Austrian universities boast top rankings among educational institutes worldwide. International students make up nearly 15% of the student body in Austrian universities. This means that Austria offers a diverse environment for international students.

Apart from education, Austria has a relatively high living standard. The moderate living expenses are alleviated by perks such as travel discounts, low entrance fees, and sports events! This makes it an ideal spot for prospective international students. Despite the large international student body, only a few aspiring students know the procedure for applying to Austrian universities. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to apply to Austrian Universities.

Can International Students Apply to a University in Austria?

Yes, Austria admits thousands of international students every year. All degree-seeking students should directly apply through their preferred university. Students can access specific guidelines and required documents on the official university websites, such as application forms and document requirements.

Remember to check which medium of instruction you want to enroll in. Most Austrian universities offer English-taught programs, however, the range of study programs available is limited, especially for undergraduate studies, so it is better to search as many schools as possible to have better options.

What are the Entry Requirements to Study in Austria?

Entry requirements differ per nationality. For instance, EU/EAA nationals can enter Austria without a visa but must register with the residence authority within three months of entry. Moreover, you will only need a valid travel document, such as a passport or identity card, to enter and stay in Austria.

The requirements for non-EU/EAA nationals are different. They must apply for a residence permit to study in Austria. This will allow students to stay in the country for more than 6 months.

Steps on How to Apply to Austria Universities

Applying to universities in Austria is a very simple process. This guide walks you through the application procedure step by step:

Step 1. Choose a university and study program

The most important step before tackling the application procedure is picking a program and university based on your interests, career objectives, and qualifications. It’s ideal to check the university ranking, fees, and accommodation expenses as you shortlist your chosen universities.

The medium of instruction is also a crucial aspect to assess because many programs are offered in German. If you are proficient in the local language, then you will have more options in choosing programs and schools.

Step 2. Check the admission requirements

Review the admission criteria and procedure for the universities you have selected. Most Austrian universities, such as the University of Innsbruck, require students to submit a valid copy of their passport, demonstrate proficiency in the German language, and have a valid visa or residence permit.

Make sure to create a checklist of the requirements, and don’t forget to check if any standardized test scores are required for admission. When applying to some Austrian universities, you may need to sit for an entrance exam to prove that you are ready for university-level education.

Step 3. Collect the required documents

Depending on the program, you might also need to submit documents such as transcripts, motivation letters, or portfolios. However, the required documents vary depending on the degree program and institute you’re applying to. Thus, it’s best to check all the necessary admission requirements so you have adequate time to gather and prepare the documents required for application.

Step 4. Fill out the application form

You will find the application form on the university website. The form will require your personal information, educational background, language proficiency, and program preferences. As a prospective applicant, you must also check whether you must pay an application fee. However, some universities, such as the University of Vienna, do not require application fees.

Step 5. Submit your application and supporting documents

Watch out for the application deadline. Make sure to have your documents and application ready before the deadline. You can submit your documents via post, email, or the admission portal of the specific university you are applying to. After submission, look out for the confirmation email from the university.

Step 6. Wait for the admission decision

Wait for the university’s admission decision. Depending on the program and institute you’ve applied to, this may take a few days or even weeks. Most Austrian institutes share the admission acceptance, rejection, or waitlisting via email or post. If accepted, you will receive a letter of admission, a major requirement for your visa application.

Step 7. Apply for a Student Visa or Residence Permit

If you’re an EU/EAA national, you only need a valid travel document to study in Austria. However, for a non-EU/EAA student, you will need a residence permit, which is required to enter Austria for study purposes.

Once you obtain your visa, make necessary arrangements, including class registrations, fee payment, and accommodation arrangements.

General Admission Documents

1. Secondary School Leaving Certificate

Most countries, such as Austria, require students to submit a secondary school certificate. This valid certificate or equivalent qualification grants you admission to universities in your home country. If the document is in your national language, translation and legalization by Austrian authorities may be necessary.

Similarly, master’s students must provide proof of completion of a bachelor’s degree by submitting their transcripts or a copy of their degree diploma, depending on the requirements of the specific institute they are applying to.

2. Proof of Language Proficiency

The medium of instruction in most Austrian universities is German, which means you must provide proof of language proficiency. Even if you’re applying to a program offered in English, you will need to demonstrate proficiency in the language of instruction. This may involve submitting test scores such as TestDaF, DSH, Goethe-Zertifikat, IELTS, and TOEFL.

The CEFR requires a German level of at least A2, but you can also take admission to a University Preparation Programme German course before you begin your degree program.

