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Whether you want to soak up the culture and history of beautiful cities like Vienna, or check out some of Europe's top Alpine ski resorts, studying a Masters in Austria will leave you with some great memories. And, with historic universities, modern postgraduate programmes and globally renowned institutions, it'll also leave you with a great degree!
This guide covers all the essential information you need to know about Masters study in Austria, explaining the Austrian university system, tuition fees and the application process. We’re also keeping an eye on the effect of coronavirus on students in Austria.
Located at the heart of Europe, Austria has a proud intellectual and cultural tradition that is reflected in the quality of its higher education system. Fittingly for a country that has produced thinkers and artists as diverse as Freud, Mozart and Schwarzenegger (!), Austria has an excellent selection of universities to choose from.
We’ve listed some of the main reasons why you should consider studying a Masters in Austria in 2019:
|Masters Study in Austria - Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Vienna (1365)|
|Course Length||1-2 years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||None (subject to conditions)|
|Academic Year||October to September|
For the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on studying a Masters in Austria, please read the official Study in Austria COVID-19 guidance page. Here you can find updates regarding travel warnings and restrictions.
These are the three types of university offering Masters degrees in Austria:
Austria also offers 14 specialist university colleges of teacher education (Pädagogische Hochschulen). As their name suggests, these focus specifically on teacher training programmes.
Although Austria is a relatively small country, with a population of around 8.98 million, it’s lucky enough to have a good selection of vibrant student cities to choose from.
We’ve listed the main higher education hubs below, which you can use to browse Masters degrees in those particular locations.
Austrian universities appear in all three major global rankings systems – befitting a country with some of Europe's most historic cities and universities.
The highest ranked university in Austria is also the country's oldest: the University of Vienna appears in the top 200 of all three major ranking systems.
|University||THE 2021||QS 2021||ARWU 2020|
|University of Vienna||=164||=150||151-200|
|Medical University of Graz||201-250||-||401-500|
|Medical University of Innsbruck||201-250||-||501-600|
|Medical University of Vienna||201-250||-||201-300|
|University of Klagenfurt||301-350||511-520||801-900|
|Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.|
International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.
Like other European countries, Austria used to award 'longer-cycle' qualifications of varying length, rather than distinguishing clearly between separate undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The traditional Austrian equivalent to the Master's degree was (and in some cases still is) the Diploma programme (Diplomstudium) or Magister qualification.
Rather than being a postgraduate qualification, Masters-level Diploma programmes usually cover the period of study for an undergraduate and postgraduate degree – awarding a Masters-level qualification after a longer period of study.
Diploma programmes are still offered at some institutions but, as part of the Europe-wide Bologna Process, most are being phased out in favour of modern postgraduate Masters degrees awarding MA (Master of Arts) MSc (Master of Science) and similar qualifications. These are 'second cycle' programmes, completed after a separate three-year Bachelors degree.
Postgraduate study in Austria can be very flexible, with a range of programme lengths to suit different subjects and students.
The actual length of any given course will usually be measured in semesters rather than years. There are two semesters in the Austrian academic year (which runs from October to September, including holidays). A modern Masters degree normally takes two to four semesters, whilst a traditional Diploma programme will take between six and eight.
Austrian Masters students take a mixture of core and optional courses.
During the first year, students will study more general topics relevant to their chosen programme. In the second year, students will have added freedom to select optional units and pursue academic specialisms. This two-stage approach can help you make the most of Masters-level study: acquiring the core knowledge necessary to identify and pursue your own interests and concluding with a dissertation that follows through on these.
The two years of a typical programme are divided by a three-month summer break. Many students use this to gain additional study or work experience – or to complete a placement or exchange programme elsewhere. This can be an ideal opportunity for international students – giving you the chance to visit home, further explore life in Austria, or take advantage of Austria's central location and spend time in a neighbouring country.
Austrian Masters degrees also provide the opportunity to develop research skills through coursework and writing a thesis (or dissertation) – this usually takes up the final semester of a two-year program, but may not be required by shorter vocationally-orientated courses at Fachhochschulen.
