Which doctoral programmes exist?

There are three doctoral programmes at the TU Wien, which only differ in the name of the degree, and are otherwise equivalent:

  • Doctor of technical sciences (Dr. techn.doctor/doctrix technicæ, E786): This is the most common doctoral programme and is intended for alumni of technical studies.
  • Doctor of (natural) sciences (Dr. rer. nat.doctor/doctrix rerum naturalium, E791): This programme is intended for applicants with science degrees.
  • Doktor of social and economic sciences (Dr. rer. soc. oec.doctor/doctrix rerum socialium oeconomicarumque, E784): This programme is intended for applicants with social or economic degrees.

Is the doctoral programme assigned to a certain to a certain scientific degree?

In the process of admission, the doctoral programme has to be assigned to a certain field of study. The ID of the doctoral programme (e.g. E786)  is then assigned to the respective field of study. For example, in technical physics (formerly programme ID E810), the complete ID will then be E 786 810.

Usually, the most convenient way to assign to a certain programme is to tell the department for studies and examinations your field of study. Another advantage of that approach is, that also the appropriate dean of studies is chosen.

Which doctoral programme will I be assigned to?

Unfortunately, there are no fixed guidelines, so this is decided at the point of admission on a case-by-case basis.

For alumni of the Vienna University of Technology, the department for studies and examinations decides, while for foreign students, the dean of studies has the last word. They usually apply the following criteria:

In most cases, alumni of the TU Wien will be assigned Dr. techn. (E786).

What do I need to consider before applying for the doctoral programme of social and economic sciences (Dr. rer. soc. oec.)?

This is in principle possible, though quite unusual in practice.

The reason is that your doctoral studies need to be assigned a field of study present at the Vienna University of Technology and you need a master's degree that is related to that field. Since the Vienna University of Technology does not offer any master's programme of economics, macroeconomics, or social sciences, which makes the admission process more complicated.

Furthermore, you need to find a supervisor related to your desired thesis topic. Eventually, you also have to take additional courses (see admission).

Which curriculum is applicable?

Since October 1st, 2012, there is a common curriculum (in German) for all students of all three doctoral programmes.

There is an official English translation of the old 2007 curriculum, which is to a large extent still applicable because the revision in 2012 was only a minor one. The translation is however of somewhat poor quality. Fortunately, the most important points can also be found on this site and of course you can drop us a note if you have any questions.

Are the courses for PhDs held in English?

There are both English and German courses at the TU Wien. While almost all undergraduate courses are held in German, many graduate-level courses—which typically are the ones interesting for you—are offered in English (though to which degree depends on the field).

We recommend to check the language for each lecture of your interest before getting the dean of studies' approval. If there is a course in German particularly interesting to you, you can also try to contact the speaker if they can offer the lecture (or at least the exam) in English instead.

Concerning the language of your PhD thesis, please refer to the FAQ item on the language of your thesis.

I have a degree from some other university. Can I enroll for a doctoral programme at the TU Wien?

Yes. The prerequisites are the same for alumni of the TU Wien and other universities, however you need to apply for admission at the department for studies and examinations.

Additionally, you need find a supervisor for your thesis which is a Professor at the Vienna University of Technology (o. Univ.-Prof., a. o. Univ.-Prof., or Priv. Doz.).

Please note that that your doctoral studies need to be assigned to a field of study present at the Vienna University of Technology and you need a master's degree that is related to that field. If you, e.g., want to enroll for the doctoral programme in the field of Chemistry, you need a master's degree in Chemistry (or related).

I have a degree at a technical college (Fachhochschule, FH). Can I enroll for a doctoral programme at the TU Wien?

Yes, this is possible if the degree is related to a field of study present at the Vienna University of Technology. You can find the application form here.

In the case of admission, you might be required to do additional courses depending on the duration of your previous studies and the relevancy of your degree to your chosen field. You will find such requirements in your admission notice issued by the dean of studies.

There are some Austrian FH degrees that automatically admit you for the doctoral programmes (link in German). You may still be asked to do up to 60 ECTS credits of additional courses.

