PhD Admissions FAQ

Please keep in mind that we receive many more excellent applicants than we can admit. Our group is very international, with students from the UK and other EU countries, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, etc. Students have varied backgrounds, including Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, and Statistics.

News: We have launched a new PhD programme: The Cambridge – Tübingen PhD Fellowships in Machine Learning!

For more details, visit the webpage.  The application deadline is December 2nd, 2014.

News: We are launching a new Master’s programme: The MPhil in Machine Learning, Speech and Language Technologies!

This is a one-year Master’s programme with taught courses and a research project. For more details, visit the MPhil website.

Are you looking for PhD students?

We are always looking for good PhD students. Every year we admit a small number of students from among many applicants.

What background do I need?

An ideal background is a top undergraduate or Masters degree in Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, or Electrical Engineering. You should be both very strong mathematically and have an intuitive and practical grasp of computation. Successful applicants often have research experience in statistical machine learning.  Shortlisted applicants are interviewed.

Do you have funding?

There are a number of funding sources at Cambridge University for PhD students, including for international students. All our students receive partial or full funding for the full three years of the PhD. We do not give preference to “self-funded” students. To be eligible for funding it is important to apply early (see http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/gradstud/prospec/apply/deadlines.html - current deadlines are 15 October for US students, and 2 December for others). Also make sure you tick the boxes on the application saying you wish to be considered for funding! The Cambridge-Tuebingen funding will not be listed as one of the official funding sources on the Cambridge application form, but please tick the other possible sources of funding if you want to maximise your chances of getting funding from Cambridge. 

What is my likelihood of being admitted?

Because we receive so many applications, unfortunately we can’t admit many excellent candidates, even some who have funding. Successful applicants tend to be among the very top students at their institution, have very strong mathematics backgrounds, and have some research experience in statistical machine learning. Other factors that play a role are reference letters, and exam marks (e.g. GRE).

Do I have to contact one of the faculty members first or can I apply formally directly?

It is not necessary, but if you have doubts about whether your background is suitable for the programme, or if you have questions about the group, you are welcome to contact one of the faculty members directly. Due to their high email volume you may not receive an immediate response but they will endeavour to get back to you as quickly as possible. It is more important to make your official application to the Board of Graduate studies before the funding deadlines.

Do you take Masters students, or part-time PhD students?

We generally don’t admit students for a part-time PhD. We also don’t usually admit students just for a pure-research Masters in machine learning , except for specific programs such as the Churchill and Marshall scholarships. However, please do note that we have just launched a new one-year taught Master’s Programme: The MPhil in Machine Learning, Speech and Language Technologies. You are welcome to apply directly to this.

What Department / course should I indicate on my application form?

This machine learning group is in the Department of Engineering. The degree you would be applying for is a PhD in Engineering (not Computer Science or Statistics).

How long does a PhD take?

A typical PhD from our group takes 3-4 years.  The first year requires students to pass some courses and submit a first-year research report. Students must submit their PhD before the 4th year.

What research topics do you have projects on?

We don’t generally pre-specify projects for students. We prefer to find a research area that suits the student. For a sample of our research, you can check group members’ personal pages or our research publications page.

What are the career prospects for PhD students from your group?

Students and postdocs from the group have moved on to excellent positions both in academia and industry. Have a look at our list of recent alumni on the Machine Learning group webpage. Research expertise in machine learning is in very high demand these days.