Where required, a thesis will be worth around 20-40 ECTS credits. Part of this value may depend on your oral 'defence' – see below.
Masters programmes in Austria use the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). A two-year Masters degree at a University is normally worth 120-150 ECTS credits. A shorter, one-year course at a Fachhochschule is normally worth 60. This can be perfect as a source of focussed professional training, but won't normally be sufficient as an entry requirement for academic PhD study.
Austrian Diploma programmes pre-date the new ECTS system, but, where offered, they should be worth the equivalent of 240 to 360 ECTS credits.
Austrian Masters programmes are usually assessed on a unit-by-unit basis, with each unit carrying a designated ECTS credit value along with your dissertation (if required). Your performance across individual units and the final dissertation will then be used to calculate an overall degree result.
Assessment tasks may vary between subject areas and degree programmes, but will usually include written assignments, smaller research tasks, placements, practical projects and examinations, as appropriate.
Your dissertation will be marked as a piece of written work, but may also require an oral 'defence'. This will involve giving a short presentation about your work and / or answering questions about your findings and conclusions. Several other European higher education systems use a similar system to assess Masters degrees, giving students the chance to stand up and take credit for their work in a similar way to the 'viva voce' defence that concludes a PhD.
Different types of university in Austria use slightly different grading formats.
Public universities use a four-band grading system:
|Masters Degree Grades at Austrian Public Universities|
|1||Sehr Gut (Very Good)||The best possible grade, demonstrating excellent achievement|
|2||Gut (Good)||A strong grade, demonstrating above average achievement|
|3||Befriedigend (Satisfactory)||A decent passing grade, demonstrating acceptable achievement|
|4||Genügend (Passed)||A minimum passing grade, demonstrating merely sufficient achievement|
A fifth grade band Nicht Genügend denotes failed work.
Universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschule) also use four grade bands, but do not give these numeric values:
|Masters Degree Grades at Austrian Public Universities|
|Distinction||An exceptional achievement, awarded to the very best students|
|Excellent||A strong grade, well above average|
|Very Good||An above-average grade|
|Passed||An acceptible grade, demonstrating sufficient competency for a degree to be awarded|
Any work that falls below these standards is considered to have Failed and will not lead to the award of a degree.
Private universities in Austria are free to design and administer their own assessment and grading systems (though their degree programs must still be officially accredited). In practice these may be similar to those used by Public institutions, but there is no requirement that they adopt the same bands or descriptions.
Austria is one of several European countries with a very generous approach to tuition fees at its public universities. In fact, no fees are charged to students on Bachelors or Masters programmes. Better yet, this generosity also applies to the fees for many international postgraduates in Austria!
If you are an EU or EEA national, you can study a Masters in Austria for free, provided you complete your programme on time.
You will normally be allowed the minimum duration of your programme plus a further two semesters of free study (in practice this means three years for most Masters programmes). After this you will be charged €363.36 per semester.
Students from other countries will normally be charged €726.72 per semester. This puts the cost of a typical two year (four semester) Masters programme in Austria at €2,906.88. Note that Fachhochschulen (Austrian universities of applied sciences) can charge Masters fees of up to €363.36 per semester to domestic and EU students, though not all will do so.
Whether or not you are charged tuition fees for your Masters in Austria, you will need to pay some additional administrative costs. These include a student union membership fee (ÖH-Beitrag), set at €18.70 a semester, meaning that the total cost across a two-year Masters will be €74.80. Included in this price is the fee for Austria’s compulsory student accident insurance.
Even if you don't pay tuition fees to study a Masters in Austria, you'll still need to cover your costs whilst living in the country. Remember too that one of the conditions of your student visa or residence permit will be the possession of sufficient financial resources to support yourself as you study.
Luckily there are a wide range of available scholarships for Masters study in Austria. Some of the main providers include:
There is no central system for international applications to study abroad in Austria. In most cases you should find a suitable programme and apply directly to the university responsible – all of the Austrian Masters degrees listed on FindAMasters include application information.
