Faculty of Psychotherapy Science
Duration / ECTS - Credits
6 semesters / 180 ECTS
Academic Degree
Doktorin/Doktor der Psychotherapiewissenschaft (Dr. scient. pth.)
Qualification Level
ISCED–2011: Level 8 and EQR/NQR: Level 8
Information on the Curriculum*
Mode of Study
Language of Instruction
Location of Implementation

No new students are admitted to the doctoral programme in Psychotherapy Science in the academic year 2023/24.

The Doctoral Programme in Psychotherapy Science is committed to methodological and research methodological pluralism. Empirical and hermeneutic papers – also in combination – as well as theoretical and historical papers can be written, including critical examination of existing research directions or schools. The duration of the programme is 6 semesters. The academic degree Doktorin / Doktor der Psychotherapiewissenschaft (Dr. scient. pth.) is awarded.

Admission Requirements

Prerequisite for admission to the doctoral studies

  • Very good English skills: we strongly recommend every candidate to pass an internationally recognised English language exam (TOEFL, IELTS, CAE or CPE test), and submit a proof of English language competency with the application,
  • a Bachelor’s degree programme with 180 ECTS credits AND a Master’s degree programme with 120 ECTS credits (300 ECTS credits in total), for which a completed Bachelor’s degree programme is a prerequisite.
    International diplomas: Applicants of all nationalities are invited to apply to SFU. Nevertheless, applicants from countries outside EEA or EU might have a little more (paper)work when applying to our Doctoral programme. Therefore, the Doctoral Office strongly encourages every prospect student to get certified English translations of their diplomas and certificates.

Selection procedure for admission
Applicants for the doctoral programme submit their documents (academic degrees, proof of psychotherapy training or psychotherapeutic knowledge, curriculum vitae, publications if applicable, draft of the dissertation project) to the doctoral committee. The committee decides on the selection of applicants according to formal and content-related criteria.

These include:

  • the verification of previous studies (Diploma, Magister, or B.A. plus M.A. with a total of 300 ECTS credits),
  • Any previous academic publications,
  • Psychotherapy training or previous psychotherapeutic experience (e.g. propaedeutic certificate/ Propädeutikum) or psychotherapeutic self-experience,
  • The quality of the written presentation of the dissertation project,
  • The closeness of the dissertation to the research focus of the Faculty of Psychotherapy Science or the supervisor in question.

Furthermore, the doctoral committee decides on admission interviews with applicants and on the recognition of achievements in another doctoral programme completed outside the SFU.

Proof of psychotherapeutic self-experience
Applicants who have not completed a psychotherapy training must provide proof of 60 hours of psychotherapeutic self-experience with a registered psychotherapist as a proof of a holistic understanding of how psychotherapy works. Out of these 60 hours, at least 30 hours must be individual self-awareness, the remaining 30 hours may be group self-awareness. However, all 60 hours may also be completed as individual self-awareness.

Recommendations regarding the choice of dissertation topic
If the doctoral studies and method-specific training begin at the same time, it is recommended not to choose a dissertation topic that requires practical knowledge of the method.

Admission requirement for full studies
We expressly point out that we only accept full studies as admission requirements, i.e. conventional Diploma or Magister studies with a minimum duration of eight semesters, or a B.A. plus M.A. with a total of at least ten semesters study duration and a total of 300 ECTS credits. Exceptions to this are not possible; in particular, we do not accept Master’s degree programmes with so-called B.A. equivalents, i.e. training from the non-university or non-faculty sector which has been credited by the institution awarding the Master’s title as a substitute for a missing B.A. degree.

This also applies to M.Sc. degrees from Austrian Danube University Krems, as can be seen from the following letter: “Due to the current legal situation (and in accordance with a decision by the Austrian Constitutional Court), the completion of university courses – and such are the studies offered by the University of Continuing Education Krems – does not entitle the holder to doctoral studies according to the Universities Act 2002″. (Dr. Erwin Neumeister, Head of the Department for University Law, Federal Ministry of Science and Research).

FAQs Application & Admission

Admission Procedure

No new students will be admitted to the doctoral programme in Psychotherapy Science in the academic year 2023/24.

As a first step, please register on our Online Application Platform – SFU
Important: If you are already studying / have studied at SFU, please contact the Studies Service Center before creating a new account in the online application.

After registration, an access code will be sent to the e-mail address you provided. Please also check your SPAM folder. Afterwards, you can log in at any time, make changes to your data or upload additional documents.

Step 1: Please select the desired field of study.
Step 2: Fill out the forms and upload the required documents (Please note that we cannot accept hand-written documents)
Step 3: Check the data and click on “Send application”.
Step 4: In case of a positive review, a personal interview will be scheduled. If the applicant resides in Austria, the interview will take place at Sigmund Freud University Vienna. Applicants from other countries will be interviewed by phone or Skype.
Step 5: Within a few weeks after the application, we will inform you whether you are admitted to study at SFU.
Step 6: Once a student accepts the admission (signs the contract), he/she will receive additional information from the Doctoral Office.

Visa and residence permits: whether you need an entry visa and/or a residence permit, depends on your citizenship.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Ms. Ulrike Fenz at ulrike.fenz@sfu.ac.at

Course Structure, incl. Curriculum

The doctoral programme in psychotherapy science at Sigmund Freud University Vienna can only be started at the beginning of the winter and summer semester. The study programme serves to proof the ability of carrying out independent scientific work. The doctoral programme thus aims to contribute to scientific progress in the new discipline of Psychotherapy Science. This also includes the promotion of young scientists as well as the research competence of persons from psychotherapeutic practice.

Please note the following: the doctoral degree does not entitle the holder to practise psychotherapy.

