Doctorate in Business and Socioeconomic Sciences

PhD in Business and Socioeconomic Sciences candidates generally need a minimum of four years to complete the program.  All students complete standard foundation courses in theory, methodology, and research design.  Specialized research seminars are customized and based on the interests of the PhD cohort. Preliminary (comprehensive) exams are taken during the 4th semester (end of second year), and candidates graduate following a successful dissertation defense. Typically, PhD students reside in Viena; however, we also provide the option to study remotely with one attendance week at the end of each semester. PhD candidates must complete the following program components during the course of their doctoral program (curriculum): 1) Required Courses; 2) Examinations; 3) Dissertation.

Required Courses

PhD candidates have to complete a number of courses in various modules such as:

  • Theory Building and Methodology:  Courses introducing principles of the philosophy of science, paradigms, theory building and testing, and the development of research designs. 
  • Research Methods:  Courses focusing on the practical aspects of  quantitative and qualitative techniques suitable for business and social science research problems.  Topics include data mining, forecasting, game theory, probability, qualitative methods, etc.
  • Research Seminars:  Customized courses are offered based on the program's themes, with emphasis on state-of-the-art problems and approaches. Combinations of research seminars offered in more than one area of specialization are encouraged.
  • Research Communication and Collaboration:  Usually taken in the latter half of the program, these courses allow candidates to exchange with one another and gather insight about the responsibilities and the work of a scholar. Both seminar and practical training opportunities are offered.  Topics include scientific writing, pedagogical and didactical training, research colloquium, teaching experience, etc..


PhD candidates must complete the following examinations:

  • The Preliminary Exam:  The Prelim Exam, often know as a comprehensive examination, covers content from foundation coursework (theory building, research design, etc.) and research seminars.
    Candidates must have already completed PhD-level coursework totaling 40 ECTS credits in order to sit the exam.
  • Dissertation Proposal:  Upon submission of a research proposal, the Dean of the PhD program appoints members of the candidates PhD committee consisting of the supervisor, at least one external reviewer, and two additional faculty members.  The dissertation can either be a single-authored monograph or a compilation of three single-authored (journal style) papers linked as part of a focused research area (cumulative dissertation).
  • Dissertation Defense:  Following the completion and submission of the dissertation and upon the satisfactory approval of the thesis supervisor,  the candidate defends his or her dissertation in an oral presentation/examination.


Candidates must successfully complete a dissertation that demonstrates their ability to identify a significant research question or problem and apply appropriate research techniques to answer the research question. The dissertation must be an original and independent contribution of knowledge. Dissertations are supervised by a PhD supervisor who usually is an internal faculty member. However, an external faculty with "habilitation" or an equivalent qualification may be appointed supervisor by the Dean.  The thesis can take the form of a single-authored monograph or be a compilation of three single-authored (journal article length) manuscripts linked as part of a focused research area (cumulative dissertation).