The deadline for application to study a Masters in Austria is normally the September prior to the beginning of your course (normally in October).
This may seem quite relaxed, with the application window remaining open until almost the beginning of the academic year. Remember though that you will need to complete a separate visa application as an international student and may also need to supply accredited transcripts and translations of documents relating to your academic record.
For this reason you should begin your application well ahead of the deadline – ideally during the summer prior to your Masters or even during the final year of your undergraduate programme (Austrian universities will usually accept a projected degree result in lieu of a completed Bachelors degree).
As is normal for higher education systems operating within the European Higher Education Area, Austrian universities will expect postgraduate applicants to hold an undergraduate degree (or be in the process of completing one).
Your qualification should be a Bachelors degree or its equivalent, worth at least 180 ECTS credits (all three-year European undergraduate degrees should satisfy this requirement). This qualification should be in a subject related to your Masters. In some cases, an Austrian university may also wish to confirm that a certain number of your undergraduate credits (or their equivalent) were earned for work associated with your chosen postgraduate subject and / or specialism.
You should begin your application by contacting the university responsible for your Masters program. Austrians take administrative procedures very seriously so be sure to supply all required documentation and follow instructions to the letter.
In most cases you will require the following documents:
Some courses may also request graduate entry test scores, a CV, personal statement, academia references or an artistic portfolio, as relevant.
Note that all diplomas and certificates submitted as part of your application must be official documents with the official stamp (or 'apostille') of the institution that awarded them.
Documents not originally published in German may also need to be translated (and the translation certified by an accredited professional, such as a lawyer). Universities may have a preferred service for this process.
The language of Austria is German and this is the medium for most of the country's degree programmes. However, as international study in Austria becomes more popular, universities are offering more programmes in English – particularly at postgraduate level.
Exact language requirements for an Austrian Masters degree will depend on your situation and the requirements set for your course:
Austria is a member of the EU and the EEA, with a welcoming attitude to international applicants. In fact, over 70,000 people study abroad in Austria.
Visa requirements for postgraduate study in Austria depend on student nationality:
All students are also required to register separately as residents in their local area - this is done at your nearest Registration Office.
If you are not a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland you will need both a visa and a Student Residence Permit to enter Austria.
There are two types of visa suitable for entry into Austria as an international student:
Remember, you will only need one of these visas to enter Austria if you are not an EU / EEA national (or a citizen of Switzerland).
You should begin your application for an Austrian visa and Residence Permit at an Austrian consulate or embassy in your home country. In most cases the following documents will be required in addition to completed application forms:
If you are a citizen of an EU or EEA member state (or of Switzerland) you will only need to apply for Confirmation of Registration, once within Austria. You can do this at any appropriate local authority, such as a magistrate or immigration office near to your university.
In addition to an application form, you will normally need to provide:
The fee for receiving confirmation of registration is normally €15.
International students in Austria are required to have a valid health insurance policy. Your requirements will depend on your nationality:
Austria's position at the centre of Europe makes it a great platform for further work and study – whether in neighbouring countries or in Austria itself. The reputation of the country's universities and their participation within the European Higher Education Area also means that your Austrian Masters degree will be widely recognised by universities and employers in Europe and beyond.
Student employability is a key concern for Austrian universities, most of which will have active careers offices and support staff, ready to assist you with your future plans. After all, your success as a graduate reflects back on your university and Austrian universities are rightly proud of their reputation.
Yes, but your right to work and the amount of time you can spend seeking employment will depend on your nationality and visa status.
Whatever your circumstances, your chance of finding work in Austria will be improved if you have proficiency in German (though a combination of German and English may also be an advantage in some professions). Employers are also likely to respect timely completion of a degree programme as well as the final grade achieved for it.
Yes – an Austrian Masters degree is (unsurprisingly) a great preparation for a PhD in Austria (or elsewhere). Be aware, however, that a one-year, 60 ECTS credit, professional Masters from a Fachhochschule may not be suitable as an entry qualification for academic PhD study. Make sure you check that your Masters degree fits with your future study (or employment) plans.
Last updated - 08/09/2020