Higher education in Austria for foreign students: education system and best universities



Higher education in Austria for foreign students: education system and best universities

Academics in Austria attract vast numbers of foreigners every year. The country is known not only for its fashionable resorts and the beauty of the Alps but also for being the most powerful scientific and cultural center of Europe. No wonder students from all over the world flock to Austria, which has produced a number of Nobel laureates.

As well as science, Austria has a medical and music education and many universities with centuries of history and tradition. And what is surprising is the low cost of national and state universities. Children and their parents are thrilled with Austria's world-class university rankings, the standard of living, the safe environment in the country, direct enrollment from school and, above all, the free German language tuition, foreigners are wise to choose Austria as a place to study.

Advantages of studying in Austria:

- European English-language education;

- The relatively simplified system of entry for students;

- The cost of education is lower than in other European countries;

- A high standard of living in the country;

- Internships from University during their studies;

- Opportunity to learn German.

Read more about Austrian citizenship by investment, as well as the benefits, requirements and application procedure here.

Education system

Most courses at Austrian universities are taught in German. In order to enter most universities, your knowledge of German must be at the C1 level. The tests adopted by the universities are posted on the homepage of each university. These are usually ÖSD Zertifikat, Goethe Zertifikat, TestDaF, etc. There is also a study program in English, but it is many times smaller. This is particularly common in Master's and Doctoral programs in business, management, marketing and information technology. The lowest level of English proficiency is the IELTS 6.0. A score of 6.5 or higher is required for some majors. Austrian higher education has complied with the "Bologna Process" for decades. However, in some disciplines, such as medicine, the old Bachelor's and Master's degree system is still in place.

There are 22 public and 16 private universities offering various degree programmes. Since there is no uniform system of entrance exams in Austria, each university presents its own standards. The admission conditions are listed directly on the homepage of each university.

The best places to visit in Austria: the main sights to see and do - find here.

So how do I get into an Austrian university

It is possible to enter after the 11th year of school with a Nachweis. This is a special certificate from the university confirming that the student has the right to study in his/her home country in the same field of study that he/she intends to pursue in Austria. Nachweis is compulsory for both undergraduate and graduate admission.


Studies at the Bachelor's level take place mainly in German. An ÖSD/TestDaF/GOETHE certificate of at least C1 is required. The preparatory language courses at the university can be taken at German A2. Most English-language programs are offered at the Master's level.

Necessary documents:

- A copy of your passport;

- High school/baccalaureate/master's degree;

- Knowledge of German or English (diploma in German/English or language certificates);

- Certificate of Studienplatznachweis (confirmation that the student is eligible to study in a similar field of study at a university in his or her home country);

- Letters of motivation and recommendation;

- Research proposal or project (for doctoral studies).

In addition to the standard documents, some admission examiners require written, and oral examinations and interviews. As of 2019, universities are actively working on introducing admissions, including applied and medical colleges, art colleges, law, chemistry, political science and psychology programmes. If this is the case, the deadline for applications and the schedule of admission tests should be clarified. The deadline for these applications can be up to 6 months before the start of the semester. Details can be found on the homepage of each university and on the German portal Studiversum.

Preparatory programs in Austria

The organization OeAD runs university preparation programmes. They prepare international applicants for the university entrance examination and for studying in German. The courses include:

- Language courses - in German;

- General - in English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, and Geography.

There are also preparatory courses and international foundation programs at the universities themselves:

  1. FH Burgenland;
  2. University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria;
  3. FH Technikum Wien Academy;
  4. Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt;
  5. Paris-Lodron-University Salzburg;
  6. MODUL University Vienna.

Recommended articles

3 min

Work Employment in Austria in 2024: how easy is it to find a job and how much does it pay?

Employment in Austria in 2024: how easy is it to find a job and how much does it pay?

Due to the high standard of living and decent salaries, more and more labor migrants are choosing Austria for permanent residence. Find out more about the labor market, popular vacancies and average salaries in Austria in 2024

24 Jun. 2024

More details