PhD Students

Saarbrücken, Deutschland

What we are always looking for

We are looking for PhD students in all areas related to CISPA, notably

  • Cybersecurity, Privacy, Cryptography

  • Machine Learning and Data Science

  • Efficient Algorithms and Foundations of Theoretical Computer Science

  • Software Engineering, Program Analysis and Formal Methods

We constantly seek applications from outstanding students regardless of their national origin or citizenship. Admission to the Computer Science graduate program is highly competitive. A successful Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree from a top-tier, research-oriented institution of higher education in a subject relevant to our research is required. Applicants should have an outstanding academic record (at or near the top of their class), proficiency in spoken and written English, and strong letters of recommendation from their academic advisors.

What we offer

CISPA maintains an open, international and diverse work environment. Every PhD student is a member of a research group lead by his or her supervisor. Admitted students are as a rule paid employees of CISPA with a full time contract. The working language is English.

Highlighted Positions


The group of Sebastian Brandt is looking for PhD Candidates and Postdocs interested in working in the theory of distributed and parallel algorithms. Possible topics include distributed complexity theory, algorithms for symmetry-breaking and other fundamental graph problems, distributed lower bounds, the role of randomness in distributed computing, and many others. Besides computer scientists, we expressly encourage bright students from maths (in particular pure maths) to apply if they are interested in algorithmic questions.

For more information, see the full call at For an impression of the research conducted in Sebastian's group, see, and for more information about Sebastian himself, see

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The group of Krikamol Muandet has multiple openings for Ph.D. students with a strong interest in the broad areas of machine learning (ML). The group's research aims at understanding the principles that enable autonomous agents to learn from past experience and interact succesfully with complex environments, and to use this understanding to design new learning algorithms. The research theme spans the following areas:

  • Prediction: How do we design ML algorithms that can cope with distrbutional shifts? The topics of interest are domain adaption (DA), domain generalization (DG), out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization, and robustness. Kernel methods, kernel mean embedding of distributions and applications thereof are our mathematical arsenal to tackle these problems.

  • Causation: How do we leverage cause-effect relationships in improving ML models, and conversely how do we use sophisticated ML methods to aid causal inference in complex environments? Topics of interest are unobserved confounders in causal inference, spurious correlation in machine learning, distributional treatment effects, counterfactual inference, and algorithmic decision making. Natural experiments and quasi-experimental designs such as instrumental variable (IV), proxy variables, and regression discontinuity design (RDD) offers tools to address these problems.

  • Regulation: How do we regulate the deployment of ML models in heterogeneous environments to ensure the democratic use of AI? Topics of interest are feedback loops and strategic behavior. To gain a better understanding of these problems, we will be adopting techniques from algorithmic game theory, mechanism design, social choice theory, and other related sub-fields of economics.

Successful candidates are expected to have an excellent master's degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, or a related discipline. A prior research experience and proficiency with programming languages are a plus.

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The group of Christian Rossow is hiring PhD students in the broad area of system security, software security and network security. Example research topics include network protocol security, DDoS attacks and defenses, traffic analysis, secure software/hardware co-designs, or timing side channels. Find more information here.

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The group of Mridula Singh is looking for a PhD candidate with a strong research interest in wireless systems security. The group's research focuses on enabling secure communication, positioning, and combining sensor modalities for autonomous systems. The technologies of interest are CANBus, UWB, WiFi, 5G, LEO, and GNSS. Example research topics will include:

            Exploring security vulnerabilities of the communication technologies mainly at the physical and logical layer
            Secure sensor fusion 
            Designing secure positioning architecture for 5G 
            Secure time synchronization
            Location privacy

Students with a strong interest in 5G's physical and logical layer will be given preference. It will be a plus if the student is interested in using software-defined radios like USRPs and open-source RANs for LTE/5G. The student should have taken some introductory courses on digital circuits and wireless systems or be strongly inclined towards this field. 

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The group of Sebastian Stich is looking for a PhD candidate with a strong research interest in the analysis and development of optimization strategies for training machine learning models. The group's research focuses on distributed algorithms (such as federated and decentralized learning), algorithms for differentially private, robust, and fair machine learning, and on distributed artificial intelligence (see also for past and current research). It will be a plus if the student is motivated to work on theoretical challenges that arise in practical application in the fields of biology and health (e.g., structured, or multimodal data, low sample sizes, etc.). Within this project, the student will have the opportunity to collaborate with partners within the Helmholtz AI unit.

Requirements: The candidate is expected to have an excellent degree at the MSc level in mathematics, statistics, computer science or a related discipline. A solid mathematical foundation (e.g. probability theory, statistics, calculus, and linear algebra) is a must, experience in optimization, machine learning, data science or with a ML framework such as e.g. PyTorch, is a plus.

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The group of Andreas Zeller is looking for Ph.D. candidates and Postdocs with research interests in program analysis, software testing, and automated debugging. Research topics include novel methods for highly efficient software testing; mining specifications for inputs and programs; synthesizing oracles; explaining software failures; and more. Find Andreas Zeller here:


Qualified candidates who wish to pursue a doctoral degree in a research area covered by CISPA faculty may apply at any time. We will accept applications throughout the year for exceptionally strong candidates. Admitted applicants will have an opportunity to visit the center and its partner institutions and interact with faculty and students before making their decision. Admitted students are advised by CISPA faculty. All doctoral researchers at CISPA will be a member of a graduate program at our partnering degree-granting universities. For example PhD students in Saarbrücken are part of the Saarbrücken Graduate School of Computer Science at Saarland University, with whom we have a long-standing close collaboration. (

The center is committed to increasing the representation of women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities in Computer Science. In accordance with the Equal Opportunity Plan, the institute aims at increasing the number of women in Computer Science, and explicitly encourages women to apply. Applications of severely disabled candidates with equivalent qualifications will be given priority. In general, we welcome applications regardless of gender, nationality, ethnic and social origin, religion/belief, disability, age and sexual orientation and identity.

In case of interest in working at CISPA, please press the "Apply now" button. Please upload your documents in PDF format.  

For any questions regarding the application process, please contact us at:


The CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security provides a unique work environment that offers the advantages of a university department and a research laboratory alike. As the latest member of the Helmholtz Association, the largest research organization in Germany, CISPA has embarked on a mission: to rethink the digitalized world of the future from the ground up and make it safer through innovative cutting-edge research. In the medium term, the center will grow to more than 800 employees with not less than 60 Faculty and research group leaders. Faculty receive extremely competitive institutional funding, enjoy academic freedom, and build and lead their team of young researchers, and are granted the opportunity to teach graduate and undergraduate courses.

The CISPA headquarter is located in Saarbrücken, in the tri-border area of Germany, France, and Luxembourg. The working language is English. A command of German is not required for a successful career at CISPA.

All information on the processing of your personal data, your statements in the application process and your data privacy rights can be found in our data privacy policy.