Doctorate Degree in Medical Sciences.

Do you have a passion to not only conduct research and publish medical innovations but pursue scientific work as well? Then a Doctorate in Medical Sciences is the program for you!

The full-time, English-language doctoral/PhD program in Medical Sciences is 180 ECTS credits. The program focuses on scientific work and completing a dissertation. You also learn transferable skills, such as presentation skills and writing scientific studies and papers.

The program concludes with a "defensio" (oral defense) of your dissertation in which you present your research study and findings in a public setting and open the topic up for discussion. Graduates of the Doctorate Degree program in Medical Sciences are conferred with either the title Dr. scient. med. or PhD.

Both types of degrees must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Successful completion of all of the courses as outlined in the curriculum
  • Successful completion of the dissertation in accordance with the applicable dissertation requirements (the minimum requirements are available Moodle, opens an external URL in a new window), as well as successfully passing the defensio
  • A minimum of one, first-author publication published in a high-ranking international peer-reviewed journal (mandatory for PhD candidates only)

The program options differ with regard to the nature of the required scientific work:

The Dr. scient. med. degree is conferred for clinical or epidemiologic research.

The PhD degree involves conducting basic research or translational (laboratory) research.


Page Content

Key Facts

Degree / PhD


6 semesters


180 Credits


English (Level C1)





What Makes Your Doctorate in Medicine at the JKU Special

  • Depending on the type of research project you opt for, you will graduate with the academic title, or a PhD
  • You can opt to conduct interdisciplinary research at the JKU. In addition to the Faculty of Medicine, the Johannes Kepler University also has faculties and schools in the fields of law, social sciences, business, engineering, computer sciences, natural sciences, and education.
  • The scientific community here in Linz is as young and innovative as the medical degree program at the JKU (method-centered learning, modular structure, the virtual MedSPACE, etc.). You will study and conduct research in an environment that is not only open to new approaches, but open to your ideas as well. We interact at eye level, supporting communication with fellow students and faculty members. 
  • We support our gifted junior researchers' talents on an individual basis. You also have a unique opportunity to present your own research findings in front of a large audience during Kepler Science Day.
  • If you work part-time, the doctoral program can be organized to a certain degree to facilitate your work schedule. If you opt to work while in the program, you can expect to extend the duration of your studies.

The Medical Doctorate Degree Program at the JKU

As part of the doctoral degree program, students are required to successfully complete a total of 180 ECTS credits as follows:

  • Dissertation, including the defensio (140 ECTS credits)
  • Mandatory Subjects (34 ECTS credits)
    • Fundamentals of Scientific Research and General Skills (17 ECTS credits)
    • Dissertation Topic: Dissertation colloquium, Interim Report I & II, Literature Clubs (17 ECTS credits)
  • Elective academic credits (6 ECTS credits)

As part of the Doctorate/PhD Medical Sciences program, you will learn how to:

  • independently plan and conduct internationally recognized research studies
  • publish research findings in internationally recognized journals 
  • present research findings to fellow academics, scholars, and scientists at international conferences and symposia
  • communicate implications related to research activities to the general public in a comprehensible manner

Your Career Prospects

A doctorate degree is a prerequisite to pursuing an academic career at universities, or at universities of applied sciences, at centers of excellence, or at other non-academic research institutions, particularly to work toward earning a PostDoc/Habilitation degree, and/or apply for a professorship position.

The successful completion of a PhD degree is considered advantageous in support of pursuing a career in industry, particularly senior research and development positions at pharmaceutical companies and in the biotech industry.

How to Enroll


  1. Contact a member of the Doctoral School (PDF), opens a file at the Johannes Kepler University's Faculty of Medicine who could potentially serve as a first supervisor.
  2. The potential first advisor must sign the tentative supervision agreement, opens a file. You must also submit a description of your research proposal (WordDoc), opens a file. Information about the Theses Advisory Committee is available below in the "Starting your Studies" section.
  3. Please send both documents together with a current CV and a letter of intent to: doctoralschool_medicalsciences(at) If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to use the general e-mail address: doktorat_MED(at) to contact a member of the Doctora School administration.
  4. A committee at the Doctoral School will evaluate the proposal and, if deemed suitable, will approve the research idea. Once approved, the Doctoral School spokesperson will confirm the candidate's academic supervision.
  5. Once the candidate has confirmed academic supervision, the candidate may proceed to the Admissions Office at the JKU to apply for admission to the program.

Application of Admission

To enroll in the doctorate degree program in Medical Sciences, please provide the following:

Submit the application for admission to the degree program online via MyAdmission, opens an external URL in a new window. You will also need a student applicant account. Click here for detailed information about enrollment.

Start Your Studies

Your Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) is required to supervise your dissertation and monitor your progress in an academic, scientific, and scholarly capacity from the very start.

Your three-person TAC team must include:

  1. The first supervisor (a Doctoral School member holding a PostDoc/Habilitation degree);
  2. A second supervisor (must hold a PostDoc/Habilitation; if the individual is not associated with the JKU, submit a request, opens a file to the JKU Admissions Office);
  3. A third member, selected by the candidate in consultation with the first supervisor. The third member must hold a subject-related academic doctorate degree and be actively involved as part of another working group, or at another institute, or at another department other than the first and second supervisor's department(s).

