7+ PhD-positions available within the ICFO International PhD Program (Fall 2020)

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ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences
20 September, 2020


Carl Friedrich Gauss, 3
Castelldefels 08860
Phone: +34935534101


ICFO offers up to 7 PhD-fellowship positions to well-qualified graduate students, who wish to obtain a doctoral degree in any of the research topics covered at ICFO.  

Our PhD-program brings together top-level training and teaching for young scientists, benefiting from the extensive course offerings of local universities and focused instruction by ICFO professors, in a stimulating, international and interdisciplinary environment. PhD-students have the opportunity to take advantage of our network of excellence, consisting in partners of national and international research institutes and universities, as well as industrial partners in the field.

Our International PhD Fellowship Program welcomes applications from individuals with a degree in a field of science and engineering related to the ICFO research activities.  

Fellowships will be offered across all ICFO research groups in the following research topics:

  • Biophysics & Biomedical Optics
  • Optical Sensing, Optoelectronics & Photovoltaics
  • Nonlinear Optics, Ultrafast Optics & Atto-Physics
  • Nanophotonics, Optomechanics & Nanomechanics
  • Experimental Quantum Optics & Quantum Information
  • Theoretical Nanophotonics, Quantum Optics & Quantum Information

Please, browse our website for details about ICFO Research Groups and Group Leaders at https://www.icfo.eu/lang/research.  In the group profile, you will also see specific available PhD-projects in that particular group (application should be formalized through this present general call with the corresponding selection process applicable). If you are interested in discussing possible research topics, please contact ICFO Group Leaders directly.

Important: During your application, you will be requested to indicate the research group(s) you are interested in accomplishing your PhD with.

The fellowships are offered in the scope of several fellowship programs currently active within the ICFO International PhD Program:

  • Up to 5 fellowships through the ENLIGHTEN Marie Sklowdowska-Curie-COFUND action under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (GA 847517).
  • Up to 2 ICFO CELLEX Fellowships (see conditions below).

Additional fellowships may be offed with standard ICFO conditions (see below).


To be eligible for an ICFO PhD position, candidates must:

  • Have an internationally-recognized Master-equivalent degree. The degree must be completed by the start of your prospective PhD at ICFO, at the latest, and must be in a field of science and engineering related to the ICFO research activities. Degrees issued within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) must have an equivalent to 300 ECTS, out of which a minimum of 60 ECTS must have been obtained in postgraduate studies. Candidates who have already been awarded a PhD are not eligible to apply. Please, if in doubt regarding your academic eligibility, contact us at //files/groups/hresources/8_BEQUES/0_ICFO-International-PhD/SELECTION/7_Call_Fall-2018_MAJOR/CALL/Adverts%20text/jobs [at] icfo [dot] eu">jobs [at] icfo [dot] eu
  • Have an excellent academic record, previous research experience and a strong commitment for scientific research.
  • Have a high working knowledge of English.

Additionally, candidates for the ENLIGHTEN positions must comply with the following EU-rules by the time of activation of the COFUND-PhD:

  • By the time of the COFUND contract activation, candidates should not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 of the last 36 months.
  • The Master-equivalent degree should not be older than 4 years. Exceptions are made for documented periods of parental leave. Other equivalent exceptions may be considered when properly documented and motivated by the applicant, e.g. in case of applicants from underdeveloped countries, minorities, or for applicants that pursued their studies un-der comparatively unfavorable conditions.

Candidates for the ICFO CELLEX Fellowships will have to meet mobility requirements:

  • By the time of the PhD contract activation, candidates should have resided in Spain or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) for at least 12 of the last 36 months.
  • Candidates must not have been in a PhD position at ICFO for more than 12 months (including the trainee period) at the time of the call deadline.
  • The candidate must not have applied to any previous call for equivalent ICFO PhD fellowships (this includes e.g. the Spring and Fall PhD fellowship calls).

ICFO is an equal employment opportunity employer. Candidates are selected exclusively on merit and potential on the basis of submitted application material. No restrictions of persons with disabilities, citizenship or gender apply to ICFO positions. ICFO abides by the principles of openness, efficiency, transparency, supportiveness, and international comparability as stated in the European Charter for Researchers and the European Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.

