Medical Science
Study & continuing education > Doctorate Studies > Medical Science

Doctoral Programme in Medical Science (Ph.D.)

Why should I do a doctorate?

A doctorate is the gateway to research as a profession in academia, in a clinical setting or in the private sector. Your main drivers should be curiosity, self-discipline and a keen interest in the workings of our body, its cells, its disorders and their cures.

The programme is open to all innovative people who want to learn how to conduct high quality research including medical doctors, natural scientists, mathematicians, statistician, physicists, computer scientists, engineers, psychologists, social scientists, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and dietitians. If you are not sure whether your studies can be considered, please get in touch

Our application deadlines are 31st July (start winter term) and 31st January (start summer term) every year.

The PhD Course

The doctorate is taught through the medium of English and lasts a minimum of 3 years depending on the nature of the research. As a 180 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) program, it completes the higher education cycle (third cycle) at the national and European level 8. It is also the stepping stone to obtain a Habilitation.

The course can be studied at the PMU Salzburg in Austria or the PMU Nürnberg in Germany including the associated hospitals (Klinikum Nürnberg, University Hospital Salzburg (SALK)).

It is currently being accredited by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria) in Vienna. Importantly, it meets the benchmarks of major funding bodies including the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), the German Research Society (DFG) and the European Research Council (ERC).

The academic award is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, philosophiae doctor), the highest academic degree with a worldwide recognition.

The supervisory team consisting of a lead supervisor and two co-supervisors, who will guide you through your independent research project that should result in novel insights into the respective scientific field. On the way, you will learn cutting edge techniques, scientific competences, employability skills, and meet people from different disciplines and diverse countries who share your enthusiasm for science.

While the lead supervisor needs to hold a German or Austrian habilitation or a similar qualification, a completed doctorate training (e.g. PhD, Dr. rer. nat.) is sufficient for the two co-supervisors. The co-supervisors may be external, but the lead-supervisor must be affiliated with the PMU or its hospitals.

Please note that medical doctors working in Austria may be able to combine the research module of their medical specialist training (Facharztausbildung) with the doctorate.

Total Costs

The current tuition fee is €2,450.00 per academic year payable for three years. At the start of the 4th year and thereafter the fee is reduced to €300 per year (or €150 per term). Fees are typically invoiced in October and March. Fees may be paid by your research group or clinic. There are no additional costs other than the contribution to the Austrian Student Union (ÖH) and costs linked with individual activities (e.g. software licences, reminder fees).

The total cost of the 3 year PhD course is EUR 7,477.20

Tuition Fee for 3 years: EUR 7,350.00

ÖH (Students` Union):     EUR 136.20

Total Costs:                      EUR 7,486.20


Additional Services

The following services are available to students on the PhD Medical Science

  • free statistical advice & free SPSS software
  • free training in clinical trail design & ethics applications
  • free workshops on the computer language R (Big Data Analysis & Literature Reviews), scientific writing and qualitative research methods
  • free career advice
  • English Editing Service (here a small fee applies)
  • Access to English language courses (here a small fee applies)



What will I study?

The main element of the 180 ECTS course is your Research Project (148 ECTS or 82%). This is the time you spent generating new knowledge whilst learning the top of the range methods and techniques. Wrapped around this core are the Optional Research Activities (19 ECTS or 11%) and only three taught Modules (13 ECTS or 7%). The duration of the PhD is a minimum of 3 years, though the research project may exceed this time frame. 

Curriculum Map

All activities you do in support of your scientific work like presenting results at a conference, spending time at a collaborating laboratory or undergoing further training count towards the 19 ECTS of the Optional Research Activities. This means that 93% of the doctorate is your research that can take place at the PMU Salzburg or the PMU Nürnberg or their associated hospitals. In Salzburg, this is the University Hospital (SALK, Doppler Clinic) and in Nürnberg this is the Klinikum Nürnberg Nord & Süd. Projects may also be based at any research institution, clinic or company that collaborates with a scientist affiliated with the PMU or any of the two lead hospitals. 

