Course Work

VGSE offers a three year PhD program. In the first year students focus on course work and developing a research project. The second and third year are devoted to research and finalizing the PhD thesis.  In practice, many students stay a fourth year to improve the quality of their Dissertation.

Throughout the program students attend research seminars in their fields (30 ECTS points). Apart from the research seminars, VGSE offers selected field courses (25 ECTS points) and skill courses (5 ECTS points). The exact distribution of course work over the years of study may vary according to specific needs and research profiles.

 Suggested Course Sequence

Field courses Skill courses Research seminars Total
Overall 25 5 30 60
1st year 15 (3x5) 5 10 30
2nd year 5 10 15
3rd year 5 10 15

1st year

The first year at VGSE is dedicated to developing a research project and finding a supervisor. There are two major anchors for first year students:

  • October: Faculty presentations - choosing a mentor

In early October all faculty members of the Department of Economics give short presentations of their current research. This event allows students to tie their own research interests into the Departments research. Students will then choose a mentor who will provide guidance through the first year and helps develop a dissertation project. 

  • June: Public presentation of the dissertation project - choosing a supervisor

In mid June all first year students publicly present their dissertation project. At this point students should have found a supervisor. In many cases the mentor becomes the supervisor of the student. In some cases the students found a different supervisor under the guidance of their mentor.

Research seminars

One of the challenges PhD students face is the transition from doing course work to being an active contributor to the scientific community. Questions that students commonly encounter are:

  • What are interesting research topics?
  • How should I start my own research?
  • How do I know whether this research will be novel enough?

At VGSE, students are intensively supervised while making their first steps towards becoming an independent researcher. VGSE organizes two brown bag seminars (one in microeconomics, and one in  macroeconomics) that run every week in every Semester. Students and faculty members present their preliminary research findings during the seminars. Before and after the seminars there is the possibility to informally interact.

Students observe the research process from beginning to end, contribute to the research process of others, and benefit from the reactions of faculty members and other students to their work. 

The schedule of the current seminars can be found here.

Field Courses

Every year each of the two key areas organizes several field courses, exposing students to the frontiers of research. Field courses are taught by the permanent faculty and internationally well-recognized guest professors. 

The field courses will change from year to year, depending on to the availability of faculty members and guest professors and the research interests of the students. 

  • Current and past guests of VGSE can be found here.

Transferable Skills courses

Students at VGSE also learn how to develop interesting research ideas into publishable papers, and interesting presentations. The Doctoral Center of the University of Vienna has developed a set of courses specifically dedicated to graduate students. Depending on the student's needs, courses will be selected on an individual basis.