Once a year, the candidate will be required to hold a presentation for the Thesis Advisory Committee regarding progress in the dissertation, which will be documented in a TAC protocol. The form is available in Moodle. Once the form is completely filled out and signed, the student is required to upload the form in Moodle as part of the Dissertation Colloquium, Interim Report I & II courses.

As part of the dissertation colloquium at the start of your studies, you will be required to present a comprehensive dissertation concept. The concept must address the following points:

  • the dissertation's objectives
  • the current state of science as related to your dissertation
  • the research questions
  • the intended applied research methods
  • the schedule
  • the required financial and/or material resources
  • the required availability in regard to the research infrastructure
  • Information about the ethics review process
  • the members of your Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC)

As soon as you have selected your team of supervisors, please inform the JKU's Office of Examinations and Recognition Services regarding your first and second supervisor. Once you have successfully completed the dissertation colloquium (no later than by the end of the third semester), you will need to finalize a dissertation agreement and submit that agreement to the Office of Examinations and Recogntion Services. The required forms are available here ("Doktorat neu").

Cardea: The Electronic Attendance Registry

Courses that include examinations and/or mandatory attendance require advance registration. Use the Faculty of Medicine's electronic attendance system (Cardea, opens an external URL in a new window) for this purpose (a QR code, or via your mobile phone using the MyJKU app, or by using your student ID card). See the blackboard at the Faculty of Medicine - Medical Sciences, opens an external URL in a new window for detailed information.

Only this method of taking attendance will be accepted in order to receive a passing course grade.

The Dissertation

When writing your dissertation, please take the following aspects into account (see: dissertation guidelines / minimum dissertation requirements, opens an external URL in a new window to learn more):

  • Publications may not be used as a substitute for a dissertation.
  • One publication may not be used for multiple dissertations.
  • An introduction, including a detailed description of the state of research based on the literature, resources, and a description of any gap in the research
  • A clear and comprehensive description of the hypotheses and research questions for the duration of the research study
  • A transparent presentation of applied research methods
  • A detailed presentation of findings in relation to the research questions
  • A discussion of the findings in relation to existing literature and resources, the derived research questions, study limitations, and future implications regarding research
  • Proof of publications ( for example, in the dissertation appendix)

Cumulative dissertations are permitted upon request (see Moodle to access the application form). Cumulative dissertations require a minimum of three original papers in first authorship or co-authorship (see the curriculum for details). Please include the following (see the "dissertation guidelines/minimum requirements for a dissertation, opens an external URL in a new window" to learn more):

  • Publications may not be used as a substitute for a dissertation.
  • One publication may not be used for multiple dissertations.
  • Any and all publications must have been accepted for publication upon submitting the cumulative paper
  • An introduction, including a detailed description of the state of research based on the literature, resources, and a description of any gap in the research
  • A clear and comprehensive description of the hypotheses and research questions for the duration of the research study
  • Publications must be documented in the dissertation (see: "minimum requirements for a dissertation" to learn more).
  • The closing discussion should be holistically and broadly placed in relation to the state of the research and the research questions. Summarizing the publications with a collected conclusion is insufficient.
  • The first and last author(s) are required to sign and verify the respective candidate's contributions to the publication. By signing the form, all of the other co-authors consent to use of the publication in the corresponding dissertation.
  • Before submitting a cumulative dissertation, you must obtain approval by the Dean of Studies and the Doctoral School. The form is available in Moodle, opens an external URL in a new window; please send the form to: doctoralschool_medicalsciences(at)



Your dissertation must be reviewed by two post-doctoral faculty members who are not a member of the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC); they may not be co-authors of publications for the dissertation. The  Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs will receive the reviews. You and/or your team of dissertation supervisors can provide the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs with a list of eligible and qualified (and in general) external reviewers.

The dissertation will be reviewed and evaluated as part of a defensio by a three-member examination board:

  1. Your first or second dissertation supervisor
  2. A representative in the subject area (generally one of the reviewers)
  3. The Doctoral School spokesperson, or an appointed representative

Your third Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) member may not be a member of the Examination Board.

The defensio is an oral defense of your dissertation as well as an opportunity to examine your ability to independently address scientific issues as part of your dissertation subject. The defensio begins with a 30-45 minute presentation by the candidate in regard to content and the dissertation's key findings. The presentation will be followed by a discussion of the topics covered during the presentation and, if necessary, other aspects as covered by the dissertation. The defensio may not exceed 120 minutes. All of the examination board members are required to be present.

The examination board will grade the dissertation immediately after the defensio is completed. The examination board will render its decision based on:

  1. a statement by the supervising team
  2. the two expert opinions/reviews
  3. their conclusions following the defensio

Please note that in accordance with Study Law, the dissertation's ECTS credits (140) can only be awarded after submission.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the program, or need help registering to enroll, please contact the JKU's Office of Student Information & Advising Services (SIBS). Our team at the JKU's Office of Student Information & Advising Services (SIBS), or your contact person for doctoral studies (doktorat_MED(at), will be happy to help you!