Frequently Asked Questions: PhD Program


Do I need to have a Master's Degree to apply to the Doctoral Program in History?
Yes, you must have a Master's Degree and must have written a Master's thesis based on original research. It would be important to refer to that research in your proposal and consider it as one of the writing samples you must submit with your application. Candidates in the process of completing a degree program are welcome to apply, however, at the time of enrollment all applicants must have their degrees earned.

Can I apply to more than one doctoral program at CEU?
You are allowed to apply to two doctoral programs at CEU. However, you should be advised that at the doctoral level each department is looking for very specific preparation for the doctoral degree and each discipline has particular emphases and strengths. Therefore, you should examine the departments carefully in terms of course offerings and expectations and at minimum you should write two different dissertation proposals, one for each department.

What should I write in the dissertation proposal?
The dissertation proposal should include a clear statement of the research question that you would like to pursue in your dissertation research, the type of preparation you already have made in the topic, and an indication of the key research literature which informs your approach. The first year of the doctoral program includes the development of a full dissertation proposal, but the Doctoral Admissions Committee must make a judgment about the significance of the proposed research and how well it fits the expertise of the department as part of the admissions decision.

What happens if I cannot complete the application on time?
If at all possible you should submit the application by the university deadline. However, we are aware that it is sometimes difficult to obtain all of the necessary letters of recommendation by the deadline or that there are problems with the mail. Therefore, should you run into a problem, please contact the PhD coordinator and explain your situation.

What are my chances of obtaining financial aid?
All students accepted into the doctoral program are offered full tuition wavers and 48-month living stipend. After successfully completing the first year of study doctoral students can also apply for funds to attend conferences, summer universities.


What is meant by Comparative History?
The methods and topics of comparative history are presented in the first semester seminar, which describes the ways in which national histories can be compared and what type of questions can be asked and answered from such comparisons. The comprehensive exam at the end of the first year examines the student in two of the three regions covered by the program – Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe – which the student can define in a way that benefits the dissertation research topic. Comparative history also takes place in the classroom when students from different countries and specializing in different historical periods compare their observations and evidence on key theoretical questions.

Does my dissertation topic have to be comparative?
No, the dissertation does not have to be comparative, but it needs to be placed in a broader comparative framework, at least implicitly.

What type of topic must I choose?
The topics that work best are those that can be supervised by the faculty members of the department. The best topics emerge by looking at previous dissertations written at the department and also at faculty interests.

What if I do not yet have a topic?
The first year will offer the opportunity to refine your research topic in the writing of a dissertation research proposal, but it is important to have some idea of a "doable" research topic before you apply. The more prepared you are, the better your chances for admittance.

What type of research materials and opportunities would I have?
The CEU Library is one of the most up-to-date research libraries in the region. Most books and journals are available on open access shelves. There are more than 85 computers with access to electronic resources. In addition to the large English-language collection, publications are available in all languages of the region. The history book and journal collection is especially rich, due to important contributions from György Ránki, Jack Reese, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, and Elizabeth Valkenier, among others. The CEU Library is also the custodian of the book collection from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The library catalog is searchable online, so you can see for yourself the range of materials available.

In addition, the Open Society Archives in Budapest has a range of resources in both English and languages of the region. The collection includes materials collected by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, including extensive periodicals from the socialist period and samizdat. Visit OSA to read more about the collections, exhibitions, and special events.

Finally, the libraries in Vienna are rich in primary sources and CEU students can receive permission to do research there. In addition, the University and the Department also offer various opportunities and grant schemes for doing research at major academic centers in Europe and the United States.


How important are my English- language skills?
The doctoral program is taught entirely in English. If you did not write your Master's thesis in English or if English is not your native language, then you might consider applying first for the Master's degree, where there is significant English language support. Throughout the doctoral program students have access to the Academic Writing Center.

Can I study other languages?
CEU offers courses in French, German, and Spanish, among others.

If I speak a language of the region but not well, can I have additional instruction?
Yes, if you are interested in doing further study in one of the regional languages (e.g., Hungarian, Romanian, or a Slavic language), please indicate that in your application as tutorials with native speakers can be arranged.

What about computer access and training?
CEU has a number of computer labs available for student use as well as extensive and growing laptop areas for wireless access to the CEU computer system and internet. Each student has a student account, which is used for downloading reading assignments as well as for word processing term papers and the thesis. The computer staff has a help desk and also offers basic courses in some of the more common computer programs like Power Point.


What courses are offered?
The 1st year of the program is to be spent with coursework. The courses taught in the current and previous years are located on the Course Hub. Each course has a description and a syllabus, which is updated each year.

What are PhD courses?

The courses that are specified as PhD courses are structured specifically for the PhD students and are adapted each year to the interests and topics of the students. Since the program is comparative, special attention is paid to offering topical courses in each of the three geographical regions.


How would I find a place to live in Vienna?
If it is your first time in Vienna you might wish to stay at one of the housing providers for graduate students, The Student Hotel Vienna or in OeAD-Guesthouse Sechshauser Strasse. Alternatively, you can also look to rent an apartment. For more information on accommodation, please look here.

Doctoral students receive tuition and a living stipend for three years, with opportunities to apply for additional research funds.

For the estimation of the cost of living in Vienna, please look here.

Can I bring my family?
Families are welcome at CEU. The CEU web page on parental support offers details on schooling and CEU facilities. The schools and medical facilities are accessible. Please remember, however, that third-country nationals would need a work permit in order to take a job and that visa requirements should also be considered.

What about working in Vienna while attending classes?
Many students find work at CEU, for a student visa offers a special status within the university for third-country nationals. You can ask about these opportunities when you arrive.

How and when would I be able to travel back home?
The break between the fall and winter terms is usually about 3 weeks, when many students return home. The cost of returning home at this time is the student's responsibility.


What is it like to be a CEU student?
Both CEU and our department have many activities in addition to classes.
Student activities organized by CEU include students from many departments. Most CEU history students find a wealth of potential lectures and conferences to choose from. The History department also has an active student life. The photos on the website are taken by students for students and most find plenty to do after studying is finished. Our alumni probably give the best answers to that question.

What kind of help can I get in pursuing a career?
CEU provides a number of services, like career and educational counseling. The History Department faculty and staff also alert students to opportunities through email postings and posters, and supervisors are also instrumental in writing recommendations and supporting plans for work or further study. Many CEU alumni are also ready to help. As some of our alumni write, the small but cosmopolitan student body helps to create a supportive atmosphere for making the future contacts that will enable you to pursue the career of your choice. Most importantly, the Department has a blooming network of partner institutions in the region as well as in Western Europe and the United States and thus helps its alumni to find their academic context, inserting them into various research and educational networks.