PhD Studies in Data Science

PhD offering

The BSE Data Science Center is looking for students with a strong quantitative background interested in pursuing PhD studies in areas related to data science (DS): Statistics, Machine Learning, Probability, Operations Research, and their applications in Economics.

To be eligible to apply to such PhD studies students should have (or be in the final year of) a degree in Data Science, Statistics, Mathematics or related discipline. A way to acquire such a background is to first enroll in our master in Data Science Methodology ( To follow this route, you should indicate your interest in pursuing PhD studies in your motivation letter when applying to the master. Selected students receive a tuition waiver for the master program.

We emphasize however that applying to a PhD is a separate process from enrolling into the Data Science master at BSE, and in particular that doing the master is no guarantee of being admitted into the PhD afterwards. Admittance to a PhD program is done on a competitive basis, and depends on the resources available each year.

There are two main routes to pursue PhD studies.

1. Apply to the PhD program of the Dept. of Economics & Business at UPF. For students doing the master in Data Science, the application would be at the end of the 1st term of the program. Students should apply to the MRes year (Year 2) of the PhD program at UPF, see for further information on how to apply.

If admitted, upon entering the program, the student takes a selection of courses and produces a Master of Research thesis, which is typically preliminary work towards the PhD thesis. Data Science students take a specially designed coursework, selected from courses in, to be agreed upon with their advisors.

2. Apply to the PhD program at a collaborating institution, such as the Statistics program at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya ( The PhD would be under the supervision of a Data Science Center Faculty member. In such a program there is typically no coursework and students start working on their PhD thesis from day 1.

How to apply

All interested applicants should submit the materials specified below to the Data Science PhD selection committee at, before Jan 15. Late applications may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

1. Students interested in the PhD program at UPF must also submit an application to Year 2, following the instructions for the MRes Online Application. The deadline for that application is usually Jan 15, but double-check the UPF website.
2. Students who wish to pursue a PhD at a collaborating institution outside UPF should, in a first instance, send their application to the Data Science PhD selection committee only.
Applications to the Data Science PhD selection committee must include:

– A copy of your final official undergraduate academic transcript, showing courses taken and grades obtained.
– If you have finished graduate studies or are currently undergoing a master’s degree when you submit your application, a copy of the final or provisional graduate academic transcript, showing courses taken and grades obtained
– A motivation letter, including a concise statement on research interests.
– Two academic reference letters. If applying to the UPF program, besides uploading the letters at the UPF system they should also be emailed to Please ensure that your referees send the letters by the deadline

The Barcelona School of Economics Data Science Center coordinates and promotes interdisciplinary and methodological research, training, and knowledge transfer in Data Science. The Data Science Center community consists of leading academics, machine learning researchers from industry, and practitioners from the data science and analytics industry. The research group at the Data Science Center is leading in this area and has recently been recognized by several major funding bodies, for example, the BBVA grant in Big Data, and the Google Faculty Award.

The Data Science Center is part of the Barcelona School of Economics, which is a leading institution for research and graduate education in Economics and the social sciences. The BSE offers seven Master’s programs, including a Master’s in Data Science, coordinated by the Data Science Center.

The BSE was founded as an institution for scientific cooperation between four existing academic and research units with a long tradition of collaboration: Institut d’Anàlisi Econòmica, Centre de Recerca en Economia Internacional, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. It continues to focus on consolidating strong research groups across these four centers, of which the Data Science Center is an example.

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) is a public, international and research-intensive university that, in just twenty-five years, has earned a place for itself among the best universities in Europe. Awarded with a CEI label (International Excellence Campus) by the Spanish Ministry of Education, the University also figures in some of the most influential rankings UPF has recently been featured as the 5th fastest-rising young university in the world by Times Higher Education, while the Department of Economics at the university is consistently ranked in the top 40 QS World University Rankings by Subject.