The Austrian school system used to not have undergraduates. So when graduated from a high school, you just got in a Master's program for about 2 years and then PhD program for about 4 years. However, we called it "Master" and "PhD". So it means that "it is a PhD degree in Austria", but by American standards, it is actually "a Master's degree". Should I still list as "PhD" degree on my CV?

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    However, we named as "master" and "PhD". – I fail to see the contrast here. I think you wanted to name it something else. Please edit your question to clarify. Also, please state in which country you want to use that CV.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 5:29
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    Up to my knowledge, the old Austrian Master programmes were typically 4-5 years and not 2 years.
    – Christian
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 8:45
  • Christian is correct. A typical master in Austria always had the same length as a bachelor and master combined in most other countries (compared to the UK even longer), you just did not get a BSc in the middle. A phd in Austria, even in the fields where the Bachelor/Master/Phd system is not used, takes in total a minimum of 8 years, as in the US probably.
    – Noldig
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 11:16
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    You're incorrect. The thing you did after school entitles you to use the title "Magister", not "Master". "Master" is what you get now, MA or MSc, after a Bachelor's. Analogously, you weren't awarded a PhD, you were awarded a Doktor. Austrian degrees PhD and Master are exactly the same as elsewhere, Dr. and Mag. are slightly different.
    – sgf
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 12:14
  • @sgf "Austrian degrees PhD and Master are exactly the same as elsewhere, " no they aren't. If you compare it to the US then the Master is quite similar (but not the same) but their PhD is very different from ours. But our Dr. is equivalent to the (bologna) PhD and the Mag/DI is equivalent to a (bologna) masters degree.
    – user64845
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


I would argue the opposite way. An Austrian PhD definitely qualifies as PhD internationally. The former master curricula were typically composed of two parts that resemble the undergrad and graduate master studies. So in essence, in order to get an Austrian PhD, you need to pass undergraduate, graduate master and a PhD curriculum, while in American standards, you just need an undergrad + a PhD program. I don't see, why this should be worth less. Besides, the PhD curriculum is distinct from the others in both cases since it typically involves research, publications and conference or workshop presentations. So a PhD degree in one country also matches a PhD degree in another just by the competence you gained in addition to exams.

I don't have the exact comparison in terms of credit/effort or something like that. Maybe someone else can clarify.

  • I tend to agree, however there used to be a "Doktoratsstudium" that did not require a previous "Magister " (MA equivalent), leading to a subtle distinction between Dr. and Mag. Dr., where it is sometimes assumed that the Mag. Dr. is equivalent to a PhD and the Dr. might be more like a MA with bells and whistles. Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 9:39
  • really? Isn't that only the case for medicine?
    – Noldig
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 11:17
  • I may be wrong here, but I was of the opinion that even in medicine, you needed the M.D. (Dr. med. in Austria), which carries the name "doctor" but is in fact a master's degree. The PhD studies still requires a complete M.D. degree before, so there should be no difference to other studies. But I'm not the expert in this field.
    – engineer
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 12:42
  • Other than that, I'm not aware of any PhD program, which you could enter without a master's degree. I could imagine exceptions for arts related, but this is pure speculation. Any other - better - experts out there?
    – engineer
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 12:43
  • I agree with engineer, the Dr.med is basically a Masters, and I think you can do a phd in a more research related area afterwards
    – Noldig
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 14:15

Before Bachelor and master was introduced at Austrian universities, the first degree a student could get was a Magister- or Diplomgrad (master- or diploma-degree). The titles broadly fall in three categories:

  • Magister/Magistra is awarded for studies in natural sciences (Mag.rer.nat), pharmaceutics (Mag.pharm.), law (Mag.iur.), theology (Mag.theol.) and so on. These studies typically last 8 to 10 semesters.

  • Diplom-Ingenieur/Diplom-Ingenieurin (Dipl.-Ing.) is the degree for technical sciences. These studies typically last 10 semesters.

  • Doktor der Heilkunde (Dr.med.univ.) is actually the master degree for a medical doctor. This one has a strange naming, because it is not a doctors degree. Confusingly, a veterinarian finishes with Mag.med.vet. Medicine typically has to be studied for 12 semesters.

Although the titles have different names depending on the type of university and the type of studies, these are all considered the second highest degrees in Austria. The English translation would be---depending on the studies---one of master of art (MA), master of law (LLM), master of science (Msc), medical doctor (MD) and so on.

Having one of the degrees above is usually a requirement for starting PhD studies. PhD studies end with a doctor degree (Doktor of something). So there is Dr.rer.nat., Dr.iur., Dr.theol., Dr.techn. (following a Dipl.-Ing.), Dr.med.vet., and Dr.med.univ. et scient.med. (this one is the true doctor degree in medicine). Those are commonly translated as PhD.

When the bachelor-master-system was introduced at my university, they would simply split the studies into two parts. After 6 semester, one would get the bachelor degree and after 4 more semesters they would get the Magister/Diplom (master). Having only a bachelor is not enough for starting a PhD.

There is another type of university in Austria called Fachhochschule (Universities of Applied Science). Their studies end with a Mag.(FH) or Dipl.-Ing.(FH) after 8 semesters. These universities are not allowed to offer PhD studies. However, having such a degree allows to start a PhD at a 'regular' university but one has to attend additional courses (often for 2 semesters).

The Austrian Ministry of Education has published the degrees and their international equivalent (pdf).

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