Positions available in 2018

We are opening up to 16 new PhD positions this year. The formal call for applications will be published on June 18 at this address: The deadline is July 25, 12:00 CET.

Prospective students are also encouraged to send their expressions of interest directly to the contact person for the topics of their interest, enclosing a CV and a brief letter of motivation. Note that the expression of interest is not sufficient and to apply you need to fill in the application forms at the above address. For general questions please contact the Head of the program, Prof. Paolo Frasconi.

A subset of the available positions will be reserved to specific research topics. To be considered for one of these positions, you will have to specify the elected positions in your formal application. Since we strive to fill as many of these positions as possible, by applying for one or more reserved positions you may significantly increase your chances of being accepted in the program. You may apply for as many reserved positions as you wish. During the interview, there will be one additional test for each reserved positions you have applied for. Passing the test is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for obtaining the corresponding reserved position. Failing one or more of these tests will not affect the overall score nor will reduce your chances of being accepted for the remaining (non-reserved) positions.

You will have to attach to your application a research proposal describing a three years project having a high potential for a novel scientific contribution in any topic related to smart computing. The research proposal needs not to be directly related to one of the reserved research topics for which you may want to apply. In facts, this proposal will not be even used to bound you to do research in any particular area, it just serves the purpose of assessing your technical writing skills, your ability to envision sensible long-term research goals, and your ability to plan and evaluate research activities.

Reserved positions          

There are additional thematic positions (not reserved) listed below. These positions do not require a specific test.

Non-reserved thematic positions


Calls for applications are posted yearly, usually around June/July.


To be eligible you must hold a MSc degree or equivalent (at least 5 years of university studies). You may apply before graduation but you must obtain your degree before the beginning of the PhD Program. Specific requirements and documents to be submitted will be described in the call for application.

Research proposal

Normally we ask that you write a research proposal describing a three years project having a high potential for a novel scientific contribution in one of the topics for which we open the call.

Specific topics for which we seek candidates will be listed in the call for applications.


A shortlist of candidates will be formed based on the submitted documents. They will be invited to interview.

Online application

A link to the application form will be available when the call for applications is posted.


Doctoral committee

It consists of the faculty members.

Supervisory committee

The doctoral committee appoints a supervisory committee for every PhD student at least three months before the first progress report. The supervisory committee must include the supervisor(s) and at least two other assessors belonging to different research groups or external to the consortium. The composition can be changed during the doctoral program.

The supervisory committee is responsible for monitoring the progress of the doctoral research by reviewing the annual progress reports at the end of the first year and at the end of the second year. Normally the candidate illustrates each progress report with an oral presentation that can be attended in person or via telco by the supervisory committee.

Evaluation committee

The doctoral committee appoints an evaluation committee for every PhD candidate, at least two months before the deadline for the submission of the PhD thesis. The evaluation committee must include at least two external assessors who are not affiliated with any institution involved in the consortium1. Any scholar eligible to supervise a PhD student in the research area of the candidate is eligible to be a member of the evaluation committee. At least one member of this committee must be affiliated with a foreign institution.

The evaluation committee is responsible for running the private defense and evaluating the PhD thesis.


The jury is appointed by the Chancelor of the University of Florence and is responsible for running the public defense and approving the thesis. It must consist of three members and three deputy members. It can include members of the evaluation committee but cannot include scholars affiliated with any institution involved in the consortium.



Candidates are required to obtain 21 ECTS credits (or equivalent) of which at least 15 from the list of approved courses for the doctoral program published here. Candidates are expected to acquire at least 9 credits by the end of the first year and at least 18 by the end of the second year as a prerequisite to continue the program. Exceptions to this schedule must be motivated and approved by the supervisory committee.