You can find more information at the department for studies and examinations, and the HTU office for foreign students.

I have completed a university course (Universitätslehrgang/Lehrgang mit universitären Charakter). Can I enroll for a doctoral programme at the TU Wien?

This has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. There is no legal guarantee for admission.

In the case of admission, you may be required to do additional courses up to 60 ECTS. You will find such requirements in your admission notice issued by the dean of studies.

Do I need a supervisor, a thesis topic, or a list of courses already at the point of admission?

No. However, we recommend you to look for a supervisor and a provisional thesis topic before enrollment.

Alumni of a foreign college or university will also need a written statement by a Professor (o. Univ.-Prof., a. o. Univ.-Prof., or Priv. Doz.) at the Vienna University of Technology, proving the willingness to be your supervisor (Betreuungszusage).

How does a suspension of studies ("Beurlaubung") work?

You have to apply no later than four weeks into the semester (sometime at the end of October or March, respectively). There is a form available at the department for studies and examinations.

Once you have suspended your studies, you do not have to pay any tuition fees. On the other hand, you are not allowed to do any exams. You do not change to the newest curriculum once you resume your studies.

Do I have to remain enroled in the doctoral programme for the whole duration of my studies?

No. You only have to be enrolled when starting your studies, at the point of your defense and whenever you want to take an exam.

Note that when you re-enroll, you automatically switch to the currently valid curriculum. 

Is it possible to work beside the doctoral programme?

Yes, if your supervisor agrees to this and you are able to complete the the required coursework worth 18 ECTS credits.

Note however that a doctoral thesis, particularly in technical science, is typically three years of full-time work. This means that working on it part-time and/or irregularily might lengthen this process significantly.

To complicate matters further, the scientific process has been speeding up and many fields have become more volatile to trends and “hot topics”. This has two effects: it makes it more difficult to keep up with current scientific knowledge, and it makes some research time-critical to avoid being “scooped”. Also, the fluctuation among scientific staff nowadays is more severe and scientific output is gaining more and more weight. Many supervisors are aware of this and therefore prefer fast and steady progress.[citation needed]

There are basically two scenarios:

  1. your thesis topic is related to/part of your work: In many cases, doctoral students are employed at the Vienna Univesity of Technology or private companies in the respective field. This saves you the time of getting to know your field, and you might be able to use results and data of your job for your thesis (but check with your employer first!). Writing your thesis will still be a lot of work that you will have to do mostly outside of your job, but it will be faster than if ...
  2. your thesis topic is unrelated to your work: this means that your thesis is essentially your “hobby”. Doing science is rewarding, but also very challenging, particularly after a hard day of work. It takes a lot of commitment, but some people argue that it can very well be done.

Do I have the intellectual rights in case of an invention?

If you are employed at the Vienna University of Technology, the employer has to be informed about the invention. Currently, a one-time invention bonus as well as 35% from the net revenues are reserved for the inventor.

If the Vienna University of Technology has no interest in the invention, private utilization is possible. For project assistents, the utilization rights of the project funder have to be respected as well. You can find more details in the message from the vice-rector for research regarding job-related inventions at TU Wien (german). For a thesis with interests of exploitation it is possible to apply for a publication suspension of up to five years( UG 2002 § 86 Abs. 2).

Can I send my application / CV to the Fachschaft Doktorat?

Please don't.

We are the doctoral student representatives of the Vienna University of Technology.  We represent and offer support to (future) doctoral students, but we do not process your application.  We are not responsible for admission to the different programmes.

Please take a look at the dedicated section on our website, where we compiled a lot of information on the admission process. As a first step, you should try to find a supervisor for your doctoral thesis.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

I am currently unemployed and thus not covered by a health insurance plan. What are my options for public health insurance?

If you are a legal resident of Austria, you are eligible for an insurance plan at the public health insurance  administration ("Gebietskrankenkasse") of your federal state's residence. Usually the monthly fee will be around EUR 370. However, as a doctoral student you are eligible for the student rate of around EUR 60 if you are still within the minimum of six semesters + four semesters of the doctoral programme.

Is there any age limit for starting a PhD?