ICFO PhD Fellowships are offered for a period of 4.5 years. The conditions of the positions awarded in the scope of the ICFO International PhD fellowship program are as follows:

  • Initial contract for a period of 6 months (referred to as the “initial training period”), while being pre-admitted to the PhD program, with an explicit follow-up/ renewal procedure at the end of this first stage. During this period, students already take part in the ICFO working environment, join a research group, and work with their supervisor to define a research project. Annual gross salary subject to the stipulated fiscal and social security deductions during this period is 19.500€.  
  • After this initial training period, students are formally enrolled in a PhD Program with a local university (as a general rule, the UPC PhD in Photonics program administered by ICFO), and the full PhD Fellowship activated. Fellowships are offered for periods of three years, renewable for an additional fourth year, and are formalized via a PhD-contract. Continuity and renewal are subject to satisfactory performance in the PhD studies and related research activities, evaluated annually by the Thesis Director and the ICFO PhD Committee.
  • Salary conditions for the 4 years of PhD fellowship vary according to the fellowship scheme finally awarded:
    • The ENLIGHTEN COFUND fellowship amount is at H2020 MSCA-COFUND level. The annual gross salary subject to the stipulated fiscal and social security deductions is 25.900€.  
    • For the ICFO CELLEX Fellowships, the annual gross salary subject to the stipulated fiscal and social security deductions is 25.200€.
    • For the ICFO Standard Fellowships, the annual gross salary, subject to the stipulated fiscal and social security deductions, is 20.050€ for the 1st and 2nd year and 21.450€ for the 3rd and 4th year.
  • Selected candidates shall start ideally between January and March 2021.
  • All fellowships include medical care coverage and work accident insurance through the Spanish Social Security system, providing access to the Spanish public health care system.
  • As part of the fellowship, ICFO will provide budget as deemed necessary and with the corresponding approval from the corresponding Group/Team Leader to enable the PhD fellow to complete his/her assigned research project. This budget is managed by the Group/Team leader, and will include consumables and other materials, training and other related costs, such as registration fees, travel and subsistence costs for participation in national or international events, conference, meetings, schools, and/or other training activities.



To apply, suitable candidates are requested to submit (in English) online via: http://jobs.icfo.eu/?detail=511

  • A Cover Letter addressing research interests and motivation for application, as well as specific indication of ICFO research group of interest,
  • A Curriculum Vitae, including contact details,
  • Scanned copies of the complete (Bachelor and Master equivalent) official academic transcripts in English or Spanish,
  • Scanned copies of the degree certificates, if available at the time of application,
  • If available, scanned copy of standardized test results (GRE, TOEFL, etc.). Note that submission of test results is optional, but they can be particularly helpful for evaluating candidates with degrees obtained outside the European Higher Education Area.
  • The names and contact details of 2 referees. IMPORTANT: These referees will be automatically contacted by ICFO requesting them to complete a standardized evaluation form and submit a letter of support for the candidates one week of the application deadline. When they do so, the applicant will receive an email confirming that the corresponding reference letter has been submitted.

All required application material, including letters of reference, must be complete and submitted by deadline in order for the application to be considered.

The deadline for submission of applications for the present call is September 20, 2020 and the deadline for referees to submit the reference letters is September 23, 2020.



In a first step of the selection procedure, applications will be assessed by the selection committee based on merit and potential, measured in terms of the academic record and personal achievements. Academic excellence is a must. Pro-activity, participation in community activities, and capacity for team-work are also taken into account.

Applicants will be notified the results of the first evaluation stage by mid-end October 2020.

In the second step of the selection procedure, shortlisted candidates will receive invitations to visit ICFO for personal interviews with the selection committee and ICFO Group/Team Leaders, planned to take place by mid November 2020.

Please note that that the visit to ICFO for personal interviews may have to be replaced by online interviews depending on the circumstances. Applicants will be notified accordingly.

Note: If you are from a country with visa-obligations for Spain, please be advised to already inquire (only inquire) regarding the documentation necessary (usually inviting letter ICFO, plus travel and accommodation bookings) and the potential appointment-situation at the local Spanish Embassy/ visa-office.

The final list with candidates recommended for fellowship concession, as well as reserve candidates, will be available by the end of November, 2020. Being the last condition that shortlisted candidates find a hosting group at ICFO, candidates are then asked to contact the Group Leader(s) of choice to negotiate directly a potential PhD in their group, on a fellowship. Candidates and Group Leader should confirm within one week whether an agreement has been reached. Candidates without a match cannot be confirmed the fellowship.

A dedicated, external and independent Appeals Panel will be established to rule on the outcome of appeals from the applicants.

At all stages of the process, candidates may contact ICFO Human Resources and Education via jobs [at] icfo [dot] eu; for complete information about the PhD Admissions process at ICFO, please see http://phd.icfo.eu

Deadline: 2020-09-20