Studying in Vienna

university in Vienna
Updated 2023-07-02 15:46

Vienna is, without a doubt, a city that is worth studying in. It has all the amenities one could wish for as a young student moving to a big city, and it is a very international place where you will quickly meet like-minded people. So, if you're ready to get started, have a look at the different universities in Vienna and the benefits of studying there.

Universities in Vienna

Did you know that the University of Vienna is the oldest university in the German-speaking world and that it was founded in 1365? Nowadays, there are three different types of universities in Vienna you can choose to attend. For more information about the higher education system in Austria, please also check out our article about Studying in Austria.

The most frequented public universities in Vienna are the following: the University of Vienna, the University of Technology (TU Wien), the University of Economics and Business (WU Wien), the Medical University (MedUni Wien) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU Wien).

You will also find the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien), the University of Applied Arts (die Angewandte Wien) and one for Music and Performing Arts (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien) within the public sector. Then, there is also the University of Law (JURIDICUM), a specific University for Veterinary Medicine (VetMedUni Wien) and the Vienna University of Education (PH Wien).

A further institution of the tertiary education sector is the so called "Fachhochschule" – University of Applied Sciences–which you attend for three years and finish with a Bachelor's degree. The different options are FH Campus Wien, Fachhochschule des BFI, Fachhochschule Technikum Wien, and FHWien. The main difference with public universities is that students have a schedule that is similar to the one in school. The courses are more structured and organized and do not require too many administration and organization skills from their students. The degree programs are usually more practice-oriented than university degree programs. Many of them are also offered on a part-time basis in the evenings and at weekends to enable working people to study.

There are also a number of private universities that can be attended in Vienna:

Programs offered by Viennese universities

Since they have introduced the EU regulation of Bologna in all the EU countries, almost every study finishes with a Bachelor's degree and then with an optional Master's degree. The only studies where you still get the Magister title or Doctor afterward are Law, Medicine, and Theology because they kept the old "Diplomstudium" system for those.

Universities in Austria follow the ECTS system (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). It has been adopted in all universities across the EU so they can guarantee a fair assessment for every student.

Usually, you will find three types of courses in Vienna's universities:

VO Vorlesung, which is a lecture where your professor is talking while students are listening. This type is the least interactive course. The AudiMax (Auditorium Maximum), for example, is the largest lecture hall in the main building of the University of Vienna. There is room for several hundred students. Since the pandemic, there are also more online or hybrid lectures, depending on the field of study.

UE Übung states practical training and exercises with fewer students per course and way more interaction.

SE Seminar will take place in a small group of students, mostly including some group work and finishing with an exam and a paper.

Vienna is considered being the most significant university hub amongst German-speaking countries, so it's not surprising that many students from the neighboring states are trying their luck in Vienna. There are many different exchange programs one can choose from. The most popular ones are Erasmus, Joint Study, and Fulbright. The first stop for exchange students is going to be the office of the university they want to attend so they can get all the information they need for a smooth start in Vienna.

The universities in Vienna can accommodate around 150.000 students in total. This might also be because tuition fees are very low in Vienna compared to other European cities. Around 10,400 staff work at 20 faculties and centers, including 7,500 scientists.

Enrolling in Viennese universities

If you are an Austrian resident, the university is free even for you if you pass your exams within a certain time. After this, you will have to pay around 380 € per semester. Third-country nationals pay a contribution of about 730 € per semester.

These groups of people do not have to pay tuition fees during the standard period of study in Vienna:

  • Austrian citizens,
  • EU citizens,
  • persons who, on the basis of an international treaty, are to be granted the same rights of access to the profession as Austrian citizens or
  • regular students who fall under the Ordinance on Groups of Persons, as well as
  • Ordinary students from third countries who have a residence permit OTHER than the one for students.

The application process will be different for several types of universities. The official blog of the University of Vienna created a very helpful article to give you some guidance on how to apply properly. There, you will also find information about tuition fees and scholarships.

If you are still not sure whether studying in Vienna is the right fit for you, take a look at Vienna4U or get advice from one of the organizations like AEGEE Vienna, BEST Vienna or ESTIEM.

Facts and figures about studying in Vienna

The range of studies in Vienna is famous for its diversity. The range of studies at the University of Vienna includes 184 degree programs (bachelor's, master's, diploma and doctoral programs). For example, one can also study linguistic and cultural studies of smaller language groups.

1.9 million people live in Vienna. Of these, more than 10 % are students from 130 nations. The University of Vienna has approximately 80 all-university partnerships and works with 370 ERASMUS partner universities.

Study in Vienna without barriers

The Barrier-Free Team of the University of Vienna advises prospective students, students and lecturers about studying with disabilities.

Digital study in Vienna

Various digital learning platforms are used in teaching at Vienna universities. A central tool is the Moodle learning platform. At the University of Vienna, courses are set up as virtual courses in Moodle, where teachers can upload teaching materials, communicate with students, conduct tests, or provide recordings, among other things.

