Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. in Computer Science

The Ph.D. program consists of 4 years of study and research. During the first year students will take a number of courses structured in three main pillars:

  • Algorithms

  • Formal Methods

  • Software Engineering

Apart from internal GSSI courses, students are encouraged to take classes also at summer schools or other institutions in Italy or abroad. Each student is asked to prepare, together with the Ph.D. coordinator, a study-plan to be approved by the Academic Board.

Performances in the exams and quality of the thesis proposal (submitted at the end of the first year) are the main criteria for deciding admission to the second year. The second and third years are mainly dedicated to research. Students are assisted by a supervisor and their progress is assessed by an advisory board consisting of experts in the relevant area of their scientific interests. Students are strongly encouraged to spend part of their research studies in external labs in Italy or abroad.

Organization of the Ph.D. program

We design the Ph.D. courses according to the following three categories:

  • Immigration courses that are introductory courses providing foundational knowledge and skills on each of the three pillars.

  • Core courses that are in-depth courses on selected topics of central interest to the Ph.D. program that provide students with the necessary background to start their research work.

  • Advanced courses that are short inter-pillar courses focusing on cross-cutting research topics in the area of interacting heterogeneous distributed systems.

Immigration courses are woven together with a twofold aim: to give the students the tools needed to successfully attend the subsequent courses, and to start to expose the students to relevant research challenges arising in interacting heterogeneous distributed systems.

Core and advanced courses are given by top-level international scientists selected among faculties of the most acknowledged institutions worldwide. The topics of such courses have been defined to best fit with GSSI – Computer Science research vision on interacting heterogeneous distributed systems. All the courses are meant to provide the necessary background and knowledge to the students for taking up their learning paths towards the defence of the PhD thesis.


Can I attend summer schools and courses at other institutions?

Students are encouraged to follow courses that fit with the topic of their Ph.D. theses also at summer schools or at other institutions in Italy or abroad. Before registering for such schools, students should seek the authorization of the coordinator of the Ph.D. program and of their internal tutor. Typically, students can follow up to two external courses or summer schools.

After having attended a Ph.D. school or a course at another institution, a student should:

  • submit to the coordinator of the Ph.D. program a short written report describing the topics and the presentations as well as the areas for future research suggested by the lecturers he/she found most interesting;

  • deliver a 20-minute talk to students and faculty at the GSSI describing the content of the report.

How do I inform CS@GSSI that I am unable to attend a lecture?

Send an email to the course lecturer with a CC to Michele Flammini ( In case you know that you are going to be absent for some period of time, please inform Michele Flammini well in advance.

How many attempts do I have to pass an exam?

The exam for each course can be attempted twice.

Which exams and how many should I take?

Every student of the Ph.D. program in Computer Science must attend all courses. Moreover, they must pass the exams of the following courses:

  • All three immigration courses (90 hours total);

  • 5 core courses of the student's choice (70 hours total);

See page 4 of the Ph.D. Rules available at Ph.D. rules.

Advanced courses do not have final exams.

What is the grading system used in course evaluations by CS@GSSI?

Immigration and core courses are evaluated according to the ECTS grading scale. The grades for the courses are only used as an internal reference.