Doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna serve to deepen candidates' understanding of history and theory, and support them in carrying out experimental research in art history and cultural studies, or of the respective social contexts of the artistic/cultural field involved.

For admission, a Master's or similar degree (Diplomstudium) in the fields of the humanities, cultural studies, fine arts, or Secondary School TeacherAccreditation in a relevant school subject is prerequisite. This PhD program comprises 6 semesters (which is equal to 180 ECTS credits). One year after admission at the latest, a Thesis Agreement (Dissertationsvereinbarung) has to be concluded, specifying the main parameters of the supervision process.

Candidates are expected to attend courses comprising a minimum of 14 credit hours (or 20 ECTS credits). At least three such courses must be chosen from the seminars specifically offered to PhD candidates: Dissertant_innenseminare (3 ECTS credits or 2 credit hours each), and/or Privatissima (individual tutorials for selected participants, 2 ECTS credits or 2 credit hours each). All other courses can be freely chosen from the range of courses offered by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna or by other Austrian or international institutions of post-secondary education; such courses must, however, in form and content be relevant to the candidate's doctoral thesis, or complement the respective field of studies. These electives are to be specified in the Thesis Agreement.