Doctoral Programme – Psychotherapy Science

Faculty of Psychotherapy Science
Duration / ECTS - Credits
6 semesters / 180 ECTS
Academic Degree
Dr.scient.pth. (Ph.D.)
Information on the Curriculum*
Language of Instruction
German, English
Location of Implementation

Sigmund Freud University is located in Vienna, in the heart of Europe, and the cradle of psychotherapy. The SFU English doctoral programme guides its international students in the acquisition and development of scientific skills in the field of psychotherapy.

It aims at bridging clinical practice with theoretical and empirical investigation, in order to form a holistic understanding of how psychotherapy works. Following pluralistic stands, it is open to several methods of inquiry (theoretical, qualitative and quantitative) and of clinical practice (psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioural therapy, humanistic approaches etc.). Studying at the Doctoral Programme of Sigmund Freud University has many advantages:

  • intensive personal supervision
  • individual consultancy for every student
  • specific and manifold project development
  • contact with students from different countries
  • flexible arrangements


‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ (Margaret Mead)

Our objective is to enhance capacities and contribute to the personal success of our international students – and through them to a larger global community – by providing excellent learning opportunities and pioneering research in the field of psychotherapy science.

Title and accreditation

The English PhD programme is a six semester (three year) programme. Graduates are awarded a Doctor of Psychotherapy Science (Dr.scient.pth.) which, according to international Postgraduate Programme standards, is equivalent to a PhD degree. The Sigmund Freud University is accredited by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research.

Facts and figures | The firsts

  • SFU is the first university worldwide which primarily focuses on a psychotherapy science education.
  • The SFU’s English PhD programme is also the first doctoral programme of its kind, providing academic training to practitioners of psychotherapy.
  • Is located in Vienna, which many call the cradle of psychotherapy.

Diversity and pluralism in the English PhD programme

The English PhD Programme fosters diversity. We enrol psychologists, psychiatrists and/or psychotherapists with the most disparate clinical orientation (e.g. psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioural therapy, humanistic approaches etc.).  Furthermore, our candidates come from several related disciplines, such as cultural anthropology, sociology, history, economics or business, as their presence and meaningful contribution broadens the perspectives of the community, and contributes to a more thorough understanding of psychotherapy.

We have a pluralistic stance toward both the methods of scientific investigation and clinical practice. We in fact believe that theoretical as well as quantitative, qualitative, or mixed approaches are legitimate and useful in order to investigate what psychotherapy is and how it works, depending on the perspective, background, interests and so on of the researcher. Moreover, we do believe that each single psychotherapeutic orientation (psychoanalysis, CBT, etc.) is legitimate and may be useful depending on the characteristics of therapists, patients, etc.

Study in Austria

Austria, a country in the heart of Europe, is dominated by the picturesque and the river Danube. Even though it is home of roughly 8.47 million people, which is less than the number of inhabitants in major world cities, it has much to offer. Vienna, its capital city boasts the world’s highest quality of living (according to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Mercer Survey) and is the greenest city worldwide.

It is one of Europe’s great cultural capitals, and for fans of architecture, music and art is not to be missed. Vienna has always been a buzzing international city and home to many ethnicities, religious denominations and people of different cultural and professional backgrounds. And let’s not forget about its role as an intellectual centre in the middle of Europe, which has contributed to the birth of psychoanalysis and thus to the development of the field of psychotherapy.

The online travel Guide for Vienna
The online Guide to Study in Vienna