Higher Education System in Austria

The Austrian universities are distinguished by the wide range of disciplines they offer. The higher education system in Austria submits to the standards of the Bologna Process, an agreement signed by the EU member countries.

This cooperation is a way to facilitate the students’ transfer and their ability to pursue studies in other countries of Europe.

The agreement stated the unification of the higher education system and dividing the university study into three stages as the following:

Bachelor Degree

Students have to obtain a secondary certificate to join the bachelor stage. The study duration is three years: six to eight semesters.

The study is divided into two parts: theoretical and practical. They differ according to the discipline.

At the end of the study, each student submits research. The disciplines offered in the Austrian universities include engineering, physics, chemistry, science, linguistics, history, and others.

Master Degree

To enroll in a master degree, you have to obtain a bachelor degree first. Study extends to two years.

During this period, the student deepens in one of the selected disciplines. The study is usually in the form of field researches.

PhD Degree

You have to pass your master degree with good grades to be able to join a PhD program. The study duration is two years.

Moreover, it offers the student the ability to research independently. Students discuss a thesis at the end of the study period.


Another qualification delivered by public and private universities as well as universities of applied sciences in Austria, it is known as Diplomstudien. This degree’s programs have the same requirements as for bachelor’s and master’s programs. 

Students who complete this qualification will earn a Magister or Magistra degree. Austrian’s higher education institutions offer it for a wide range of area of study.

Educational Institutions

The higher education system in Austria is shaped by 4 types of institutions: 22 public universities, 16 private universities, 21 universities of applied sciences, and 14 university colleges of teacher education. Each of them offering a range of disciplines in many fields of study.

Austria has a long tradition of international recognition for its university education. The University of Vienna, founded in 1365, is the oldest institution of the country. It is also the oldest university of the German-speaking countries. 

Public Universities and Universities of Arts

The first and the largest type of higher education institution in Austria, public universities welcome more than 75% of all degree program students in the country. Among these 22 establishments, 6 of them are universities of the arts, 3 are medical universities and the last 3 are technical universities. 

Economics is the most required discipline in the University of Vienna, while the law is at the University of Innsbruck.

Moreover, technical sciences are a very popular discipline at the University of Graz.

If you have passion to gain knowledge in the fields of arts, such as music, fine arts, theater, or applied arts, the universities of arts in Austria are your best choice.

Private Universities

The private universities in Austria are authorized and internationally recognized institutions.

This encourages students from different nationalities to apply for programs in them. These universities offer high-level facilities for the students during their study period.

Both of the curricula and academic certificates differ from one university to another. These universities offer high-quality and innovative education. It gives great consideration to the students.

The Accreditation Council is the organization that regulates the private universities in Austria. Moreover, they have to be recognized by the state before being allowed to offer degree study programs to students.

University Colleges for Teacher Education

There are around 14 university colleges for teacher education in Austria. These institutions offer high-quality training for the elementary, secondary, and special needs teachers.

Moreover, study duration lasts for three years (6 semesters). They give the chance to gain a wide experience in the practical field.

Universities of Applied Sciences

The universities of applied arts (Fachhochschulen) started in 1990. They offer professional courses for students in different fields, such as business, engineering, information technology, design, and others. Their curricula are based on practical training.

Universities of Applied Sciences in Austria offer scientifically-founded and professionally-oriented study courses. They devote themselves to provide students with practice-focused training at university level, offering additionally or exclusively their courses to working students. 

For that, universities of applied sciences incorporate a period of practical learning along with their bachelor, master and diploma programs. 

The higher education system in Austria is a strong one. Most of the Austrian students enjoy a good education. This is how it attracts international students. Many of them aim to get the chance to study in one of the prestigious Austrian universities.

These universities have a high-quality infrastructure, in addition to high-efficiency teaching staff, who have various experiences in different fields. Although the admission process in the Austrian universities is a sort of easy, some require passing entry exams and mastering the German language.

Check our article about the top ten universities in Austria.

About Sara

A professional Eng><Ara translator and writer.

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