The three taught modules PhD Novice, PhD Advanced and PhD Expert run each as one teaching block of one week which is offered twice every academic year to minimize the time you spent away from your research and to offer high flexibility and studiability, especially if you work away from Salzburg or Nürnberg.  

Module Content:

PhD Novice: Philosophy of Science, Basic Statistics, Ethics & Diversity, Self-management, Research Funding, Grant Writing - Scientific Writing & Communication (optional) - year 1 - one teaching week - offered twice

PhD Advanced: Scientific Publishing, Project Management, Peer Review, Advanced Statistics, From the Idea to the Product (Innovation) - year 2 - one teaching week - offered twice

PhD Expert: Evidence-based Medicine, Quality Management, Logic & Decision Theory, Digital Transformation - year 3 - one teaching week - offered twice

The course ends with a publication-based cumulative thesis (a monographic thesis or a combination of publication & thesis are also possible) which you defend in a public viva voce (rigorosum).


Module Dates:


PhD Novice - Year 1

Monday 06. November 2023 - Friday 10. November 2023

Monday 08. April 2024 - Friday 12. April 2024


PhD Advanced - Year 2

Monday 13. November 2023 - Wednesday 15. November 2023

Monday 15. April 2024 - Wednesday 17. April 2024


PhD Expert - Year 3

Monday 20. November 2023 - Thursday 23. November 2023

Monday 22. April 2024 - Thursday 25. April 2024


PMU PhD students can get reduced accommodation at Motel One Salzburg during the festival season. Outside of the festival season, standard rates are charged.

How to apply?

The key to get a place on the PhD course is an agreed research project. 

How do I find a research project? 

As we have currently more than 70 possible supervisors covering more than 30 different medical and biomedical disciplines, the first contact should always with the group leader or clinic head!

You will find further information about their work in our Scientific Database (PMU-SQQUID), on Pubmed or at the individual institute and departmental web pages. The current group of more than 120 students is evenly split between natural scientists and medical doctors. If you want to know what the previous PhD students did, you find their dissertations here.

If you have your own stipend, work at a company or at a University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule) and want to apply for a place on the program, or need advice on how to find a research project, please contact the course director Dr. Thomas Caspari in Salzburg or Dr. Barbara Ruder his deputy in Nürnberg. Personal meetings can be arranged via Skype, MS Teams, Zoom or by phone.  

Lead Supervisor

The lead supervisor must be based at either of the two PMU sites in Salzburg or Nürnberg including the affiliated hospitals. The lead supervisor must hold the Austrian or German Habilitation or an equivalent qualification. The two co-supervisors need only a completed doctorate and may be located outside of the research group or outside of the PMU and its affiliated hospitals. One co-supervisor must be external to the group in which the research project is conducted (but may be from another PMU or clinic department).

The first contact and the primary selection of candidates reside with the heads of the hospital departments and research group leaders. 

Clinical Projects 

Your research can be intertwined with your clinical work and may be combined with the medical specialist training (Facharztausbildung).

External Projects

If your project is based outside of the PMU, at a private company, Technical University or independent research institution, you will need to have a lead supervisor who is  affiliated with the PMU Salzburg or Nürnberg. Your project supervisor can act as co-supervisor on the supervision team.

Application Documents

The application deadlines are the 31st July and 31st January every year. All applications must be submitted through this website. Informal feedback on your research plan and application is available up to 14 days prior to the deadline and provided by the course director or his deputy. Please send the documents by email directly to the course director in Salzburg or his deputy in Nürnberg.

The complete application includes:

(i)  research proposal

(ii)  supervision agreement

(iii) CV

(iv) certificates (university entry qualification, Bachelor & Master or Diploma certificates)

(v) international applicants who are no native English speakers need proof of English language proficiency at level B2. For fluent German speakers, this is typically covered by the standard English training that is required to obtain the university entry qualifications at ISCED level 3 (Sekundarstufe II). Native English speakers do not need to provide proof of language proficiency.

