Doing your PhD at ITMO

  1. What do PhD students do during their studies?
  2. When I am doing a PhD, am I considered a student or a staff member?
  3. How long does it take to get a PhD degree?
  4. Can I study in English?
  5. What is the format of studies?

Getting into a PhD program

  1. Find your topic and supervisor
  2. Consider your funding options
  3. Learning Russian before your degree

Additional information and tips

  1. Opportunities for PhD students
  2. Tips for future PhD students

What do PhD students do during their studies?

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

The key objective of your studies is to develop a PhD thesis, which is accomplished by conducting research in your chosen field. Some of your additional activities will include publishing papers and showcasing them at conferences. During the program, students will complete a research internship, attend lectures, and take exams on the history and philosophy of science, a foreign language of their choice, and a specific subject within their specialization. These exams can take the form of a written test, presentation, essay, or a quiz.

Moreover, at the start of their program, students will need to submit a plan for expected publications, including reviews and original research; performance of this plan will be reviewed every semester. PhD studies end with a final exam followed by a thesis defense.

When I am doing a PhD, am I considered a student or a staff member?

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

At ITMO, PhD students have access to all the perks of student life: they are provided with a place in a dormitory, receive a scholarship (when studying on a tuition-free basis), and make use of various discounts.

At the same time, the majority of PhD students are employed at many of the university’s labs, where they take part in projects on the topic of their research and thus receive a salary as staff members.

As an extra option, PhD students can become teaching assistants to the university’s lecturers or even design their own optional courses thanks to the ITMO.Mentors project.

How long does it take to get a PhD degree?

A PhD program at ITMO lasts from three to four years. If you have passed all the exams and are ready with your thesis, you can defend it ahead of schedule.

Can I study in English?

Yes! You can have all your classes, as well as write and defend your thesis, in English. This way, you will only study Russian as a foreign language as one of the courses included in your program.

What is the format of studies?

In general, studies take place on campus, with an opportunity to take exams and even defend your thesis online. However, each case is individual and should be discussed with your research supervisor. For example, if your research requires attending a lab or using some special equipment located at the university, doing a PhD fully online might be impossible.

Find your topic and supervisor

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

Undoubtedly, the most important step in looking for PhD opportunities is deciding what it is that you want to study and finding a supervisor that you will be excited to be guided by.
  • You can look for potential supervisors at ITMO on this page (information is available in both English and Russian) or here (in Russian).
  • One other strategy for finding your supervisor is by perusing the Research tag on ITMO.NEWS, where you will find materials on scientific publications by the university’s top research teams. If you find a particularly appealing study, you can look for its authors on the university’s website.
  • Additionally, you can check this page for any vacancies and reach out to the relevant department using the contact details included in each listing.

After you’ve found a researcher that you would love to supervise you, send them an email stating your interest in their work and collaboration. This will be your opportunity to discuss the outline of your future PhD project – a crucial step to complete before your application.

Subhrajit Barua, a first-year PhD student at ITMO, also recommends discussing potential collaborations, teaching, mentorship, and internship opportunities at this stage.

Consider your funding options

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

There are two paths you can consider. The first one is through Rossotrudnichestvo, a government initiative that supports international collaboration in education. You can learn more about your opportunities at a nearby Russian embassy or a Rossotrudnichestvo office in your country, as well as on the upcoming online platform Education in Russia.

The second path is through the Open Doors Scholarship Project. The winners get to study at ITMO tuition-free and with a scholarship. You can learn more about it here.

Additionally, you can apply for a tuition-based position (in this case, you will still have to first reach out to a potential supervisor and discuss your project). You will have to pass two remote entrance exams, one in your specialization and one in a foreign language, and pay annual tuition fees. Go to this page for more information about the application process.

Learning Russian before your degree

Apart from the opportunity to learn Russian as a foreign language alongside your studies, your scholarship might cover a preparatory Russian language course, which at ITMO is called the Foundation Program. It will help you become proficient in the language and learn about Russian culture.


Photo by ITMO.NEWS

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

ITMO strives to provide its PhD students with a wide range of opportunities to acquire international experience and communicate with their colleagues from all over the world. By joining one of ITMO's international research centers and laboratories, you can gain expertise and take part in breakthrough research alongside the university's global partners.

All year long, you can apply for short-term events like online and offline conferences or research internships abroad and get up to 70% of your expenses reimbursed.

If you want to bring your research to the market, ITMO Technopark is there to help. Bringing together educational institutions, researchers, and businesses, it equips you with the knowledge and networking opportunities essential for launching a successful business.

Tips for future PhD students

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

Photo by ITMO.NEWS

  1. Design your own project: don't depend on your supervisor to provide you with a project. Take control of your work. Your supervisor will be there to assist you.
  2. Get to know your teammates: as a PhD student, you might need to work with a diverse group consisting of Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD students. Bond with them well.
  3. Have some me-time: doing a PhD can sometimes become overwhelming. But hustling 24/7 can lead to burnout and depression. Make sure to take some time out each day to do something that you love. It can be watching your favorite series or going for a jog.
  4. Have a collaborative mindset: alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. Always look to broaden your horizons. Seek collaboration opportunities with other labs and universities.
  5. Attend conferences: they will not only help you learn the latest trends in your area of research but also present you with numerous networking opportunities that might prove to be game-changing.

If you have any further questions regarding getting your PhD at ITMO University, write to the Office of International Postgraduate and Doctoral Studies at