Yes and no – is probably the right answer. Or in other words: Yes, but you have to consider a few things. Barbara Hamp from Teaching Affairs and Student Services explains what you need to keep in mind when starting your studies in the summer semester.
Let us begin with the basics of a summer semester entry:
No matter whether you start to study for the first time, change your degree programme, resume your studies or enrol on an additional degree programme: you are a lateral entrant when you do it in the summer semester.
What is special about summer semester entry?
- Actually, not much. Unlike school, semesters at a university are independent periods of study. Therefore, you might not, for instance, have the same German teacher as in the winter semester, who simply continues with his/her teaching material right where you stopped in the last week before the semester break. Rather, you will attend a lecture in German philology held by Professor A in the winter semester, and a lecture on the theory of language held by Professor B in the summer semester. And in the following winter semester, you visit another lecture held by Professor A, but this time on narrative styles.
- The regulations on tuition fees do not depend on whether you start studying in the winter or summer semester either. They rather depend on the legal framework which can change regardless of when you join.
Information about starting your studies in the summer semester
- Entrance examinations and aptitude tests: Some degree programmes require you to take entrance examinations or aptitude tests. These take place only once a year. If you pass, you may start studying in the subsequent winter or summer semester. However, introductory courses in these degree programmes rarely take place in the summer semester.
- New entrants: There are significantly fewer students who start studying in the summer semester. As a result, you have fewer colleagues who also have to find their way around the University for the first time. This may have its advantages and disadvantages.
- Range of courses: As most students start studying in the winter semester, there is a wider range of courses (especially for the STEOP – the introductory and orientation period) offered for new entrants in the winter semester. STEOP courses are also offered in the summer semester (except in some degree programmes with entrance examinations). However, it may be that certain courses are only offered once a week, while you can choose from four different course dates for the same course in the winter semester. This also has its advantages: you do not have to decide which date suits you best – a decision that might be overwhelming during your first weeks at the university.
What do I have to consider when starting my studies in the summer semester?
- Entrance examinations and aptitude tests: In some degree programmes, it is not possible to start your studies in the summer semester or only if you have already completed the entrance examination – this might make it difficult to attend the required courses. Please familiarise yourself with the conditions early enough.
- Admission period: The admission period for the summer semester lasts only one month (while it lasts two months for the winter semester). This leaves you with less time to take care of organisational issues. So if you have to wait for your official notice of admission (e.g. because you want to transfer from another university and enrol on a master’s programme at the University of Vienna), we recommend to submit your application for admission in the summer semester as soon as possible.
- Change of degree programme: If you are already studying and would like to transfer to another degree programme, we recommend that you enter all examination results from the previous semester in the system before changing the degree programme. Alternatively, you could register for an additional degree programme and withdraw from your old degree programme later on, as you can only enter examination results if you are admitted to the associated degree programme. And even if you think that the examination “is not important any more”, you could maybe still use it for an extension curriculum or an elective subject within your new degree programme.
- Federal aid for students/family allowance: You are eligible for federal aid for students/family allowance when you join in the summer semester – same as when you start studying “regularly”. However, especially if you change degree programmes you should check in advance with the competent authority to see if you are eligible for allowances.
And as of the second semester – no matter whether it is the winter or summer semester – all students are somehow in the same situation. You are already familiar with the basics of studying at a university and preparing a schedule on your own, and have made your first friends. :)
If you have questions about starting your studies in the summer semester, please get in touch with Teaching Affairs and Student Services. Feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments.