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Doctoral studies are roughly structured along three milestones: the decision on the topic, the supervisor and the signing of the dissertation / PhD agreement (in general after the first year of studies), the handing in of the dissertation / PhD project and the defence.

The diagram (download on the right side) illustrates the stages of the doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna from the very beginning to graduation. Each phase is explained in greater detail below. The processes described reflect the new curricula of our doctoral/PhD studies which apply to all those who have enrolled in a doctoral course (Dr.phil., Dr.rer.nat, PhD in Practice) since the winter semester of 2013.The stages of the doctoral studies in Architecture (Dr.techn.) deviate in some points, which is, however, mentioned in the respective text passage.

Please also note our FAQs, which provide you with information on many topics concerning the doctoral/PhD studies.


You will need to enroll personally at the Registrar's Office. Please find a list of the documents required under Admission to doctoral studies. Additionally, please note that for doctoral studies of Architecture, you will have to submit a confirmation of supervision already at this stage.

For the admission to the PhD in Practice program you need to pass the admission procedure, please inform yourself about the process and the deadlines: Phd in Practice.

Applicants who have not completed their diploma or Master studies in Austria have to submit proof of the equivalence of their international degree prior to admission. Please contact our Registrar's Office for further information and consider that the proof for equivalence takes two months.

Specification of Topic/Title and Supervisor(s), Drafting of the Exposé

After enrolling successfully, you are required to specify the topic of your doctoral thesis and the name of your supervisor (and possibly that of your second supervisor) and begin to draft your exposé. You can also find the list of potential supervisors on our website under Forms and documents.

PLEASE NOTE: Please use your official Academy email address as you will receive all relevant information on your studies, on job advertisements etc. via this address, or, alternatively, arrange for having your emails forwarded to another address (Forwarding).

Dissertation Agreement

Within your first year of enrolment of a Dr.phil., Dr.rer.nat., and PhD in Practice program, you are required to prepare a Dissertation Agreement (Dr.phil & Dr.rer.nat.; PhD in Practice) and to submit it to the Registrar's Office. However, you are not required to submit a Dissertation Agreement if you register for doctoral studies of Architecture (Dr.techn.).

PLEASE NOTE: You will be notified of the authorization of your Dissertation Agreement via email to your Academy email account. Therefore, please make sure that you check this account regularly, or have it forwarded to another email address of yours.

Entry of the Abstract and Profile into the Academy Online System

After receiving your Dissertation Agreement, the Registrar's Office will enter the data of your doctoral thesis into the Academy Online System. One to two weeks after submitting your Dissertation Agreement you can see the data of your thesis in your Academy Online account. From then on, you will be able to enter all required texts (abstract, profile and full-text version of your thesis) yourself. Please provide your abstract in BOTH German and English; your profile (a short biography) must be either in German or in English.

Please note: Before submitting their thesis, doctoral candidates themselves may change any of their data that has been fed into our online system.

Writing of the Doctoral Thesis

In addition to doing research, writing your doctoral/PhD thesis and passing several courses relevant to your doctoral studies, you are advised to acquire relevant skills and competences by e.g. attending workshops etc. You will find some detailed information on workshops for doctoral candidates, hosted by the Center for Doctoral Studies, here. Additionally, exchanging information aand networking with other PhD candidates (by attending relevant conferences, talks, etc.) have often proven very useful in the past. The Center for Doctoral Studies regularly sends out newsletters providing more information on such events; therefore, please make sure to check your Academy email account at regular intervals.

Submittal of the Doctoral Thesis

After completing your doctoral thesis, you are required to add a title page and an abstract in both German and English as well as a profile. You find all necessary forms for the completion of your doctoral/PhD studies here:Forms and documents.

As soon as you have completed your doctoral thesis, you can submit it electronically. For this purpose, please log onto the Academy Online System and upload a PDF of your thesis. Please note that after submitting the PDF, you are not permitted to make any changes to your thesis! The hardcover copies must correspond exactly to the submitted PDF. This is why you are not allowed to correct any typos etc. afterwards.

After uploading your thesis, you and your supervisor(s) will receive notification that your thesis can now be assessed and graded. Please note that your thesis supervisors as well as the external appraisers have a maximum of four months to assess and evaluate. To ensure that you will be able to keep your scheduled Thesis Defense date, you should submit your thesis at least five months prior to the scheduled day. You can find all registration deadlines and examination dates for doctoral vivae / Thesis Defenses under Exam dates.

After uploading your thesis, you are required to submit the following documents to the Registrar's Office:

  • Two hardcover copies of your doctoral thesis (no spiral binding!)
  • Form Declaration on Oath
  • Form Admission for Approbation

Note: The form "Admission for Approbation" must contain a list of five external appraisers, one of whom will then be chosen to provide the second evaluation. Beforehand, please ensure personally that each of the five external appraisers listed in the above form are actually willing to provide such an evaluation, and to travel to Vienna for your Thesis Defense. You also have the option of discussing with your supervisor(s) who might be eligible as an external appraiser. Basically, such appraisers have to be professors or members of faculty of the Academy or another university who are officially qualified to supervise dissertations there (venia docendi), who are experts in the respective field of your doctoral thesis, and who have not been involved in your supervision. Please note: Should there be any delay in the evaluation of a doctoral thesis, for instance because the external appraiser chosen does not have the required qualification (professorship or habilitation), this will be the sole responsibility of the doctoral candidate.

Appraisal and Assessment

Two appraisals are required for the assessment of your thesis: an appraisal by your supervisor (should you have two supervisors, they will submit a joint appraisal) plus an appraisal by an external appraiser who has not been involved in the supervision of your thesis. The final say in the choice of the external appraiser lies with the Vice-Rector for Art | Teaching.

The supervisor and the external appraiser will receive the thesis paper from the Registrar's Office as a PDF. The appraisal period is to last for four months maximum. (Each of) the supervisor(s) is required to evaluate the thesis. Therefore, the final grade of the thesis is the mean value of both grades given by the respective appraisers/supervisors.

As soon as both appraisals have been submitted to the Registrar's Office, the students are notified via email. You can register for your Thesis Defense on the next calendar dates.

Registration for the Thesis Defense

The Thesis Defense is an oral and public presentation and defense of your thesis before an examination panel.

You are allowed to register for the Thesis Defense as soon as you have (1) successfully completed all the courses required by the curriculum, and (2) both appraisals have been submitted, with a positive final grade for your thesis. The Thesis Defense can be held after a minimum of two weeks has elapsed after the submittal of the two appraisals.

When registering for your Thesis Defense, please submit the two forms "Ansuchen um Zulassung zur Ablegung der Defensio" (Application for Admission of taking the Thesis Defense: Form for PhD in Practice, Form for all other doctoral studies) and Examination Panel Thesis Defense at the Registrar's Office (you find all forms under Forms and documents). Please also note the respective calendar dates.

Please note: Prior to submitting these two forms, please ensure that all members of the examination panel have approved your desired date for the Thesis Defense. Usually, it is the best option for doctoral candidates to contact the respective departmental secretariat.

If your examination panel comprises members who are not employees of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, they will be required to submit the forms Data Sheet for External Examiners as well as the Confirmation of the External Examiners' Venia: (Forms and documents)


After successfully delivering your Thesis Defense, you have completed your doctoral studies. Congratulations! As soon as your final certificate is ready, you will receive an email from the Registrar's Office (please read this email carefully as you will have to obtain some statistics and a confirmation from the library). Then you can come and pick up your certificate. Please also notify the Registrar's Office whether you wish to participate in the degree award ceremony at the end of June.