sowi:docs Fellowship Programme 2021

Application period: 14 December 2020–31 January 2021

sowi:docs is the doctoral fellowship programme of the Vienna Doctoral School of Social Sciences (ViDSS). sowi:docs fellowships give outstanding doctoral candidates in the social sciences the opportunity to devote full-time effort to their research and to writing their doctoral thesis in the vibrant research environment of ViDSS. We welcome applications in the fields of communication, demography, development studies, nursing science, political science, science and technology studies, social and cultural anthropology and sociology.

The sowi:docs Fellowship Programme aims at recruiting the best candidates. All candidates are in direct competition with each other, regardless of their fields of research. Applicants need the support of a supervisor who is a member of the ViDSS, must provide a CV indicating their above-average qualifications in the discipline in which they intend to write their doctoral thesis and have to submit a research proposal that is forwarded to international experts for review.

The funding period of the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme is three years. An extension of the funding period is not possible. sowi:docs fellows are employed with the University of Vienna for 30h/week according to the applicable collective bargaining agreement. They are members of the academic staff and enjoy all rights and duties that come with such a position.

sowi:docs fellows are enrolled on the doctoral programme in Social Sciences at the University of Vienna and become members of the Vienna Doctoral School of Social Sciences. As ViDSS students, fellows actively participate in the activities organised by the doctoral school and complete the milestones of the doctoral programme throughout their doctoral studies.


Applicants need at least one supervisor employed with the University of Vienna who is working in the subject area of the planned thesis and who is a member of the Vienna Doctoral School of Social Sciences. It is a requirement that the relevant supervisor has already accepted the applicant as a doctoral candidate when they submit their application.

Applicants do not necessarily have to be enrolled on the doctoral programme in the Social Sciences at the University of Vienna when they submit their application. However, they have to be granted admission in the winter semester of 2021/2022. If the applicant is already a doctoral candidate in the Social Sciences at the University of Vienna, they must have been admitted no earlier than in the summer semester of 2019. Applicants who have already been working on their doctoral thesis in a funded position for more than two years (at the University of Vienna or elsewhere) are not eligible for a sowi:docs fellowship.

sowi:docs fellows must comply with the rules and regulations for passing the public presentation at the Faculty and for concluding the doctoral thesis agreement with their supervisor/s as specified in the ViDSS.

Application documents

  1. Letter of motivation: Describe your previous academic achievements, your mid-term career goals and your motivation for the subject area you chose. Name the member of the ViDSS who has accepted you as a doctoral candidate.
  2. CV in tabular form (no more than 3 pages including a list of publications, if available)
  3. Degree certificates (incl. transcripts) of previously completed university degree programmes
  4. Abstract of the research proposal (no more than 250 words including a working title of the doctoral thesis project)
  5. Research proposal (no more than 10 pages including a list of references, font size of 11pt, 1.5 line spacing): A research proposal for the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme must include:

           • Current state of research and positioning of the research project
           • Academic goals and methodological approach
           • Work schedule and required financial and material expenses
           • Preliminary bibliography

    To facilitate double-blind review, please remove any identifying information, such as your name, from your research proposal before submission.
  6. Positive statement/s from your (future) supervisor/s: Following the submission of your application, your supervisor/s at the ViDSS will be asked to complete and submit a form containing a set of questions about you and your doctoral thesis project. The deadline for the submission of this statement is 7 February 2021. Please note that your application is not complete and will not be considered without a statement from one of your supervisors at the ViDSS.

All documents have to be written in English.

Only complete applications that fulfil the formal criteria will be considered for assessment. It is not possible to make amendments once an application has been submitted.

Applications have to be submitted via e-mail (in one single PDF file) to


A jury, consisting of experts who are members of the Faculty of Social Sciences, will review all applications that fulfil the formal criteria. The jury decides which applications are forwarded to international reviewers. After the first selection procedure, all applicants are informed about the jury’s decision.

Applications selected by the jury are reviewed by two international reviewers from outside the University of Vienna. Reviewers are asked to assess the proposals according to the following criteria: innovation, academic relevance, methodological appropriateness and feasibility. In well-founded cases, applicants can specify up to two researchers who should not act as reviewers for their application.

During a second meeting, the jury will discuss and compare all applications and reviews in detail and compile a final shortlist of candidates. The reviewers’ assessments will be the main basis for the shortlist. In addition, the jury members will take the academic potential of the applicants into consideration and assess the research proposals according to the duration candidates have already been working on their doctoral thesis projects.

If, following the deliberations, the number of shortlisted candidates exceeds the number of fellowships available, the final decision to award the sowi:docs fellowships is based on random selection. If applications are unanimously selected for funding, they are excluded from the lottery. In that case, the decision to award the remaining scholarships is based on random selection. After the final decision, the reviews are anonymised and forwarded to the applicants.

It is possible to apply for the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme again. In your letter of motivation, please describe the progress that you have made since the first application and how you have revised your research proposal based on the feedback you received from the jury or the reviewers. If you submit your application again, we will ask one of your reviewers from the first round to assess your revised research proposal.

Applicants do not have recourse to legal action.


By submitting your application, you consent to the processing and usage of your personal data for selection, monitoring and statistical purposes. Your personal data will be passed on to the ViDSS administration team and the jury members. You can revoke this consent at any time by sending an email to





Can I submit several applications for the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme?
Can I apply for less than three years? I plan to finish my doctoral project in one to two years.
Is there an age limit?
I will obtain my master’s degree soon. Is it possible to apply for the fellowship?
Is it possible to apply for the programme again and submit a revised application in the next call?
How do I know if my application has been submitted successfully?
Can I apply for a doctoral fellowship at other funding bodies as well?

External applications


I am not an Austrian citizen. Can I apply for the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme?
I have a master’s degree from a foreign university or will complete my master’s programme within the next few months. Can I apply for the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme?
I have a master’s degree from a foreign university and I am not yet enrolled at the University of Vienna. When do I have to enrol on the doctoral programme and what do I need for admission?
I have a degree from a university outside of Austria. Is it possible that I have to complete additional courses as a result of my application for admission?
Is proficiency in German a prerequisite for applying for the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme?



What is the latest date at which I can start the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme?
My application was forwarded to international reviewers. When will I receive information about the final decision?
Does employment include a workplace at the University of Vienna?
Do I have to live in Vienna?
Do I have to pay tuition fees (in the case of applicants from third countries)?
Can I take maternal/paternal leave?
Does the sowi:docs Fellowship Programme also include teaching obligations?
Is it possible to extend the funding granted as part of the sowi:docs programme, if I am not able to complete my doctoral studies within the funded three-year-period?