Multiple Fully-Funded Ph.D. Positions in HRI/AR/HCI/Robotics/AI

Do you want to pursue your passion and become a leader in the field? Apply for this and work with Prof. Han!

Ph.D. Position Description

Prof. Zhao Han invites Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Ph.D. applications for multiple fully funded Research and Teaching Assistantships starting as early as Spring 2025.

You will join the RARE Lab within the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida, USA.

In short, why you should apply

You will be advised by Prof. Han who is a leading researcher in the emerging field of human-robot interaction (HRI) and also working in augmented reality (AR), AI, human-computer interaction (HCI), and hardcore robotics. Prof. Han publishes in top-tier venues (e.g., HRI, ICRA, IROS) and serves on the top ACM/IEEE HRI conference organizing & programming committees. He has also received a Best Paper Award, two Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion awards, and one mentoring award for his inclusive excellence approach.

You will be a Ph.D. student at USF, which is among the 71 most prestigious AAU universities, ranks 89th nationally (and keeps rising), and is a preeminent state research university. You will live and work in the subtropical Tampa Bay area (3 million population) of Florida (the third most populated and fastest growing sunshine state). If you drive 45 minutes west, you will be in top-ranked white sand beaches, and drive east for one hour, you will be in the world-famous Disney and Universal resorts.

Why graduate school: Become a leader

Why USF for graduate school?

Who we are looking for

Preferences will be given to candidates who are determined to go the extra mile, comfortable with programming, good communicators, and interested in any area related to Prof. Han’s expertise, preferably with an M.S. degree and optionally with relevant research experience, including

As an interdisciplinary research lab, you are welcome to apply if you have a programming/computer science background and a bachelor’s degree in computer science, robotics, informatics/HCI, engineering, psychology, design, cognitive science, or any related area. Applicants with a non-computing bachelor’s degree are encouraged to enroll in the USF Pathway to Computing graduate certificate program.

What you can expect

With Prof. Han’s advice and your effort, you will be mentored and trained as a prolific and independent researcher. You will publish at top-tier conferences and journals (HRI, ICRA, IROS, et al.), network with world-class researchers, and become a national and international leader in human-robot interaction, robotics, and augmented reality.

Prof. Han has a strong publication record, a wide range of interdisciplinary expertise, and extensive mentoring experience with an inclusive excellence approach.

Applicants from underrepresented and underserved groups, including women and domestic US students, are strongly encouraged to apply! (Read Prof. Han’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement and the CSE department’s Broadening Participation in Computing program).

The graduate assistant position includes a tuition waiver, a stipend, and a health insurance subsidy. Learn more by visiting the USF graduate assistantships resource center.

Application Process

Complete Application Package

You are required to prepare a complete application package:

  • Unofficial Transcripts (including the grade sheet and diploma, if applicable)
    • Please refer to the Graduate Academic Requirements for the details.
    • If admitted, official transcripts and test scores must be submitted to Graduate Admissions, but unofficial transcripts/scores can be used to review the application.
  • CV/Resume without page limit
  • Statement of Purpose in PDF
    • Please try to prepare your first version without using generative AI tools like ChatGPT
    • Additionally, please mention Prof. Zhao Han and discuss at least two of his publications, including your own thoughts
  • Three Confidential Letters of Recommendation
    • Must be on official letterhead with the recommender’s title and contact in PDF
  • [Optional] PDF of GRE Scores
  • [If applicable] PDF of English Proficiency Scores

For consideration, please

  1. Prepare a complete application package
  2. Apply through the USF graduate student admission with a complete application package
  3. Email your complete application package without the recommendation letters to
  4. Once all recommendation letters have been submitted to the application portal, email Prof. Han to let him know
    • Short-listed candidates will receive invitations for online interviews after the RARE lab priority deadline (see below)

When an offer is issued, international applicants will go through the foreign influence screening process.

Application Deadline

All supporting materials (test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters, etc.) must be received by the stated deadline. Any supporting materials received after the deadline may be reviewed on a space-available basis.

RARE Lab Priority Deadline1CSE Department Priority Deadline1Final University Deadline2
SpringSep 1Sep 1Oct 15
FallDec 15Jan 15Feb 153
  1. Applications received by the priority deadline will receive maximum consideration, including funding.
  2. Applications received between the priority deadline and the final university deadline are considered on a space-available basis.
  3. While we review applications, strong domestic applicants or those who are already in the US can still apply. Please email the graduate student advisor with Prof. Han cc’ed to confirm and for more information.


For questions about the graduate application process, you may find answers on the following web pages

Or contact

For additional questions, feel free to contact Prof. Zhao Han (preferably with a complete application package)!

Why Prof. Zhao Han

Zhao Han

Zhao Han is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at the University of South Florida. He leads the Reality, Autonomy, and Robot Experience (RARE) Lab.

Prof. Han’s research lies broadly in human-robot interaction (HRI), robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and augmented reality (AR). He focuses on designing, developing, and evaluating novel robotic systems and interactions, for embodied robots to be more capable and understandable while interacting, collaborating, and teaming up with humans.

Prof. Han has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers in venues like the top HRI, robotics, cognitive science, and linguistics conferences. He collaborates across universities like CMU and disciplines like Psychology.

He received the best long-paper award at INLG 2022 and the best late-breaking report third prize at HRI 2022. Previously, he had led teams to win multiple international and national robot competitions, including first place in the Panasonic Prototype 3D LiDAR Challenge and second place in the FetchIt Mobile Manipulation Challenge at ICRA 2019.

He serves as publications co-chair of HRI 2024 (the top HRI conference), program committee member of HRI 2023 & 2024, and general co-chair of AI-HRI 2022. In addition to research, he received two university-wide Mines Diversity, Inclusion, and Access (DI&A) awards in 2022 and 2023.

He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UMass Lowell, advised by AAAI Fellow Dr. Holly Yanco, and received his M.S. and B.S. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Manitoba in Canada. Before USF, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Colorado School of Mines.

Why USF?

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USF (University of South Florida) is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a prestigious group of 71 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

USF ranks 45 among US public universities and 89 in the 2024 Best National Universities ranking by U.S. News & World Report. No other public university in the US has risen faster than USF in the past decade.

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USF is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”, and according to the National Science Foundation, USF spent $568 million on research and development in 2019, ranking it 43rd in the US and 25th among public universities.

Serving over 49,000 students, USF is designated as one of three Preeminent State Research Universities by the Florida Board of Governors, receiving additional financial support from the state of Florida for student success and research.

Florida Board of Governors

Why Tampa, Florida, USA?

USF is located in the City of Tampa on the west coast of the Sunshine State of Florida. The Tampa Bay area has around 3 million people and is one of the top places to live. Tampa also ranked second place in the top 10 fastest-growing US tech hubs for IT talent by CIO.

Learn more about Florida Gulf Coast Living for why over 49,000 students have chosen USF as well as from the US, State of Florida, and local (Tampa Bay, St. Pete/Clearwater) resources.