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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Programmes outside the bachelor and master structure


7.Higher education

7.4Programmes outside the bachelor and master structure

Last update: 3 February 2024


Diploma Programmes (Diplomstudien)

In addition to bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes, diploma programmes are provided by public and private HEIs. Diploma programmes take 8-10 semesters and finish with an academic degree such as Magister/Magistra (i.e. Master) or Diplom-Ingenieur/in, including a suffix as laid down in the curriculum. In the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) the diploma programmes correspond to Level 7.

Since the 2009 University Law Amendment Act (Universitätsrechts-Änderungsgesetz 2009) entered into force, it has no longer been permitted to establish new diploma programmes. Since October 2012 it has been admissible to provide teacher training programmes as well as the studies of human medicine and dental medicine as bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. Many universities have already converted their teacher training programmes from the previous diploma programmes to the two-tier Bologna study architecture. 

Branches of study

Diploma programmes are offered in the following groups of studies:

  • arts
  • economic sciences
  • law
  • medicine and health sciences
  • theology

Generally, every degree programme belongs to one of the study groups, which determines the academic degree. Students can also follow an individual study programme (i.e. a combination of examination subjects from different study programmes) if it is approved by the university.

Private HEIs provide diploma programmes only in the fields of human medicine and catholic theology. 

Admission requirements

The following are required for admission:

  • the general university entrance qualification,
  • at public universities: the specific university entrance qualification for the chosen study programme,
  • proof of artistic skills for artistic programmes,
  • proof of physical skills for teacher training programmes in physical education and for the degree programmes in sports sciences.

As a matter of principle, compliance with the general university entrance qualification for bachelor’s degree programmes is provided by the secondary school-leaving examination. For medical studies and psychology, applicants must pass an admission test.

Admission to diploma degree programmes in the field of arts is based on aptitude ascertained by admission examinations, the secondary school-leaving examination is required for only a few art studies. A minimum age of 17 years is required for enrolling, in exceptional cases the minimum age may be 15 years (when studying an instrument).

Examinations taken in other studies or at other Austrian or foreign post-secondary educational institutions, a training college for educational professions, etc., where admission requires the general university entrance qualification, or examinations taken at the end of a university-level course, must be recognised by nostrification. Examinations taken for a subject at an Austrian university or a university in the European Union/European Economic Area must be recognised as equivalent to examinations for the same subject in the respective programme of any other university if the ECTS credits are the same or differ just slightly.

The implementation of an introductory and orientation period in 2011/12 refers to programmes that are not subject to a specific admission regulation. Thus, universities organise the introductory and orientation period based on the needs of various subjects within the statutory framework. The introductory and orientation period takes one semester, requiring 4-30 ECTS (usually two exams). In regard to the examinations, only one resit is possible. Students must successfully complete the introductory and orientation period in order to continue the study programme. Since 2012/13, admission periods have also been introduced, i.e. the rector’s office at each university determines the admission period for each semester. For the winter semester, such periods must last at least 8 weeks for a bachelor’s degree and diploma programmes and end on the 5th September, for the summer semester they must last at least four weeks and end on the 5th February. 


A curriculum must be announced for each degree programme that is offered. It governs the qualification profile, the structure of the programme as well as the subjects and courses required for examinations and other achievements (defined in terms of ECTS credits) and the way in which examinations must be taken. The total workload of diploma programmes is 240-360 ECTS credits.

The examination regulations must be determined by the responsible collegial body. This includes, in particular, regulations concerning the method and purpose of examinations and the way in which they are organised. For completion, a diploma thesis and a diploma examination are required. 

Progression of students

There are several bilateral/multilateral agreements on the recognition of examinations. As a general rule, students may resit examinations three times. The third resit must be taken under supervision of an examination board. Students failing to pass the last admissible repeat examination may be excluded from the study course at the university where they failed. They may resume or restart this course at any other Austrian university; they may also switch to another study programme at the same university. Previously passed exams may be credited to the new study course. 


After completion of all requirements in the curriculum, the respective academic degree is awarded by way of a written notification (at the latest within one month after completion). The notification must indicate, in particular, the study programme passed, the academic degree and the legal basis. The following diploma degrees are awarded: 

