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Use of academic degrees

Have you got an academic degree? You should note the following if you want to use the title.

What does ‘using’ an academic title mean?

Using an academic title means using it in dealings with third parties, i.e. displaying it to other people. Because awarding and using an academic title are both associated with certain legitimate expectations, there are strict legal rules about it, i.e. when and how to use it. It is important to note that using an academic title is a right, but not an obligation.

Austrian academic titles

Austrian academic titles may be used as follows:

  • Privately without restriction – you may use them freely on letterheads, business signs, business cards, etc.
  • In dealings with the authorities, for information submissions of any type – you may use your academic title in the relevant boxes on forms.
  • To display on official copies and documents of all types, but only in its shortened form.

The law stipulates how an Austrian academic title may be used. Diplomas and doctorates should be placed before the name, while bachelor’s, master’s and ‘PhD’ titles should be placed afterwards, unless another structure is set out on the form you are completing. There are alternative forms of academic title: the full German or English or Latin (if applicable) version may be used, or the relevant abbreviation for the academic title.

Examples:

Mag. phil. Dr. phil. Peter Mayer
Diplom-Ingenieurin or DI Petra Berger
Dr. techn. Hans Müller, BA MA
Johanna Schneider, MSc PhD

In practice, some unofficial shortened forms have come into usage which meet with no objections, provided that they do not lead to confusion or false assumptions about the person in question. We would however advise that these only be used informally. There is no legal right to display these forms of title on official copies or enter them on documents.

Examples:

MMag. DDr. Petra Schneider

Using ‘Dr.mult.’ to denote multiple doctorates is not permitted, as there is no legal basis for it. If someone has been awarded the same academic degree – meaning a degree for which the title is worded the same – multiple times, then this same title may be used multiple times. If someone has studied for two or three different degrees in the same subject, for example a diploma and doctorate, or a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate, then they may use all the relevant academic titles. It is not the case that a subsequent, more senior academic degree somehow cancels out the previous degree(s).

Examples:

Josefa Müller, BA BA
Dipl.-Ing. Dipl.-Ing. Josef Berger

Since 1993, academic titles have had a feminine form such as ‘Magistra’ where the titles were previously explicitly masculine, for example ‘Magister’. Female graduates who were previously awarded an academic title in the masculine form are now entitled to use the feminine form of that title. If you use one of these titles privately, you may also add a gender-specific suffix in German (e.g. Dr.in).

Foreign academic titles

Foreign academic titles may be used according to the same rules as Austrian academic titles.
The main condition on using a foreign academic title is that it was awarded by an institution which is a recognised university or higher education institute.
Entries in official documents/certificates are only permitted for academic titles from EU and EEA countries and Switzerland, and for academic titles in theology from pontifical universities.
The form in which foreign academic titles may be used depends on the level of qualification achieved (bachelor, master or doctor) and on the subject area (e.g. humanities, natural sciences).

Examples:

Petra Mayer, BA
Boris Vuković, MSc
Peter Schneider, PhD

No additional rights are directly associated with the right to use an academic title, and this includes professional rights.
If a foreign academic degree is validated in Austria, then the appropriate Austrian academic title should subsequently be used in place of the foreign title.

European legislation

Austrian legislation complies with European legislation, and in particular the Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications, 2005/36/EC.

Please note

The rules described above do not apply directly to other titles not linked to academic degrees, such as professional titles like ‘engineer’.

The competent authorities

If a title is to be entered into official documents, then the relevant authority (for example the passport office) is responsible for this. ENIC NARIC AUSTRIA has no statement to make about this.

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