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must have the following qualifications:

university entry qualification (i.e. Matura, Abitur) or equivalent


a Bachelor degree of at least 180 ECTS combined with a Master degree of at least 120 ECTS


a Bachelor-Master combination or a Diploma degree amounting to a total of at least 300 ECTS


a professional training combined with a Master degree of at least 120 ECTS.


applicants with only a Bachelor degree (especially from English speaking counties) may be admitted on a case-by-case basis and additional admission conditions (i.e completion of additional modules) may apply.


Content areas may include natural sciences, medicine (human, dental, veterinary), psychology, social sciences, mathematics, informatics, computer sciences, physics, engineering or any research-relevant training.

Missing documents: Missing documents may be submitted not later than 6 months after the start of the PhD course or to an earlier deadline set by the course director or his deputy.


How does the admission process work?

Admission starts with the formal review of the uploaded documentation (i.e. are the formal admissions criteria met?).

In the research proposal, we look out for the following elements (i) a viable hypothesis that can be tested, (ii) suitable methods to test the hypothesis, (iii) a scientifically sound analysis of the results (i.e. statistical methods, sample sizes, repeats, collaborations, adequate technology), (iv) a total research time that covers a minimum of 138 ECTS (=3450h=432 working days a 8h), (v) a brief statement explaining how the research is combined with your professional duties (i.e. the research period may exceed 3 years), (vi) clearly defined milestones with allocated times, (vii) alternative approaches if a key milestone may not be met and (viii) a description of the work that is understandable for somebody who is no expert in the field.

All suitable candidates are then invited to present their planned work in a 10 min oral presentation in front of a small group. This constructive discussion is conducted in English and may be hold online (MS Teams, Zoom, Skype).


How to find financial support for the PhD

There are many sponsors who provide financial support for PhD students. Which program you may be able to access depends on your country of origin and your field of research.

Please note that students studying at the PMU Salzburg are eligible for Austrian grants, whereas students studying at the PMU Nürnberg are eligible for German & Bavarian grants!

The databases and sponsors listed below help you to start your search. Please note that the list is not complete. Further information and guidance is available at our research office.

Funding for projects based at the PMU Salzburg:

Austrian Database for Scholarships and Research Grants

OEAD Database for Postgraduates and PhD students

Scholarships, Fellowships and grants for international students in Austria

Financing your Studies in Austria

FWF Austrian Science Fund

Funding for projects based at the PMU Nürnberg:

DFG German research Society

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Grants for students studying in Bavaria

Location independent funding:

Find a PhD



Support for international applicants

It is the responsibility of the applicant to arrange the necessary documentation to work in Austria or Germany. Specific residency and visa regulations may apply to international applicants depending on their country of origin.

If you have questions about your stay at the PMU, please get in touch with our International Office.

Below you find the key links to identify the required documentation needed for either Austria (PMU Salzburg) or Germany (PMU Nürnberg).

International applications for a PhD place in Austria at the PMU Salzburg or at the University Hospital Salzburg:

If you apply from outside Austria, the residency and visa regulations depend on your country of origin. The Database Entry and Residence for Students and Researchers of the OEAD allows you to find the right visa or residence title for Austria.

If you are a medical doctor from a European country and want to work at the University Hospital Salzburg while conducting a PhD, you find the legal requirements here.

International applications for a PhD place in Germany at the PMU Nürnberg or at the Klinikum Nürnberg:

If you apply from outside Germany, the residency and visa regulations depend on your country of origin. You find further information here.

If you are a medical doctor from a European country and want to work at the Klinikum Nürnberg while conducting a PhD, you find the legal requirements here.


Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Caspari
PhD Medical Science
Course Director

Phone: +43 662 2420-80245
Mobile: +43 699 14420037
Maria-Fe Ortner, MA
PhD Medical Science
Administrative Assistant 

Phone: +43 662 2420-80247
Annette Beyer
PhD Medical Science
Course Administration

Phone: +43 662 2420-80246



Study & Examination Regulations (all regulations of the PhD course)

Educational Contact (signed by all students at the start of the PhD)

Research Plan Template (use this file to plan your PhD project for the application)

Supervision Agreement Intern for students based at the PMU or its associated clinics & institutes - applies to PMU Salzburg and PMU Nürnberg

Supervision Agreement Extern for students not based at the PMU or its associated clinics & institutes