Highly qualified applicants from all over the world are invited to apply for the PhD Program "Human River systems in the 21st century (HR21)".

Information about entry conditions to Austria can be found at the homepage of Austria’s Agency for Education and Internationalisation


Application Guidelines

  • HR21 is a Doctoral School of BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.
    Information about the general admission of foreign students to doctoral programs of BOKU can be found here
  • Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree equivalent to a master which would qualify them to start a PhD thesis in their home country. Candidates who have not yet obtained their degree can be accepted if they finish their studies latest by the end of May 2024. If you will receive your degree later (not later than beginning of July 2024), you may be selected conditionally.
  • Applicants with only a bachelor degree or similar are not eligible.
  • PhD students must have a master degree in environmental sciences, natural resource management, environmental studies, environmental engineering, interdisciplinary environmental or sustainability sciences or closely related subjects.
  • Applicants must be fluent in both spoken and written English.


Description of the conceptual approach and the three research fields


How to apply

1. Choose PhD project(s)

Currently the following fifteen PhD projects are available to apply for, click on the link to find detailed information on our website:

Topic 1: Role of hydrological extremes (floods) for sediment transport and morphodynamics in the human-river system

Topic 2: Material resources demand and flows of hydraulic structures to prevent societal impact of extreme events (social ecology, environmental history)

Topic 3: Intermittent flow – hydrological effects and impacts on benthic communities, ecological state and functioning of riverine systems

Topic 4: Drought, low flow and warming – hydrological effects and impacts on the ecological state and functioning of river systems

Topic 5: Water transit time distributions as indicators for the vulnerability of riverine ecosystems under different pressures from social metabolism

Topic 6: Analyzing possible contributions of re-activated former watercourses towards a more sustainable transformation of industrialized riverine landscapes in urban areas

Topic 7: The role of the latest industrial revolutions on instream processes and ecological vulnerability of IRL

Topic 8: The effects of infrastructure development on ecological and ecosystem service network properties in river systems

Topic 9: The impact of urban settlements on organic matter and nutrient flows in industrialized riverine landscapes – What can we learn from the past?

Topic 10: Urban metabolism, a river’s ecohydrology and industrialization: Vienna and the Danube, 1800-2000

Topic 11: Impact of external organic matter sources on nutrient, sediment and water transport from cropland into streams

Topic 12: Impacts of bioenergy crops used as riparian buffer strips on stream ecosystems’ functioning

Topic 13: Sustainable hydropower & and the water-energy-food nexus in multi-stressed IRLs: Challenges and solutions for science & management

Topic 14: Integrated modelling of farmers’ climate change impact and adaptation appraisal to inform regional human river nexus management

Topic 15: Strategic planning approaches to territorial governance of industrialized riverine landscapes


2. Prepare a letter of motivation (max. 2 pages including a ranking and a rationale if more than one PhD topic is chosen), 2 academic references, and an academic CV including all your research and educational experiences relevant for the PhD project you apply for.

Send all requested documents together with all enclosures by email to recruiting(at) Please indicate which project you apply for by including the PhD topic number in the subject line. You can apply for maximum 3 PhD topics which need to be clearly ranked in the motivation letter with a rationale.


  • Copy of your bachelor, diploma or master’s certificate (if already available)
  • Copy of your certificates obtained for coursework including grades (transcript of records of bachelor and master studies)
  • Copy of your passport

Please send all enclosures as a single pdf file (≤10 MB)!

Please note: Documents in languages other than English or German must be submitted as English translations.

Only fully completed application forms will be considered. Other forms of application will not be accepted.



The deadline for the submission of the completed Application Forms including all enclosures is

April 2nd, 2024


All applications will be pre-screened by the HR21 faculty for formal requirements and completeness. Latest beginning of May 2024, short-listed candidates will receive invitations for interviews and information exchange, the interviews are scheduled for May 27th to May 29th, 2024. Interviews will be held in person or online. Travel expenses will not be reimbursed.

Offers of admission will be made to the successful candidates at the end of the interview period.

Financial Support

PhD students admitted to the HR21 Doctoral School will have a regular employment with full social security coverage for 4 years. Students will receive funding according to the salary scheme of the Austrian Science Fund (net annual income after deduction of tax and social insurance approx. € 25.500,--). The salary is guaranteed for the proposed 4-year duration of the thesis work.

Additionally, students will receive financial support for participations at international conferences and for research stays abroad in collaborating international institutions.

As a doctoral candidate at BOKU you have to pay the ÖH fee (currently EUR 22.70). Further information on tuition fee can be found on this website: