Recruiting PhD students

Hi! I’m Nathan Malkin, an assistant professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, and I’m looking for PhD students to join me in researching user experience (UX) and human factors in privacy & security.

The deadline for the next admissions cycle is October 15, 2024

Since that’s relatively far into the future, I recommend contacting me first if you want to apply. There may be some potential for processing applications on a rolling basis.


Multiple fully-funded PhD student positions are typically available.

Research area:

  • How do people make security/privacy decisions, and how can we make it easier for them?

Sample research topics:

  • Privacy in ubiquitous computing environments (e.g., smart home and AR/VR)
  • Security for at-risk users and vulnerable populations
  • Usability improvements to authentication


  • Bachelors or master’s degree in computer science or related field
  • Or: social science (economics, sociology, psychology, etc.) background with strong quantitative skills

Below, I provide additional information and try to answer frequently asked questions.

Position details and expectations

What would you be working on?

I work at the intersection of security and privacy with human-computer interaction and social computing. My goal is to make computing more private and secure; to do this, I focus on understanding and leveraging human factors.

Much of my research involves working directly with people to understand how they make security and privacy decisions. This often involves surveys and interviews, as well as direct experiments and interventions. My research also frequently has a design component, for example prototyping an interface and measuring how people use it.

Here are examples of questions I’ve studied in the past:

You can see my publications for more examples of projects you might work on.

As a PhD student, you will have substantial freedom to determine the topic you work on, as long as it falls broadly into the category of human-centered security. Otherwise, your research interests may be a better fit for one of the many other awesome faculty in the departments of Informatics, Computer Science, or Data Science.

What background do you need to have?

The most important prerequisite for this position is research fit — a strong interest in the areas and approaches described above. A PhD typically takes 4–7 years, and that’s way too much time to spend on something you’re not interested in.

I expect most candidates will have a bachelor’s or master’s in computer science or data science, with at least some experience in security.

Candidates with social science backgrounds (economics, sociology, psychology, etc.) could be a good fit as well. They will likely need to have experience with statistics and quantitative analysis, and be comfortable with some amount of coding (e.g., in Python or R) that these often require.

Application process and suggestions

The authoritative source of information, and also the place where you actually apply, is Below, I’ve tried to gather some information that may help, but please double-check everything yourself:

You do not need to email me before applying. If you do decide to email me or another professor, here’s some great advice from David Evans. If you have questions not addressed on this page, I will do my best to answer them.

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for a Fall 2024 start date has passed. The next official deadline is October 15, 2024, for the term beginning Spring 2025. For those aiming to start in Fall 2025, the application deadline will be December 15, 2024.

What is included in the application?

In order to apply for the PhD program, you need to submit the following materials:

  • statement of purpose
    • This should describe your motivation for pursuing a doctoral degree, research interests and prior research experience, etc.
    • These statements are most effective when they are specific and go into depth about your research experiences and future ideas. Here’s some more personal advice about how to write the SoP.
    • I also recommend keeping in mind the faculty with whom you’d be working.
  • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Letters from professors are most effective.
    • Several professors have written advice for other faculty, especially from non-US institutions, that you might consider passing along:
  • TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores (waived for institutions where instruction is in English)
  • GRE exam scores
  • academic transcript
  • CV/résumé
  • an application fee

Should you apply to the Information Science or Computer Science PhD program?

My home department is Informatics, so, if you are certain that you want to work specifically with me, things will be a bit easier, with respect to admissions and paperwork, if you apply for the doctoral degree in Information Science. However, I do expect to be able to advise students in CS as well (after going through a formal process this spring). So if there are other faculty on the CS side whom you are considering as advisors (or if you really want your degree to say “PhD in Computer Science” rather than “PhD in Information Science”), it could make sense to apply to CS instead.