Computer Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding Graduate Studies
Written by Oded Goldreich.
This is page is also partially relevant for postdoc appllications
(see also a specific section)
All graduate studies
at the Weizmann Institute of Science
(WIS) are administrated
by the Feinberg
Graduate School (FGS).
Applications should be made using
the school's forms which can be obtained together with more detailed
the FGS homepage.
You may also contact the school via e-mail
or by ordinary mail to the Feinberg Graduate School,
P.O.B 26, Rehovot, Israel.
Following are my view regarding certain questions.
- Q: Who can apply to Graduate Studies at FGS/WIS?
Formally, anybody with an undergraduate degree can apply to
graduate studies in computer science at FGS/WIS. However,
we tend not to admit people lacking good background in computer
science (e.g., having good knowledge of algorithms rather than
having merely programming skills).
PhD versus Master:
Please note that an application to PhD studies requires an advisor
(i.e., a statement by a faculty member that he/she is willing to
serve as an adviser for the candidate),
whereas an application to Master studies does not require an advisor.
On the other hand, one can enter our PhD studies at any point in
time, whereas entering our Master studies is only possible in the
beginning of each Fall (typically, October).
- Q: Who should apply to Graduate Studies at FGS/WIS?
Assuming that you can apply to our graduate studies,
you should ask yourself whether you are indeed interested in what
our graduate studies have to offer. Note that we do not cover
uniformly all areas of Computer Science, but rather specialize in
several areas. Specifically, we have very strong research groups
in Foundations of Computer Science
and in Computer
In general, our areas of expertise are the sum of the areas of
expertise of our faculty. Thus, it is recommended to look at the
homepages of the faculty to find out more information about what
we have to offer.
- Three ways to study at FGS/WIS:
Do consider carefully which track suits you best.
- FULL-TIME student (WITH a fellowship). (Very limited number.)
Not allowed to work elsewhere, execpt for one day per week
(which is subject to obtaining permission).
(Thus, a full-time student CANNOT be in full army service!)
The student is expected to complete his/her studies in 2 years.
Typically such students are expected to have sufficient background
in Computer Science, which means that students lacking such
background are unlikely to be admitted to this track.
- PART-TIME student (WITHOUT a fellowship).
Allowed to work elsewhere (or be in full army service).
Expected to complete his/her studies in 3-4 years.
- FREE/OUTSIDE student.
Can take courses at any pace he/she wishes.
(When passing to the other tracks, gets full credit for these courses!)
Ideal for people lacking sufficient background
and/or not fitting within the standard student profile.
- Foreign (i.e., non-Israeli) students.
We encourage applications by foreign (non-Israeli) students.
In fact, the Weizmann Institute is the only institute in Israel
in which all research and teaching activity is conducted in English
(rather than in Hebrew).
However, in some cases applications from foreign countries are
harder to evaluate (especially, in case the undergraduate degree
is from a less known institute). Furthermore, a decision is taken
without an interview (whereas local applicants are typically
invited to a personal interview). The situation is even worse
when applying to our PhD program, because such an application
must be supported by a faculty that is willing to advise the
student (see above). We therefore make the following
- Unless you have a master degree from a top university,
apply to the Master program rather than to the PhD one.
Note that it may be possible to later switch to the PhD program
(see ``direct PhD'' below).
- Obtain letters of recommendations from people
who know you and who are known internationally.
- Admission standards (or chances of being admitted).
Our admission standards are quite high, and we typically have
more suitable candidates than the number of fellowships that we
can offer (all regular graduate students get fellowships).
In certain cases, we propose to suitable candidates to join our
non-regular program, which does not offer fellowships.
Typically, this is done when the candidate plans to continue to
work concurrently to his/her studies (students with fellowships are
not allowed to maintain outside jobs). Furthermore, unless
specified otherwise, we assume that a foreign candidate is not
interested in this possibility.
- Insufficient background.
Sometimes, people who lack the suitable background apply to our
programs because they are interested in graduate studies in
computer science. We typically recommend to such people to first
obtain the suitable background elsewhere (e.g., in courses given
by the Open University, etc). Recommended courses include
courses on the Design and Analysis of Algorithms,
and an Introduction to Computability and Complexity Theory.
- The direct-PhD program.
Typically, to be admitted as a PhD student, one should have a
master degree. However, there is a possibility of doing
a ``direct PhD'' (without a Master degree). Typically, one
can enter the `direct PhD' program only via the master program.
That is, if you are interested in a `direct PhD' then you should
enroll to the master program and perform outstandingly well there.
In such a case, your master adviser may recommend that you pass
to the `direct PhD' program.
I, personally, do not consider the difference between
`direct PhD' and `Master first and PhD afterwards'
to be very important. For sure there are some benefits in the
`direct PhD' program (e.g., less course-work), but even they
may turn out to be disadvantages in some cases.
The important thing is the substance (i.e., the study and
- Entering a student-advisor relationship
My own view/policy is that a student-advisor relationship
is something very demanding, and that one should not enter it
without proper two-sided "examination" (in the sense of each
of the parties seeing that the other is suitable for him/her).
About PostDoc-ing at the Weizmann Institute (FGS/WIS)
Some of the material referring to graduate studies at the Weizmann is
applicable here too. In particular, see the paragraphs about
Who should apply to Studies at FGS/WIS
and about entering a student-advisor relationship.
Although not formally required,
it is strongly advised that potential candidates contact the
desired supervisor prior to their application.
In fact, this is almost mandatory.
Applications should be made directly to FGS,
using the forms avialable from
the FGS homepage.
The Weizmann Institute of Science resides in a very nice campus,
which is located about 25Km of Tel-Aviv, 55Km of Jerusalem,
and 15Km of Israel's main international airport (Ben-Gurion).
Maintained by Oded Goldreich.