Program Requirements

The Doctoral Program in Political Science is accredited both in the United States and Austria.

The Doctoral Program in Political Science is structured around the following stages:

  • Completion of coursework
  • Successful completion of the comprehensive examination
  • Successful defense of the dissertation

The following applies to students enrrolled after 2022. For students enrolled before that, please review the regulations that apply to you.


The number of credits that Doctoral Candidates must earn over the course of their first four academic years is 240 ECTS (120 US credits). These credits must be earned from taught courses (28 ECTS) and non-taught courses called Doctoral Research and Activities (212 ECTS). The minimum number of credits that students must earn in the first academic year is 60 ECTS. These credits include:

16 ECTS from the curriculum of a student’s track

12 ECTS from the methods sequence

All Probationary Doctoral Candidates are required to take the ‘Research Design’ course (4 ECTS), the ‘Prospectus Seminar’ course (4 ECTS) and a methods course of their choice (4 ECTS). 

212 ECTS from Doctoral Research and Activities 

These are mandatory academic and professionalization activities designed to prepare students for the successful completion of the dissertation and for the job market, as well as to foster academic networks, interaction and exchange. 

Comprehensive Examination

At the end of the probationary period doctoral candidates are required to take a Comprehensive Examination. The Comprehensive Examination consists of two components: a defense of a written dissertation prospectus and an annotated bibliography that situates their research project.

The defense of the prospectus takes place in June. Students must pass the Comprehensive Examination to advance to Doctoral Candidacy. 

Doctoral Dissertation

Within six years after their enrollment to the Doctoral Program, doctoral candidates are required to submit a doctoral dissertation. The CEU doctoral dissertation shall not exceed 80,000 words (including tables, graphs and footnotes; excluding bibliography) without prior permission of the Doctoral Committee.

To satisfy the degree requirements, the dissertation must make a significant and original contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the subject and must demonstrate the capacity of the candidate to carry out independent quality research. Doctoral candidates have to defend their dissertation in front of a Dissertation Committee, at a public defense.

Other Duties

During term time, doctoral students must reside in Vienna or the vicinity for the entire duration of the doctoral stipend. They are expected to remain in contact with campus academic life and respond to any communication from the program.

On successfully continuing to Doctoral Candidate status, students' responsibilities will be as follows:

a) ensuring that original data and any other original research results emanating from the doctoral dissertation project are stored properly and made available if necessary;

b) initiating discussions with their supervisor on the type of guidance and comments considered helpful, and agreeing to a schedule of meetings which will ensure regular contact;

c) providing a written report on their work as well as a schedule for completing their dissertation by the end of each academic year, starting from the second year. This report should document the progress of their work and any difficulties that may be hindering the student’s advancement in the program;

d) submitting at least one new or substantially revised chapter of the dissertation to the members of their Supervisory Panel in the Fall semester and during or after the Annual Doctoral Conference each year;

e) publicly presenting their research output on at least two occasions during their candidature. One of these occasions must be the Annual Doctoral Conference, typically scheduled in April;

f) preparing the dissertation for examination according to the schedule agreed upon with the supervisor;

g) gaining teaching experience.