The language of instruction is usually German. Many institutions, however, also offer courses in other languages. In the last decades, the Austrian universities system has introduced the European three tier system of degrees according to the Bologna Process. Besides, the old two tier system still exists in some subject areas and universities (for example medicine).
Following on from general and vocational education and training courses, the Austrian universities offer degree programs in the
- Artistic Studies,
- Programmes leading to qualified teaching credentials in upper secondary schools, as well as
- Medicines and health science
- Natural science
- Theological studies
Generally, every degree programme belongs to one of the study groups, which determines the academic degree. Students can also follow an individual study programme (i.e. a combination of examination subjects from different study programmes) if it approved by the university.
Private universities provide diploma programmes only in the fields of human medicine and catholic theology.
Structure of Study Programmes:
Currently, three different types of degree programmes exist in Austria, but diploma studies will be discontinued.
Bachelor’s Degree Programmes:
According to the Bologna Declaration, the Austrian universities have already organized most of their study programmes in the form of bachelor’s degree programmes (3 to 4 years, 180 to 240 ECTS).
- The bachelor’s degree programmes provide scientific or artistic vocational education and training and a qualification in the corresponding specialist area and lead to the awarding of a bachelor’s degree.
Master’s Degree Programmes:
Master’s programmes, which require the successful completion of a bachelor’s study programme (1 to 2 years, 60 to 120 ECTS) and conclude with the academic degree of Master.
- Depending on the specialist area involved, master’s degree programmes lead to the awarding of a master’s degree (Master … or Diplom-Ingenieur/in).
Diploma Studies (Diplomstudien):
Usually, these studies take 8 to 12 semesters (240 to 300 ECTS), they consist of two or three study sections, each of which is concluded with a degree examination. Those who successfully complete the programme are awarded a degree, such as:
- a master’s degree
- a diploma, i.e. master’s degree in engineering (Diplom-Ingenieur/in)
- exception: in medical studies, the degree Doctor of General Medicine (Doktor/in der gesamten Heilkunde) or the degree Doctor of Dentistry (Doktor/in der Zahnheilkunde) is awarded.
Doctoral and Ph.D Programmes:
Doctoral programmes and Ph.D. programmes (Doctor of Philosophy) build on diploma degree and master’s degree programmes at universities or universities of applied sciences and mainly provide further development of a student’s ability to carry out independent research and are conceived to demonstrate the ability of autonomous research.
- Completion of the study programme (after 3 years) goes along with the awarding of the doctoral degree in the relevant field (Doctor or PhD).
These programmes conclude with the award of a traditional university degree:
- Magistra or Magister in most disciplines or Diplom-Ingenieur(in) for engineers.
- Duration: 4 – 6 years.
The academic year in Austria, as a rule, begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year. It consists of two semesters:
- Winter semester (October 1st to January 30th),
- Summer semester (March 1st to September 30th)
There are also periods during which no lectures held (Christmas, semester, and summer breaks). Also at universities of applied sciences, the academic year starts around 1 October.
Exceptions to this schedule are possible; please enquire at the educational institution of your choice.