3. Standardized Test Results

Like other European countries, some Austrian institutes may require results from standardized tests such as TestAS (Test for Academic Studies), the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), or the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). An assessment of mathematics, verbal reasoning, and writing skills will show your readiness for college-level education.

The minimum scores required vary based on your selected university and program. For example, when applying to the University of Vienna for a Master’s in Business Administration, you must clear the extension curricula (ECs) to demonstrate the required knowledge.

4. Proof of Nationality

Provide proof of your nationality by presenting a passport or an identity card. This condition applies even if you are an EU/EAA national. You must ensure that your travel document is valid and will not expire during your stay in Austria. A copy of your passport or identity card is necessary for the visa application, a requirement if you are not an EU/EAA national.

5. University Application Form

Applying to any university in Europe involves submitting a university application form. You will find this on the university website. Make sure to include your personal details, education information, language skills, and program preferences.

You might also have to pay an application fee when submitting the application form, the payment for which is usually online via bank transfer or debit/credit card.

7. Entrance Exam Results

Certain programs require students to clear an entrance exam. The purpose of this is to evaluate prior knowledge of the degree you have chosen. The entrance exam is mostly required for creative programs in Austrian universities. Prospective students might also have to take additional tests based on the type of qualification obtained and the chosen course.

Optional Materials/Documents to Consider

1. Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation from a teacher, professor, or employer who has overseen your academic or professional progress will help you gain admissions. The recommender can give the university insights into your academic or professional achievements and details regarding your personality, goals, and potential. Although it is not always required, the letter can provide a personalized perspective on your strengths, which is not always depicted through academic transcripts or test scores.

2. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A detailed CV or resume can highlight relevant qualifications and work experiences that match the chosen program and university. Submitting a comprehensive CV with details such as education, work experience, skills, interests, and achievements when applying for graduate studies can open several doors. It will also allow you to boast extracurricular activities, volunteer work, hobbies, and skills that make you stand out from other applicants.

3. Portfolio / Work Samples

Creating a portfolio or work sample can enhance your application if you’re applying for a creative degree. You can showcase your creative and professional facets through a well-crafted portfolio demonstrating your talent and abilities. However, it is recommended to be authentic with your quality of work and show innovation through your creations.

4. Statement of Purpose or Personal Essay

Write a statement of purpose or a personal essay that explains your reasons for selecting a certain program and why you have chosen the specific university. The statement can showcase your writing and analytical skills, personal interests, and values that can enhance your overall application. The personal essay could also convey your motivation and career goals. Be sure to check your word count, make sure the essay is not too long or short, and submit a unique, short, and precise essay that will capture the admissions committee.

Key Facts for Applying to Austrian Universities

1. The academic year consists of two semesters

Like many other universities worldwide, Austria follows a two-semester academic year. The winter semester lasts from October to January, while the summer semester begins in March and ends in June. This means that specific programs may not be available during both semesters, making it necessary to check specific deadlines for programs you want to apply to. The programs offered in certain semesters are usually listed on the university website.

2. The language of instruction for most universities is German

You might be surprised to find that most universities offer programs in the German language only. However, some programs are also offered in English or other languages. Depending on the medium of instruction, you will have to provide proof of language proficiency through relevant tests, commonly TestDaF, DSH, Goethe-Zertifikat, IELTS, and TOEFL. The minimum requirements vary based on the program or university you have applied to.

3. Tuition fees are Low or free for most programs

As an EU/EEA/CH student, you can enjoy the perks of paying low or minimal fees. Students with an EU/EAA or Swiss nationality are not charged any tuition fee except for a Students’ Union fee of about 20 euros. On the other hand, non-EU/EAA students pay approximately 726 euros per semester. If you’re applying to a private university, expect higher fees.

4. Austria boasts a low cost of living

The cost of living in Austria is much more affordable than in other European countries. The moderate cost of living makes it essential for students to budget for accommodation expenses, food, transportation, personal expenses, and health. Accommodation expenses are approximately 450 euros while food would cost around 350 euros. It can be estimated that the average living expenses of an international student are approximately 1,200 euros.

5. International students can work

International students can work part-time for up to 20 hours per week while studying in Austria. However, obtaining a valid student visa or residence permit is critical. International students can also apply for a stay-back permit after degree completion to find a job or start a business in Austria. The permit is valid for up to 12 months.


Austrian universities are renowned for their top-tier education standards and low tuition fees! As an international student, you will enjoy an academically nurturing environment and a culturally enriching and adventurous landscape for adventures. So, if you’re thinking of applying as an international student in Austria, now is the right time!


Hopefully, this article has given you valuable tips and insights on how to apply to Austrian universities. If you want to know more about studying abroad, visit our Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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