phd in austria

phd in austria

Find a doctoral position in Austria: A guide for researchers

You have completed your Master’s degree and are interested in a doctorate. Below you will find information on doctoral studies in Austria.

What is a doctorate?

A dissertation leads to a doctorate, the highest academic title in Austria. It is abbreviated to Dr. phil., in English-speaking countries PhD or DPhil/D.Phil. (from the Latin philosophiae doctor, which means teacher of philosophy). In Austria, a doctorate is a prerequisite for an academic career at a university or a research career in industry.

Where can you do a doctorate?

Universities and research institutes: In Austria, doctorates are only awarded by recognized universities. Universities of applied sciences and companies do not have the right to award doctorates. However, you are generally free to carry out your research wherever you wish: at one of the universities, in a private company or at home. The prerequisite is that the results of your research work must be accepted by a professor at one of the recognized universities.

For a list of Austrian universities and research institutions, you can consult the directory on myscience.at.

When should you start a doctorate?

In Austria, a doctorate is usually started immediately after the Master’s thesis (at the age of around 25 to 28). The average age of doctoral students at the end of their doctorate is 31. In contrast to the USA, Austrian doctoral students are expected to start their research project immediately after beginning their doctorate and are not expected to attend regular courses. However, they may participate in some advanced lectures, summer schools or doctoral programs.

Prerequisites for a doctorate

The prerequisite for starting a doctorate is a recognized Master’s degree (diploma, license). In contrast to the USA, a Bachelor’s degree is not sufficient. Sometimes a certain final grade is required to be admitted to a doctoral program. Each university has its own admission requirements. Ask the university for the exact conditions.

Duration of the doctorate

The duration of the doctorate is not standardized: As a rule, it is between 3 and 6 years, depending on the field of research. A doctorate in natural sciences and engineering usually takes between 4 and 5 years. In economics, for example at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, the duration is often only 3 years. In the humanities, a doctorate is usually completed in 4 to 6 years.

Salary and funding

Salary: PhD students are usually employed as research assistants/doctoral students at a university, although a research position in a company is also possible. The salary varies greatly depending on the location: from EUR 2,000 to over EUR 4,000 per month. The salary must be stated in the employment contract. Funding can come from the university, from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) or from third-party funds and is often a mixture of these sources.

Working conditions: Working conditions vary from institution to institution. It is quite common for PhD students to be employed only part-time (e.g. 50 or 60%). Sometimes you can use all your working hours for your research, sometimes you have to give lectures or supervise students in addition to your research. This must be stated in the job description (job specification), which you will receive together with your employment contract. If you are employed less than 100%, you can do whatever you want the rest of the time, e.g. take on a second job. This is quite common in the humanities, where doctoral students often have multiple jobs. In the sciences, PhD students are often expected to work 100%, even if they are only employed part-time. Legally, however, they are free to take on a second job.

Some disciplines in Austria are now better organized and offer so-called doctoral programmes.

How to proceed?

First of all, you should decide which subject area you would like to study. Then find out which university or company is doing research in that field. Find the professor or research group whose work interests you the most and contact them directly to ask about opportunities.