Target group
The target group are graduates

  • of the Master’s degree programme in psychotherapy science at SFU or
  • of other relevant fields of study at diploma, Magister or Master’s level.

Focal points of the programme
The broad understanding of Psychotherapy Science represented in the doctoral programme enables empirical, theoretical, hermeneutic as well as historical and future-related work, whereby interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary references to other disciplines, e.g. psychology, medicine, sociology, philosophy, education, history, ethnology, linguistics and literary studies can also be established.

Duration and scope
The doctoral programme comprises six semesters including the time required for writing the dissertation. However, it can be extended if a doctoral project cannot be completed during this time. The costs for the doctoral programme may increase as a result.

Within the framework of the doctoral programme, participation in courses over a period of six semesters is required, with one week per semester (Mondays to Saturdays, from 10:00 to 19:00).

Graduates of the doctoral programme are awarded the academic degree “Doktorin / Doktor der Psychotherapiewissenschaft” – Latin “Doctor scientiae psychotherapiae” – abbreviated to “Dr. scient. pth.” 
Graduation Psychotherapy Science

Curriculum – Doctoral Programme.pdf (valid as of WS 2020/21)
Curriculum – Doctoral Programme.pdf (valid from WS 2010/11 until SS 2020)

Qualification Profile and Skills

Graduates of the doctoral programme in psychotherapy science are very familiar with the diverse theoretical discourse of the discipline. They can plausibly present their own theoretical positions and participate in the development of theory, both within psychotherapy science and in interdisciplinary cooperation projects. They are also familiar with the practical forms of psychotherapy as well as the application areas of the modified psychotherapeutic concepts in non-therapeutic (educational, psychosocial, health professional, economic …) fields of action. Graduates master the research methods commonly used in psychotherapy science and are able to critically discuss, analyse and further develop them. Through the production and publication of an original dissertation that stands up to national and international peer review, they make an innovative contribution to research. They can independently design, conduct and evaluate substantial research projects according to the rules of scientific integrity. Their research results are of proven quality so that they are publishable in academic books, anthologies and journals. They are qualified to reflect on these processes of producing knowledge also in terms of scientific theory. They have an overview of the relevant literature, recognise forward-looking scientific questions both in basic research and in practice-oriented research and independently develop scientifically sound answers. Graduates are able to advance the diverse contributions of psychotherapy science to the further development of modern knowledge-based societies in both academic and non-academic settings.
Graduates of the doctoral programme in psychotherapy science are qualified to organise scientific forums, to discuss findings from their areas of specialisation with colleagues, students and experts and to communicate these findings to both academic audiences and interested laypersons in a didactically appealing form.
The following knowledge and skills are of central importance: relevant scientific knowledge, competences in research methodology combined with reflection on scientific theory, communicative competences, the ability to work in a team, leadership competences, didactic competences, the ability to reflect on oneself and one’s own practice and to professionalise oneself.

Occupational Profiles and Career Opportunities

The doctoral programme in psychotherapy science primarily serves to qualify scientists with research skills. In this sense, career opportunities are open to graduates above all in those professional fields where the scientifically sound examination of psychotherapy science problems at the level of the international professional standard is in the foreground. This applies above all to

  • (subject-related) teaching and research in universities and colleges,
  • scientific participation in non-university research institutes,
  • senior positions in training and further education as well as specialist counselling and organisational development in psychotherapeutic, health and socio-professional, pedagogical, economic and other institutions
  • as well as for management functions in the above-mentioned professional fields.

The acquired key qualifications qualify graduates to adapt their diverse competences to changing processes in the relevant working field on the one hand, and on the other hand to help shape these processes in a forward-looking and planning manner.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees (as of winter semester 2021/22)

The tuition fee for the Doctoral Programme amounts to € 4.850,- per semester
Non-refundable, one-time admission fee: € 500,-
For graduates of SFU: € 4.100,- per semester

Contact Finance & Controlling
Mail: ptw-accounting@sfu.ac.at
Phone: +43 1 798 40 98 304
Office and telephone hours: Mo-Thur: 10 am  – 3 pm / Fr: 10 am – 3 pm, by telephone only 
Address: Freudplatz 1, 3rd floor, room 3002

Tax deductions 
In line with the Austrian income tax law, students may deduct the total expenses of their study courses from their taxes if the degree programmes are rated as professional reorientation (Umschulungsmaßnahme) or continuing education (Weiterbildungsmaßnahme).
Federal Ministry of Finance (information in German)

Scholarships and Financing

Following the applicable criteria, Sigmund Freud University awards scholarships and grants every year.

Dates and Deadlines

Seminar weeks 2023

SS 2023: 17.04. – 22.04.2023
WS 2023/24: 16.10. – 21.10.2023

Seminar weeks 2024

SS 2024: 13.05. – 18.05.2024
WS 2024/25: 14.10. – 19.10.2024


The English Doctoral Programme in Psychotherapy Science was accredited by the Austrian Accreditation Council in 2007. All SFU Accreditation Reports are available in German.


Head of the Doctoral Programme:

Univ.Prof. PD mult. Dr. Dr. Human-Friedrich Unterrainer

Co-Head of the Doctoral Programme:

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Alfred Uhl

Admission: Enrollment interviews

Mag. Emma McNally, MSc.

Contact Studies Service Centre:

Ms. Ulrike Fenz
E-mail: ulrike.fenz@sfu.ac.at
Tel: +43 1 798 40 98 451
Room 4004 / 4th floor at Freudplatz 1, Vienna

Office Hours
Monday: 9am-1:30pm
Tuesday, Thursday: 9am-3pm
Friday: 9am-1:30pm

Additional information