External courses: summer/winter schools, conference tutorials

Additional credits can be obtained by attending conference tutorials, summer/winter schools, seminars etc. (1 credit every four hours). In order to get credits recognized you must email the PhD secretary (cc your supervisory committee) with the following details:

  • Name of the school (or conference) and URL, if available
  • Place and dates
  • Total number of hours
  • Attach certificate of attendance (if available)
Other external courses

If you take courses from external PhD programs (not in the above list) then to get credits you must email the PhD secretary (cc your supervisory committee and course instructor) with the following details:

  • Name of the course, PhD program, and URL, if available
  • Place and dates
  • Total number of hours
  • Certificate (free form) signed by the instructor stating that you took the course and passed the exam

It is also acceptable to take for credits courses that are programmed for a MSc degree in Computer Engineering (use the above procedure for recognition). In these cases, however, you will get the floor of the half the ECTS credits assigned for the MSc program. You are strongly advised to discuss with your supervisor(s) and/or the head of the PhD program before you enroll for one of these courses.

Progress reports

Candidates must submit progress reports at the end each year. Reports should include:

  • A summary of research and results (min 1 page, max 3 pages).
  • A list of exams passed, seminars, tutorials, or summer schools attended (at least 9 credits at the end of the first year and at least 18 credits at the end of the second year are expected).
  • A list of publications.
  • A list conferences or workshops attended.
  • A list of research visit to external institutions.
  • A detailed research plan for the next year (max 2 pages, only for the first and second year).

The third year report should be submitted two months before the thesis submission deadline.

The supervisory committee makes a recommendation to the doctoral committee in order to allow the candidate to continue the PhD program. The recommendation must be written and signed and the outcome can be either positive or negative. The final decision on the continuation of the PhD program will be made by the doctoral committee based on the received recommendation. The supervisory committee also prepares a final report for candidate that have completed the program. The final report is approved by the doctoral committee and is sent to the evaluation committee and to the jury for the final exam.


The thesis should be written in English and must contain original research material. It is acceptable to incorporate verbatim material from papers authored by the candidate provided that they have contributed significantly to the writing of such material. The thesis must be submitted by email before the end of the third year of the PhD program to all members of the Evaluation Committee, to the head of the program, and to the secretary of the program. Also, a printed copy, signed by the supervisor(s) and by the head of the PhD program must be handed in to the secretary.


There is a preliminary (private) defense before the candidate's evaluation committee, and a public defense before a jury appointed by the University of Florence. External members are allowed to participate in the preliminary defense via videoconference. The private defense must be scheduled no later than three months after the thesis has been submitted. Members of the supervisory committee and the head of the PhD program (or a delegate) can attend the private defense and participate in the discussion but cannot vote in favor or against the thesis. The public defense must be scheduled no later than 90 days after the jury has been appointed.

Based on the private defense, the evaluation committee is in charge of making a recommendation to the doctoral committee in order to admit the student to the public defense. The recommendation must be written and signed and the outcome can be either:

  • positive (possibly conditional to a minor revision of the thesis, to be resubmitted before the public defense);
  • negative, in case there are major problems with the thesis. In this case the candidate is allowed1 to submit a substantially revised version of the thesis within six months and then a new final recommendation to the jury will be made. The candidate is allowed to the public defense even if the final recommendation is negative (but this is not recommended).


Visits to foreign institutions

PhD students can spend periods of study and research at foreign institutions upon authorization by the doctoral committee. Pegaso fellows are required to spend six months at a foreign institution. Participation in conferences, workshops, summer schools, or other similar events does not count in this respect. For other fellows, visits are optional. Scholarships are increased by 50% during the time spent abroad (this does not apply to PhD students supported by other research assistantship contracts).

Student grants

Starting from the second year, PhD students with a fellowship are entitled a small grant (ten percent of the fellowship) as a contribution towards travel expenses and registration fees for attending high quality scientific conferences or workshops. Requests should be sent (at least 30 days before the trip) to the head of the PhD program or one of their delegates for approval. The grant is in the form of reimbursement and expense receipts need to be handed in to the appropriate administrative office.

Delegates for administrative procedures

Travel authorizations must be requested to the head of the PhD program or one of their delegates:

  • Prof. Gianluca Dini (Univ. Pisa)
  • Prof. Marco Gori (Univ. Siena)