Studying in Austria

Study in Austria
Updated 2023-08-06 14:27

Austrian universities are highly esteemed throughout Europe, boasting a diverse range of courses available in both German and English. Studying in Austria presents numerous advantages, including affordable tuition fees. Moreover, the country is renowned for its exceptional universities that warmly embrace international students each semester.

The Austrian higher education system

Popular courses of study and research in Austria include German language, humanities, music, arts, marketing, business, and most diverse courses at medical universities and technical universities. Numerous students and researchers from all over the world come to Austria to study and teach at local universities, where conducting interdisciplinary research work is considered an important part of the curriculum.

The academic year in Austria begins in October and ends in September. It is divided into winter and summer semesters with lecture-free periods (“holidays”), usually held in February and July /August.

The major university cities in Austria include Vienna, Innsbruck, Graz, Linz and Salzburg. These cities also offer culture, entertainment, and nightlife, student housing options, and various employment opportunities.

Vienna is home to the oldest university in the German-speaking world, founded 650 years ago. If you plan to study in Austria's capital, find out more in our article "Studying in Vienna".

Find your study program in Austria

You can choose between more than 70 higher education institutions in Austria that offer more than 2000 degree programs. The Postsecondary and Tertiary Level of the Austrian Education system is divided in the following categories of Continuing Education Courses at Universities:

  • Universities of Applied Sciences (“FH/Fachhochschulen”)
  • Universities of Teacher Education (“Pädagogische Hochschule”)
  • University (“Universität”)

Source: Statistik Austria 2022

If you are unsure which degree program you would like to enroll in, visit this website by OEeD (Agency for Education and Internationalisation), run by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. In the study program's database, you will find an overview of the existing courses.

Furthermore, the database GRANTS provides information about research grants and scholarships in Austria.

In addition, there is also the EU's Erasmus program, which offers already enrolled students the opportunity to study in Austria for one or more semesters as part of their study experience. The objectives of the Erasmus and Erasmus programs are to support and realize a common European Higher Education Area, to promote mobility, and to strengthen the contribution of higher education and advanced professional education.

What is the difference between “Universität” and “Fachhochschule” in Austria?

There is a wide range of Fachhochschule (FH) (Universities of Applied Sciences) degree programs, especially in the technical, economic or social fields. These degree programs are usually more practice-oriented than university degree programs. Medicine and law are only offered at universities. However, an advantage of the “Fachhochschulen” is that many degree programs are also offered on a part-time basis in the evenings and at weekends to enable working people to study as well. Fees may be regulated somewhat differently than at universities.

University admissions in Austria

To be accepted into an Austrian university, you will need to hold a degree, graduating from a secondary school, which is referred to as “Matura” in Austria—it is the Austrian equivalent for “Abitur” in Germany. In special cases, there is the possibility of studying without a secondary school certificate. Austrian law allows students to apply for a specific course of study on the basis of the so-called “Studienberechtigungsprüfung”. One of the prerequisites to be eligible for it is a German language level of at least C1.

You should also show knowledge in German and/or English, depending on your course of study. Letters of recommendation may also be required, as are sometimes entrance exams that will define if you are accepted to study or not. Most undergraduate courses are taught in German, while master's and PhD courses have English-language offerings. Applications to study are made directly with the university of your preference. Each university may have slightly different admission guidelines, so contact your university of choice for more detail on the application process.

Tuition fees in Austria

Generally, university education is free of charge in Austria, and this applies to Austrians, EU and EEA passport holders, although some small fees, such as student union membership, are required of all students. The Bachelor studies are free of charge during the standard duration of 6 semesters and 2 tolerance semesters. In Master's programs, students will have to pay the tuition fee from their 7th semester onwards.

For non-EU/EEA countries, tuition fees vary depending on the university and course. For more information, consult your preferred university.

Student visas in Austria

EU/EEA passport holders do not require a visa to study in Austria. However, they will need a residence permit for courses of study for longer than six months. This can be obtained before arrival from the Austrian embassy.

Students from outside these countries will need a visa, with visa type D being the most common student visa for those studying for up to six months. Students studying for longer than six months need to apply for a residence permit for study purposes. To apply for visa type D or a residence permit, both of which must be done before arrival into the country, students will need to provide:

  • Passport and recent passport photographs
  • Completed visa application form
  • Proof of university admission
  • Evidence of health insurance
  • Sufficient funds (through evidence such as bank statements)
  • Evidence of accommodation arrangements for the duration of their stay in the country

There can be waiting times for visa processing, so you are advised to submit your application at least three to six months before the start date of your program. For more information on visa types, contact your local Austrian embassy.

Mobility and City Life in Austria

Austria offers high quality of life, social security and modern infrastructure in Central Europe. 

The OeAD, the Agency for Education and Internationalisation, provides support and information for international researchers and students about residence and employment in Austria.

