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Ph.D. in Computer Science (DCS)

The Ph.D. Programme in Computer Science (DCS) provides a world-class teaching environment, supportive supervisors, and interesting courses on current topics in the field of Computer Science. Our students get prepared for an academic career or for corporate research and development positions.

About the Ph.D. Programme in Computer Science

The Ph.D. Programme in Computer Science was established in 2019 and has been growing ever since, with a total of about 30 Ph.D. in late 2022. There are currently 13 computer science professors in eight research groups. These research groups are presented in more detail here: School of Computer Science.

The studies in the DCS programme are structured as follows:

Application and Admission

Admission has to be granted before applicants can begin their studies in the DCS. There are some criteria that must complied with in order to be eligible for admission to the Ph.D. Programme in Computer Science.

The most fundamental criteria for admission are:

  • the requirement of a master degree in computer science either from HSG or an other university that provides a doctoral programme. Alternatively, master degrees in topics related to computer science are accepted if the programme committee approves them.
  • a letter of recommendation from the prospective supervisor, who must be a member of the faculty of the School of Computer Science (SCS). A list of eligible supervisors can be found here.

Further information about the application and the further criteria for admission can be found on the admission website of the DCS. This is also where the deadlines for applications can be found. For information directly from the legally binding decrees about the admission and the Ph.D. studies in general, see Award Regulation (PromO) and Programme Regulations.


Course Phase

Upon admission, Ph.D. students enter the course phase. This phase has a maximum duration of 4 semesters*, during which coursework of at least 12 ECTS-Credits is to be successfully completed and the dissertation proposal needs to be handed in. For the courses there is no specific grading (i.e., a pass or fail system is used). Upon request by the supervisor, the Programme Committee can grant external courses (4 ECTS-Credits) or research work (4 ECTS-Credits) to be accepted as coursework credit. 
More information about the coursework can be found in the programme regulations and the programme scheme.

The individual setup of each Ph.D. student's course phase is to be discussed with and approved by their supervisor.

The dissertation proposal must be submitted within the course phase. There are submission deadlines in January and July. It is the Ph.D. student's responsibility to submit the proposal in time. The submission is done sending an email to the Ph.D. office (phdunisg.ch) including the proposal document. Furthermore, the Thesis Committee (supervisor and co-supervisor) and the mode of the dissertation (see below) need to be mentioned in the submission message. 

After the submission of the dissertation, a colloquium takes place during which the Ph.D. student, the supervisor and the co-supervisor discuss the dissertation proposal. This colloquium needs to be successfully passed in order to proceed to the dissertation phase. In the dissertation proposal, it needs to be specified whether the dissertation will be monographic or written as a cumulative dissertation. The monography mode can be understood as a standalone book, whereas a cumulative dissertation mode consists of two parts: The first part is a synopsis paper that provides an overview of the topic, research problem, overall research approach, an explanation on how the individual research essays (co-)published by the student relate to this overarching research, and an overall conclusion. The second part consists of at least three individual essays (research articles) that meet quality standards of reputable, international outlets in their respective fields. One essay must be single-authored by the Ph.D. student, if the mode is a cumulative dissertation. Students are allowed to co-author research articles, however, to issues may arise: If a two Ph.D. students at the University of St.Gallen (HSG) co-author a research article, only one of them will be allowed to use it in their dissertation; and if an article is co-authored with a member of the Thesis Committee and this article is not published at the time of the submission of the thesis, that content will need to be assessed by a third party.

If a student got a publication accepted as credit in the course phase, then this article does not count toward the three required publications.

*In case of enduring illness, the Ph.D. students can request for the course phase to be prolonged. This request is to be directed to the Ph.D. Office (phdunisg.ch). The Programme Directorate is not involved in this process.

Dissertation Phase

Besides conducting research during the dissertation phase, Ph.D. students attend at least two colloquia.

The Dissertation Phase ends with the handing in of the doctoral thesis. If the supervisor and co-supervisor(s) recommend the dissertation to be accepted, then the disputation will ensue. After the disputation, the thesis may need to be revised.

Deadline: The dissertation must be finished within five years from the start of the course phase.

Ph.D. students will be awarded the title "Dr. Sc." after successfully mastering our programme. The DCS is the only programme at the University of St.Gallen providing this degree to its Ph.D. students.

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