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PhD Program in Data Science

At a glance


Understanding effective and ethical ways of using vast amounts of data is a significant challenge to science and society as a whole. Data Science encompasses such activities and is therefore inherently interdisciplinary and applied.

ZHAW is an early mover in the field of Data Science. Since 2013 ZHAW has been running the Datalab with more than 100 researches from different departments. Beginning 2017 ZHAW has co-founded the Swiss Alliance for Data-Intensive Services that became a well-recognized network in Switzerland, connecting numerous companies and research institutions. University of Zurich is active in several fields in Data Science, e.g. with a Major of Data Science in the Master’s program and a research filed at the Institute of Computational Science. Both, ZHAW and UZH are very active in basic and applied research in the area of machine learning, deep neural networks, data mining, data science and optimization applied, among others, to finance and industry.

ZHAW and UZH are the main partner in our running PgB PhD Network in Data Science. This PgB project was set up as a Network, being an excellent starting point for joint PhD projects between Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences. As a result of the intense collaboration between ZHAW and UZH, a new Doctoral Program in Data Science has been initiated in March 2020 at UZH Faculty of Science. This Doctoral Program is intended to foster the collaboration between UZH and ZHAW in such a way that one Professor from ZHAW (i.e. Prof. Dirk Wilhelm, ZHAW School of Engineering) will join the Admission Committee of the new Doctoral Program in Data Science. Moreover, a procedure at UZH Faculty of Science is in place that allows Professors from ZHAW to be accredited as main PhD supervisor (“mit Promotionsrecht”) as part of the Doctoral Committee. One Professor from ZHAW (i.e. Prof. Patrick Laube, ZHAW Life Science and Facility Management) has already received this accreditation. It is intended to request further accreditations for Professors from ZHAW.

The aim of the proposed PgB project is to give excellent master students (from Universities of Applied Sciences and Universities) the opportunity to apply for a PhD work in the fast evolving field of Data Science. The PhD should be open for students holding a Master’s degree in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), business management and economy, or other fields constituting Data Science. Industry will have the possibility to fund students in the PhD Program. In general, PhD projects within the Program will be realized along (often pre-existing) shared research interests between the ZHAW and UZH.

Following the recommendations of D. Arlettaz and J. Flury in Bestandesaufnahme 2018 TP2: Kooperation zwischen FH/PH und UH TP3: Kooperation zwischen FH/PH und ausländischen Hochschulen, we decided to establish a new project using the experiences of the existing PgB Project PhD Network in Data Science. The main differentiating factor of the new project is that we form a PhD program supported by UZH and ZHAW instead of a network. Hence it is a clear renunciation from the network philosophy to a much stronger integrated PhD program. This program will intensify the exchange between the PhD students by joint summer schools, seminars, and workshops. This will help us to form a coherent cohort of PhD students who work on joint Data Science projects at ZHAW and UZH.

Further information