Students can use public transport at reduced prices and receive reduced admission fees to many cultural events, such as opera, theatre, museums and music concerts. The cycle paths are becoming more and more extensive, and the Austrian cities are famous for their many gardens and parks. Mobility projects bring great opportunities. Public transport is among the best in the world, and relatively few people use cars in cities. Many European destinations can be easily reached from Austria at any time by plane, bus or (night) train, which also gives students the opportunity to get to know neighboring countries.

Most of Austria's students live in the capital. Many students and researchers in Vienna appreciate the internationality of the city. Restaurants from all over the world can be found, and international food can be bought at any time. However, foreign students report that Austrian bureaucracy can be difficult to deal with in some cases without knowledge of the German language.

Learning German in Austria

In Austria, most courses at universities are conducted in German. At some universities, you need proficiency in German corresponding to level B2 (according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEFR); at others, a corresponding level of C1. If you want to be admitted to a German language course at a pre-study program (“Vorstudienlehrgang”) before you start your regular studies, proof of a German language level of at least A2 is required.

The diploma “Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch” is Austria's officially recognized examination system for German as a foreign and second language. It is the equivalent of the Goethe-Zertifikat in Germany. There are licensed examination centers all over the world. For public matters, it makes no difference whatsoever whether you have studied German in Austria or Germany. However, you should check what level of the officially recognized examination is required for the respective degree program.

Financing your studies in Austria

It is relatively easy to find a student's job in Austria. For more opportunities, it can be helpful or required to have basic knowledge of German, depending on the job. Students from the EU and EEA have free access to the Austrian job market. Some students decide to work full time during term break, in July and August. During the academic year, in addition to studying, you can earn tax-free up to the marginal income limit (“Geringfügigkeitsgrenze”). In 2023, this limit is set at € 500,91 per month.

Overview of Austria's university cities

The most famous universities in Austria are located in Vienna, Innsbruck, Graz, Linz and Salzburg.


With around 2 million inhabitants, Vienna, situated right by the Danube, is home to the largest and oldest university city in the German-speaking regions. The capital's universities and colleges offer a wide range of courses to 200,000 students and are best known for their medical, humanities, psychological and artistic studies. About 25% of the students come from abroad. Numerous coffee houses in the small streets of the old town invite the students to relax after the lecture. Viennese pastry shops and sweets attract both tourists and locals. Vienna's nightlife, art and music scenes offer something for every taste. In summer, you can go swimming in the Danube or in one of the many famous outdoor pools; in winter, you can ice skate in front of the town hall or go skiing or tobogganing in relatively close ski areas. Find out everything about studying at the University of Vienna in our article about studying in Vienna here.


Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, offers an urban lifestyle and impressive natural scenery due to its geographical location in the middle of the Alps. For many, it seems, the mountains are the main reason for studying in Innsbruck. Winter sports and hiking fans are particularly enthusiastic about the offer in Tyrol. The city's distances are short, and you can walk or cycle to all the important parts of the city. Many different courses can be studied at the University of Innsbruck in the areas of humanities, economics, law, medicine, natural sciences, social sciences, theology and technology.


In Salzburg, you can choose between the University of Salzburg and the FH (Fachhochschule) Salzburg, among others. The University of Salzburg is located in the beautiful city center of Salzburg. It's not only Mozart—you can find different cultural and leisure activities all year round, such as the famous “Salzburger Festspiele”. And in just a few minutes you can be in nature by bike or bus. Salzburg is also not far from Munich and other German cities. The University of Salzburg is characterized by a particularly good student-teacher ratio due to a slightly smaller number of students.


There are many different Bachelor's, Diploma, Master's and Doctorate degree programs offered at the Johannes Kepler University Linz. Linz in Upper Austria is particularly well-known for agricultural studies and natural science courses.


Around 55,000 students study in Graz at four universities and two technical colleges. The city is one of the most popular student cities in German-speaking countries. TU Graz, the Technical University Graz, offers bachelor's and master's degree programs, doctoral programs, teacher training programs and continuing education. Medicine and humanities can also be studied in the southern city of Austria.

St. Pölten

Lower Austria's provincial capital is relatively small and has so far acted more as a regional administrative center. But the well-known FH (Fachhochschule) for social work, mental health, digital technologies and media has settled here, and it offers full-time and part-time study courses.


Krems offers five colleges and universities. The picturesque town can be called the educational capital of Lower Austria and stands for a particularly high quality of life. The population of the city is around 25,000 people. Krems is located in a famous Austrian wine region near the Danube. It offers a variety of opportunities for recreation and a wide range of cultural activities.

Useful links:

Study EU

Grants in Austria (in German)

OEAD – Agency for Education and Internationalisation

University of Vienna

Universität Innsbruck

University of Graz

Vienna University of Technology

Study in Austria

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