PhD Studies in Data Science

PhD offering

The Barcelona GSE Data Science Center is looking for students with a strong quantitative background interested in pursuing PhD studies in a number of areas related to data science (DS): Statistics, Machine Learning, Probability, Operations Research, and their applications in Economics.
The main route to pursue PhD studies is to first enroll into the MSc in Data Science Methodology ( There are two steps.
  1. Students must specify that they wish to pursue a PhD in their motivation letter when applying to the MSc. Selected students receive a tuition waiver for the MSc.
  2. During their first term in the MSc, students apply to the MRes year (Year 2) of the PhD Program of the Dept. of Economics Business, Finance and Management at Pompeu Fabra University (
If admitted, after completing the Data Science MSc the student will enter Year 2 of the PhD program at UPF. 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
There exist two alternative routes to pursue PhD studies:
  • In exceptional circumstances it is possible to apply to enter the PhD program at UPF directly (without doing the MSc in Data Science first). Such applications are reserved for students who already have a strong background in Data Science, for example a degree in Mathematics or Statistics, and do not have an Economics background.
  • Pursue a PhD 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.

How to apply

Students who do the MSc in Data Science must specify their interest in PhD studies in their motivation letter when applying to the MSc. During the first term of the MSc they 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. Additionally, students will also submit an application to Year 2 of the UPF PhD Program, following the instructions for the MRes Online Application. The deadline for that application is usually Jan 15, but double-check the UPF website.
Students who wish to enter the UPF PhD program directly (without doing the MSc in Data Science) should follow the same application procedure (apply both to the Data Science PhD selection committee and to the UPF PhD program, Year 2). Students who wish to pursue a PhD outside UPF should send their application to the Data Science PhD selection committee only.
In all cases, 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. Besides uploading them at the UPF system, the academic or professional referees must also send the letters to You should ensure that your referees have sent 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.