At public universities

  • Master of Engineering (Diplom Ingenieur / Diplom Ingenieurin): Dipl.-Ing. or DI
  • Master of Veterinary Medicine (Diplom-Tierarzt / Diplom-Tierärztin): Mag. med. vet.
  • Doctor of General Medicine (Doktor / Doktorin der gesamten Heilkunde): Dr. med. univ.
  • Doctor of Medicine (Doktor / Doktorin der Medizin): Dr. med. univ.
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine (Doktor / Doktorin der Zahnheilkunde): Dr. med. dent.
  • European Master of Arts: A
  • Master of Arts (Magister / Magistra der Künste): Mag. art.
  • Master of Natural Sciences (Magister / Magistra der Naturwissenschaften): Mag. rer. nat.
  • Master of Pharmacy (Magister / Magistra der Pharmazie): Mag. pharm.
  • Master of Philosophy (Magister / Magistra der Philosophie): Mag. phil.
  • Master of Law (Magister / Magistra der Rechtswissenschaften): Mag. iur.
  • Master of Social and Economic Sciences (Magister / Magistra der Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften): Mag. rer. soc. oec.
  • Master of Theology (Magister / Magistra der Theologie): Mag. theol.</b>
  • Master of Industrial Design (Magister / Magistra des Industrial Design): Mag. des. ind.
  • Master of Law in Business (Magister / Magistra des Rechts der Wirtschaft): Mag. iur. rer. oec. 


At private HEIs

  • Master of Engineering in Biomedical Informatics (Diplomingenieur/in der Biomedizinischen Informatik): Dipl.-Ing.
  • Master of Engineering (Diplom-Ingenieur): Dipl.-Ing.
  • Doctor of General Medicine (Doktor / Doktorin der gesamten Heilkunde): Dr. med. univ.
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine (Doktor / Doktorin der Zahnheilkunde): Dr. med. dent.
  • Master of Health Sciences (Magister / Magistra der Gesundheitswissenschaften): Mag. sc. hum.
  • Master of Psychology (Magister / Magistra der Psychologie): Mag. Psych.
  • Master of Psychotherapy (Magister / Magistra der Psychotherapiewissenschaft): Mag. pth.
  • Master of Religious Education (Magister / Magistra der Religionspädagogik): Mag. rel. paed.
  • Master of Theology (Magister / Magistra der Theologie): Mag. theol.

If a degree programme is completed within a joint degree programme, the academic degree can be awarded together with the partner institution.

For the purpose of supporting the graduates’ international mobility, students are entitled to be issued a Diploma Supplement pursuant to Article IX.3 of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, in connection with the official nostrification of the academic degree.

If an Austrian academic degree is urgently needed for a professional activity (i.e. the activity belongs to an area with statutory regulations and it does not comply with EU law), holders may apply to an institution with subject-matter competence for nostrification of their foreign academic degree. In a few exceptional cases there are bilateral agreements that allow equivalency to be established by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research

Continuing Education Courses at Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences and University Colleges of Teacher Education

Universitiesuniversities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education also provide continuing education courses, offering (post-graduate) further education.

Those continuing education courses are particularly for graduates as well as for other target groups. The courses are highly diverse and almost exclusively designed for working people.

Most of the university continuing education courses at public universities are certificate university programmes for further education (Universitätslehrgänge). Often, internationally common master’s degrees for certificate university programmes are provided, on the condition that the curricula, admission requirements and scope are adequate. According to the Universities Act 2002, the designation Akademische … /Akademischer … with an addition specifying the contents of the respective further education course may be conferred to the graduates of further education courses. The workload is at least 60 ECTS credits.

One public university, the University for Continuing Education Krems, focuses on continuing education courses in the form of certificate university programmes for further education.

Universities of applied sciences offer certificate programmes for further education in the fields for which they are accredited.

Also private higher education institutions (HEIs) provide certificate university programmes for further education. These programmes have to be accredited by AQ Austria.

In addition to certificate university programmes for further education, HEIs offer short courses (e.g. seminars, workshops, lectures, classes), summer schools, summer academies, company programmes, etc.

Students of continuing education courses have to pay course fees.

In October 2021 a major reform on higher education continuing education courses came into force. The aims of this reform are mainly the harmonization of legal requirements for higher education continuing education courses, broadening the scope of courses offered and making higher education more accessible. The following new elements are provided:

  • Certificate university programmes for further education (Universitätslehrgänge oder Hochschullehrgänge) can be offered as bachelor or master’s programmes;
  • Master’s programmes for further education are focused on graduates;
  • Harmonization of admission requirements; 
  • Enhancement of transition between continuing education courses and degree programmes (ordentliche Studien);
  • Introducing an alternative admission to higher education: the new “Bachelor Professional” is open to students with vocational qualification or respective professional experience.
  • Determination of academic degrees for certificate university programmes: “Bachelor of Arts (Continuing Education)”, “Bachelor of Science (Continuing Education)”, Bachelor Professional”, “Master of Arts (Continuing Education)”, “Master of Science (Continuing Education)”, “Master Professional”, “Master of Business Administration”, “Executive Master of Business Administration” and “Master of Laws”.
  • Further development of internal and external quality assurance procedures

With this reform all certificate university courses ending up with a bachelor or master’s degree are integrated into the Bologna structure. In a transition period until the end of September 2023 the HEIs are still allowed to offer certificate (university) programmes in line with the legal situation before the reform.