Doctoral Program in the Humanities

Overview about important steps and milestones of your doctoral studies after admission and how the Doctoral School of Historical and Cultural Studies supports you in this process.

1. Explorative phase of the dissertation (months 1–12)

Your goals

  • Situating your project within the research landscape
  • Sharpening the innovative character of your project
  • Identifying and screening the available sources
  • Deciding on the theoretical approach and methods

Our offering

  • Active support with regular feedback
  • Stimulation through participation in the colloquium, through informal exchange with other fellows and members of the faculty, and through presentation of your project drafts in internal discussion sessions as well as to (external) experts
  • Financial support for study trips to archives, assistance in the selection of archives and facilitation of access to contact persons
  • Support by way of subject-specific mentoring and transdisciplinary exchange 

2. Presentation of the revised exposé to the Doctoral Advisory Board (open to the faculty public)

According to the Statutes, the topic of the doctoral thesis has to be approved by the Director of the Doctoral Study Programme within the first year. The approval is based on the research proposal and its public presentation. The public presentation serves a twofold purpose. Firstly, new doctoral candidates and their research topics are introduced to the faculty. Secondly, the presentation is supposed to offer all attendants a platform for exchange and feedback.

The public presentation is chaired by the Director of the Doctoral Study Programme and attended by members of the doctoral advisory board of your faculty. They will provide feedback to the research projects and evaluate whether the projects meets the scientific standards and if they can be realized successfully in a reasonable time frame.

Please note that the public presentation of the doctoral thesis project is the precondition for the approval of the topic. If your presentation was successful, your topic and the supervisor(s) usually get approved by the Director of the Doctoral Study Programme right after the presentation. If your topic is not approved you have the possibility to recall your application, adapt your research proposal and reapply for the approval of your topic.

To register for a public presentation contact the StudyServiceCenter. They provide detailed information about the procedure and dates of the public presentation. 

3. Doctoral thesis agreement

Doctoral candidate, supervisor/s and the university sign an agreement comprising the following points:

  • all participants' rights and obligations,
  • detailed description of the doctoral thesis project,
  • time schedule and specification of financial aspects,
  • extent of supervision (frequency of feedback meetings),
  • requirements that have to be fulfilled.

The doctoral thesis agreement is concluded after a positive presentation at the faculty. The progress of the doctoral thesis project is documented in annual progress reports.

Besides writing their thesis doctoral candidates have to earn study credits (e.g. through seminars, lectures etc.). The amount of credits which have to be earned are defined by the respective curricula. The doctoral candidate and the supervisor specify within the doctoral thesis agreement how these credits will be achieved. Doctoral candidates are also encouraged to take part in courses teaching transferable skills as well as obtaining other scientific qualifications (e.g. through presentations at conferences). 
Courses should be chosen as to best suit a doctoral candidate's research project and his/her intended professional career.

For more information, templates and form see

4. Production phase (months 13–36)

Your goals

  • Further development and sharpening of the argumentation
  • Further research
  • Further development of theoretical and methodological tools
  • Networking within the research community
  • Publication of first results in peer-reviewed journals
  • Acquisition of additional skills to increase career opportunities 
  • Teaching experience in the BA program

Our offering

  • Close exchange with supervisors and peers
  • Discussion of (parts of) the dissertation in colloquia and retreats
  • Financial support for research
  • Support for the organization of workshops and the invitation of external experts
  • Financial support for active participation in conferences
  • Financial support for native-language expert editing
  • Mentoring and courses offered by the Center for Doctoral Studies
  • Arrangement of teaching assignments (very limited contingents)

5. Submission of the dissertation, review, and defense

To complete your dissertation project you have to hand in your thesis at the respective StudyServiceCenter. This has to be done in paper and electronically. Formal requirements have to be respected. Please take a look at this information sheet.

The thesis is presented to two reviewers. Together with his/her supervisor the doctoral candidate can suggest three experts as reviewers. Please hand in a CV and a publication list of all suggested external reviewers. The appointment of the reviewers however will be done by the Studienpräses. Please note that only in special cases the supervisor can be appointed as reviewer. If this occurs, then the second reviewer has to be external.

Reviewers should not be from the University of Vienna. On the contrary, it is recommended to propose external reviewers. There is a possibility of getting travel costs of external reviewers refunded. Detailed information can be found on the information sheet of the Studienpräses.  

The reviewers have a maximum of 4 months after the written submission of the thesis to review the thesis and write their report. Only if both reviewers submit a positive report on the thesis, the doctoral candidate can register for the public defense. If a reviewer assesses the thesis negatively then the thesis is handed to a further reviewer. If he/she also assesses the thesis negatively then the overall result is negative and the thesis has to be revised before it can be handed in again. 

For more information, templates and forms see