Student housing in Vienna

There are different housing options in Vienna depending on budget and preferences. In addition, the surrounding area is also well connected to Vienna thanks to the express train “Schnellbahn/S-Bahn”, and some students choose to live in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich).

Most students and international university staff in Vienna opt for these housing options:

  • Shared apartments (so-called “WG” alias “Wohngemeinschaften” in German)
  • Student residences
  • Privat accommodation

Vienna is a very green city, and districts 1-9 are close to the center, whereas districts 10-23 are closer to parks, the Danube or forests. Rental prices in Vienna differ depending on the district. The average price for flats for rent in Vienna in January 2023 was highest in the district of Innere Stadt (1st district) at 21.88 euros per square meter and lowest in the district of Hernals (17th district) at 14.43 euros per square meter, the statistical office Statista Austria reports.

Thanks to the unique housing policy in Vienna, which counteracts isolation and exclusion through subsidies, all Viennese districts are considered safe and accommodate people from different financial backgrounds.

The OEAD student housing website can help you find accommodation in Vienna. OeAD is the Austrian Agency for Education and Internationalisation. Its student housing is a non-profit student residence provider for international and national students.

Good to know:

Whenever you see a Viennese address, the postcode is given in this format: 1010, 1090, 1220. Therefore, the middle two digits indicate which district it is.

Obligation to register in Vienna

Everyone who moves into an apartment in Austria is obliged to register with the competent authority. This can be the municipal office (Gemeindeamt), or the magistrate district office (Magistrat). This registration must be done within three days after moving into the accommodation in Austria. This regulation is called “Meldepflicht”.

To register in person or by mail, you will need the Meldezettel form, which is used by the registration authorities to enter the registration data in the population register. The form can be downloaded, is available at the registration office and at some tobacconists.

You will often need the registration form (“Meldezettel”) for bureaucratic matters and also, for example, to conclude an Internet or mobile phone contract.

Language(s) in Vienna

Vienna is a very international city. The official language is German, which is spoken in shops, restaurants as well as on the street. Especially among the younger generation, many people can also speak English. German in Austria hardly differs in writing from German in Germany. Due to the history of the language, however, one finds many different dialects that are similar to those in southern Germany. In Vienna, "Viennese" is therefore often spoken, although people under 19 usually speak less in dialect or colloquial language.

Many students choose to learn German at the Language Centre of the University of Vienna (Sprachenzentrum Wien). There you can choose between regular and intensive courses (also during the lecture-free period). As an alternative, you can choose courses offered by private language schools if you prefer small groups.

Depending on the degree program you choose, German may be a requirement. Pre-study courses, such as German courses, prepare you for the supplementary examinations prescribed in your admission notice. The VWU is an institution providing university preparation courses for international students. Its role is to prepare students for supplementary examinations. You can find everything about the University Preparation Programme you can find here.

To improve your language skills, you may also look for a language tandem partner who wants to learn your language.

Student insurance in Austria

Students from EU countries are entitled to health insurance in Austria if they have compulsory insurance in their home country. However, a European health insurance card is necessary because it enables direct settlement with the insurance companies.

Students who work (part-time) in Austria

In Austria, 65 percent of all students at universities are employed. Activities that are performed more than marginally (“geringfügig”) are automatically insured. Taxes must also be paid in this case. More than 10 hours of work per week are required for so-called full insurance (“Vollversicherung”).

International students who do not have compulsory insurance from their home country and do not wish to take up employment can take out self-insurance. The amount is currently about 67,00 euros per month. The Austrian insurance fund, the so-called “Österreichische Gesundheitskasse” (ÖGK), is responsible.

Health insurance for students from third countries

For a residence permit, which is required for a period of six months or more, a whole series of documents must be submitted. Among other things, the conclusion of a health insurance policy must be included. A simple travel health insurance policy is sufficient. Once the residence permit has been issued, the application for self-insurance can be submitted to the Austrian health insurance fund ÖGK.

Getting around Vienna

The public transport network in Vienna is considered one of the best in the world. Using the WienMobil app, you can check out all the routes by bus, metro (U-Bahn), express train (S-Bahn) and tram. On weekends, the metro also runs at night. In recent years, bicycle lanes have been extended more and more, which is why many students in Vienna travel by bike. There are many pedestrian zones in the first district, and the city center within the Ringstraße can be easily explored on foot. Students are entitled to a reduced ticket, but the annual ticket can also be worthwhile if you study here for longer. (You pay one euro per day.)

You can get from the airport to the city by taking the S-Bahn, the CAT Express train, or the airport bus.

Good to know:

The boat connection Vienna-Bratislava takes you from one city center to the other in just a bit more than one hour. You can get to Budapest in less than three hours by train and to Prague in about four hours. Within Austria, you can travel well by train or bus, and it can be worth buying tickets in advance.

This will allow you to get to know the surrounding neighboring towns and countries during your study abroad.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.