Studying in Austria
The degree structure in Austrian higher education institutions today conforms to the Bologna Process, as detailed in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which brings it in line with other European countries.
There are five different types of higher educational institutions:
- Universitäten – federal universities;
- Universitäten der Künste – universities of the Arts;
- Privatuniversitäten – private universities;
- Fachhochschulen – universities of applied science;
- Pädagogische Hochschulen – university colleges of teacher education.
Austria has 13 private universities and over 20 federal or state universities among more than 70 HE institutions offering 2000+ degree programmes. Each university has its own specialist area, such as business, arts, engineering or medicine.
The institutions use a common credit system which is compatible with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).
What courses can you study?
Masters degrees typically take between two and four semesters (between 1–2 years), and doctoral courses take between 2 and 4 semesters (or 2–4 years). The majority of courses are taught in German, although some are taught in English, so check with the institution before applying.
The Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch (ÖSD), or Austrian German Language Diploma is accepted proof of German language competency that may be required by universities.
For detailed information on Austrian courses, visit Study in Austria where you can filter programmes taught in English. If you're proficient in German, Postgraduate.at is also a useful starting point.
Information on private universities in Austria is available at ÖPUK.
Postgraduate education is offered by universities and the university-level institutions of music, drama and art.
Universities are listed and ranked internationally at Top Universities.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
Application deadlines vary from institution to institution, so you are advised to enquire with each potential host organisation well in advance. Many of the websites of the institutions have information on the admission deadlines.
Procedures vary between institutions. Check the websites of the institutions you are interested in applying to for more information.
Fees and scholarships
While undergraduate study costs relatively little for Austrian and EU nationals, postgraduate study costs can vary and depend on the institution at which you are studying. Fees will differ from course to course so it's best to check the website and course description at the institution's website.
Living costs vary, and while part-time work may assist with funding some expenses, it is unlikely to cover all costs.
Grants may be available from the institution's own resources. Information on scholarships is available from the OeAD Grants website.
Also consider Erasmus+ Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees (JMDs), where students can go abroad for 3–12 months and may receive an Erasmus+ EU grant for studying or being trained overseas.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both under and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Austria through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), UK qualifications are usually recognised by an employer.
Do you need a visa to study in Austria?
UK students and other students from EU/EEA countries do not need a visa to study in Austria.
However, if you intend to stay for more than three months, then your permanent residence has to be registered with the authorities (Niederlassungsbehörde) within four months after arrival into the country. There are certain conditions, details of which you'll find at migration.gv.at.
If you're from a third country (outside the EU/EEA) and you want to study in Austria for up to 90 days, you'll need a Visa C, or Shengen Visa, (which also allows you to stay in other EU/EEA countries). For stays between 91 days and 6 months, a Residence Visa D (Aufenthaltsvisum D) is required.
If your course is for longer than six months you'll need a Residence Visa D and then to get a Residence Permit for Students (Aufenthaltsbewilligung Studierender) within the visa's time-limit. There are different rules depending on whether you have to sit an entrance exam or not. See the OeAD for detailed information.
AGCAS editors, March 2014