This job has expired

PhD Positions: ICFO PhD Program (Fall 2021)

ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences
Closing date
5 Sep 2021
You need to sign in or create an account to save a job.

Job Details


ICFO offers 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 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.
  • Nonlinear Optics, Ultrafast Optics & Atto-Physics.
  • Nanophotonics, Optomechanics & Nanomechanics.
  • Experimental Quantum Optics, Quantum Gases & Quantum Information.
  • Theoretical Nanophotonics, Quantum Optics & Quantum Information.
  • Condensed Matter Theory & Light-Matter Interactions.
  • Photovoltaics, Thermal Photonics, Solar Fuels & CO2 Mitigation.

Please, browse our website for details about ICFO Research Groups and Group Leaders at 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 PhD Program:

  • Severo Ochoa Excellence Program.
  • PhD Fellowships funded by Agencia Estatal de Investigación (Government of Spain), AGAUR (Government of Catalonia) and other funding sources.

Additional fellowships may be offered with standard ICFO conditions.

Important: All candidates will be considered for all available fellowships for which they are eligible. 

Requirements and conditions

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. Please, if in doubt regarding your academic eligibility, contact us at
  • Candidates who have already been awarded a PhD are not eligible to apply.
  • Have an excellent academic record, previous research experience and a strong commitment for scientific research.
  • Have a high working knowledge of English.

Other specific eligibility requirements and conditions apply for specific fellowship schemes.

Additionally, to the general eligibility criteria, candidates for the Severo Ochoa Excellence Program PhD fellowships will have to meet specific requirements:

  • 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 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. For the Severo Ochoa Excellence Fellowships and the ICFO Standard PhD Positions, the annual gross salary subject to the stipulated fiscal and social security deductions during this period is 19.500€ during this period.
  • 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.
  • For the Severo Ochoa Excellence Fellowships, the annual gross salary subject to the stipulated fiscal and social security deductions is 25.200€.
  • For ICFO PhD 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 December 2021 and March 2022.
  • 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.

Application process

The formal application should be submitted online via our Jobs Opening platform: ICFOJobs:

To apply, suitable candidates are requested to submit (in English) online the following material:

  • 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.
  • Holders of a degree issued under a foreign education system. In these cases, homologation is not required but the university that awarded the degree must verify that it certifies a level of training equivalent to an official Spanish master’s degree and qualifies the holder for admission to doctoral studies in the country where it was issued. Admission on this basis does not imply homologation of the foreign degree or its recognition for any purpose other than admission to doctoral studies.

Documentation must explicitly indicate equivalence of degree and/or admissibility in a PhD program in the country where it was issued. Examples of documents we accept are:

  • Official document or website from the degree granting university.
  • Academic transcript including this explicit description.
  • Letter or certificate from faculty, school or department, addressed to ICFO on official letter-head, signed by a person responsible for admissions into the PhD program.
  • 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 5, 2021 and the deadline for referees to submit the reference letters is September 8, 2021.

Selection process

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, relative to the candidate’s experience and opportunity. 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 the end of September 2021.

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 the beginning of October 2021.

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 mid-October 2021. 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; for complete information about the PhD Admissions process at ICFO, please see


ICFO profile imageICFO is a research excellence centre devoted to the science and technology of light. Our mission is to conduct frontier research, train the next generation of scientists and provide knowledge and technology transfer. We have more than 400 researchers dedicated to fundamental and applied research, addressing standing issues such as health, renewable energies, information technologies, security and industrial processes.

Why work for us
ICFO strives to be a resource for science, technology and talent, and to provide researchers with unique skills to become successful and independent future leaders, both in the academic and industrial worlds. ICFO provides cutting-edge facilities, a stimulating international and interdisciplinary environment, as well as high-level training and extended administrative support for national and international researchers, at different career levels, with backgrounds in scientific disciplines related to optics and photonics, and their applications, including physics, engineering, mathematics, chemistry and biology.

Training and development
Central to ICFO’s mission is to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth to exceptional students, scientists and future stakeholders in the academic and industrial worlds.

A broad range of tailor-made career-development programmes have been created to meet the needs of specific target audiences. ICFO offers focused PhD programmes and dedicated Master’s studies. ICFOnians have access to opportunities throughout the year for enhancing existing skills and competencies, including scientific lectures, specialized seminars, technical workshops, specific courses and other networking opportunities.

What we are looking for
ICFO was conceived as a place where highly motivated and dedicated researchers would have the resources – both in terms of advanced equipment and human capital – to engage in research at the very highest international level. At the core of ICFO life is the drive for deeper scientific understanding, which can only be gained by dedication, hard work, asking questions and experimenting with new concepts and ideas. ICFO’s scientific impact factor is high and the ambition to publish original findings is strong.


Number of employees

Main areas of research
Biophysics and bioengineering; energy and renewables; medical physics, cancer research and oncology; nanotechnology; physical chemistry; quantum science and technology

Positions recently recruited for
Undergraduate and postgraduate students, PhD, postdoctoral and research engineer positions

Desired degree disciplines/class
Physics, engineering, mathematics, chemistry or biology

Eligible to work in the EU

How to apply
Apply through our ICFO Job Openings site at

Closing date
All year round

Tel +34 935534002

Find Us
+34 935534002
Avenue Carl Friedrich Gauss
You need to sign in or create an account to save a job.

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalised job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert