Joining the Data Lab

This page is for prospective PhD students and Postdocs who are NOT currently at EPFL and would like to join the DATA Lab.

Prospective PhD students

Note from Prof. Koch:

If you are not a PhD student at EPFL yet, please consider applying to our doctoral school at This is your first step towards getting into EPFL. You cannot be admitted directly by talking to a professor, and sending us email will not improve your chances of admission. (However, you are of course welcome to contact us. Please be aware of the mistake commonly made in such contexts that students try to impress potential advisors by claiming to have read their papers and then going on to get their remarks really, really wrong. At this point of your career, I don’t expect you to be an expert in what I do. But to get admitted to EPFL, you need a strong CV, very good grades, and stellar letters of recommendation.)

The principal way of getting into our PhD program is via a PhD fellowship, and offer of which is one of the possible outcomes of our admissions process. This will guarantee you funding and you will have up to a year after joining EPFL to find an advisor. The usual method is to talk to profs and then choose to work with them for a semester to check them out (&vice versa).

In your application, you will be asked which EPFL professors you are interested in working with. You can enter any set of names you like, and you need not ask permission before entering anyone’s name. Again, there is no strategic way of entering prof’s names to improve your chances of admission; admission is done by a committee of professors and is purely based on merit.

Once you have been admitted to the EPFL IC doctoral program, please contact me by email if you are interested in doing a PhD in the DATA Lab.

We always have vacancies for really talented and motivated PhD students! If you get admitted into our doctoral program with a fellowship and want to work with me, I will certainly agree to a semester project where we can both find out whether we like working together.

Swiss Excellence Scholarships

Some prospective PhD students contact me to get a letter of admission to EPFL that they need to obtain to apply for an external fellowship (for instance, a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship). I cannot write you such a letter; our admissions are purely merit-based, done by committee, and I am in no position to admit you directly. In case you want to go for such a fellowship, please contact our doctoral school EDIC rather than a professor. They know the answers to your questions.

Prospective Postdocs

We are always looking for postdocs, but the standards are very high. I strongly prefer a recommendation from your PhD advisor, who I need to know of. There is absolutely no chance I can take you on as a postdoc if you have not done a PhD in computer science (preferably in a subfield such as databases that I am interested in myself). If you are, say, a mechanical engineer or physicist, I cannot take you as a postdoc, even if you have programming experience.

Please note that having your own funding is not a criterion whether I can take you as a postdoc. If I think of you as a good match and you don’t have funding, we will pay you. If you have funding but don’t fit the profile, I cannot admit you to the lab.