PhD and Research based Master Degree in Australia

PhD and Research based Master Degree in Australia

PhD and Research based Master Degree in Australia
Prakash Aryal

Research Study in Australia has been attractive due to cutting-edge research facilities and laboratories in most of the Universities. The research works of Australia can compete globally in terms of research outcomes such as high-quality journal publication, patients, awards and innovations.

If you have a passion and dream to be a part of the research journey and want to know about the research degree types, scholarship schemes and the pathways to pursue research degrees offered by Australian Universities,  you have landed in a right place. 

Important information regarding this journey would be entry requirements, the application procedure for postgraduate scholarship and other several benefits offered by the universities such as relocation grant, travel grant and many more.

All the universities have set different criteria, terms and conditions for international students (students other than Australian citizens, Permanent Residents of Australia and New Zealand citizens) and domestic students (Australian citizens, Permanent Residents of Australia and New Zealand citizens).

We have summarised all the postgraduate research degrees in Australian universities and corresponding procedures step by step for international as well as domestic students.

Master’s Degree by Research or PhD

Master by research or a PhD is a research degree that is blended with required course work as well as specific research work (from 6 months for Masters till up to 3.5 years for PhD) and publication requirement (depending on University’s specific requirement). 

The duration of a Master’s by research degree can vary between 1-2 years whereas PhD duration can vary from 3-4 years. 

You have to have an outline of your research theme, objective and brief methodology and brief literature review on what is happening around the world on the subject matter of your specific research to convince the graduate research committee that you are fundamentally clear and you have sufficient knowledge to carry the research. Mind that the potential researcher can suggest editing the research outlines. 

You can view the university’s website and find potential supervisors in the area of your research. 

You do not need to hesitate to approach the potential supervisor (professors) via email clearly explaining your academic merits, IELTS score and area of your research and possible innovation/method that you want to apply.

In the sections below, we will explain a detailed step by step guide to secure your admission and scholarship in Australian universities for your postgraduate research degree.

Entry Requirements

To be eligible for a postgraduate research degree (Master’s by research or PhD), universities in Australia have set their entry requirements.

The specific requirement may vary depending on which University you are applying for. However, general requirements are as below:


  • A bachelor's degree requiring at least four years of full-time study in a relevant field, and which normally includes a research component in the fourth year, leading to an honours 1 or 2A in a relevant field;
  • A course leading to a level rated by the relevant department, faculty and committee as equivalent to an honours 1 or 2A in a relevant field;
  • A master's degree that entails work, normally including a significant research component, including at least 25% of one full-time equivalent year of work, including a thesis. It is normally expected that a grade of honours 2A has been obtained for the research thesis or project. Where ungraded, examiners' reports will be considered; or
  • Have qualifications which in the opinion of GRC are deemed equivalent.
  • Undergraduate or Bachelor’s degree in relevant subject for Master’s by research whereas Bachelor’s degree with honours or Master’s by research degree for PhD with marks at least 65% or above. This mark (%) may vary University wise.
  • Previous University ranking: Ranking of your previous degree University also contribute to your selection
  • Minimum GPA requirement: It may vary depending on course, faculty, and university. Generally, 3 GPAs or above should be eligible for entry and eligible for the scholarship. However, the higher the GPA, the higher the chance to get the scholarship.

English Language requirements:

Sound English language skills are required for academic programs at Australian Universities. Full documentary evidence in support of English Language Proficiency (ELP) must be submitted with applications for admission and scholarship.

If an applicant's first language is not English (i.e. originate from a country where English is not the official primary language), the ELP must be satisfied in at least one of the following ways:

  • PTE, IELTS, TOEFL or equivalent accredited English language courses has to be taken prior to processing the research degree admission. Generally, an overall band of 6.5 with no bands less than 6 equivalents to IELTS should be fine. Some specific band requirements may be asked in some specific faculty such as faculty of law, Business/economics or education.
  • Some universities have also provisioned English language bridging programs in case you have any difficulty in obtaining the required English score.
  • Previous research experience: If you have some previous research background such as in your honours degree or undergraduate degree including some publication, this will greatly help you in getting admission and scholarships.


Generally, if you wish to undertake your master’s by research or PhD degree under a full payment scheme, you need to pay 30-50 K AUD per year depending on your university and faculty. This fee will cover your tuition fee as well as research-related expenses. 

But, universities in Australia are offering several scholarships supported by either the commonwealth government or University fund or industry support. These scholarships will support your tuition fee only or both tuition fee as well as a living allowance (stipend). 

But Scholarships are awarded through a highly competitive selection process in which your academic record, Previous Academic Institution, your previous research output and research experiences are assessed. 

Similar to admission into a graduate research degree, our central scholarships have a set of Some of the common scholarships offered by the universities are as below:

  • Australia Award (for international students)
  • Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship (for domestic students)
  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) (for International students)
  • Postgraduate Scholarship at Australian Universities (Funded by University-specific fund)
  • Industry-funded Scholarship (both domestic or international students can apply)


Once your entry requirements for both admission as well as scholarships are met, either you directly can search for potential supervisors in the list of university resources and start a conversation if some PhD positions are available for you. 

In specific faculties of some universities, you have to lodge an expression of interest to pursue a postgraduate research degree in a particular university via their University portal Prior to applying for a graduate research degree.

 Forms and format for lodging EOI are given on the university or faculty or academic unit’s website. In some universities, there may be some specific research centres such as energy research centres or climate research centres etc.

Applications for a PhD, research master, course transfer and/or centrally managed scholarships are submitted through the Graduate Research Prior to starting your application. 

We strongly encourage you to review the University-specific application submission guide, which details all required supporting documentation and provides further useful information on Graduate Research Admission and Scholarship Application portal.

Basic documents required are listed as below:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Bachelor’s degree and or Master’s degree certificate
  •  Academic transcripts (certified or notarized)
  •  CV
  • Personal statement of 500 words describing why you should receive the award
  • Academic and professional references
  • Passport size photo
  • Proof of English language proficiency (usually the equivalent of IELTS 6.5)
  • Brief research proposal 2-3 pages unless specifically mentioned by the university ( which includes Background/Introduction, Objectives, Methodology, timeline and references)

Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to an interview, where you’ll be expected to speak to a panel or with a potential supervisor (Professor) about your country’s priority areas, your proposed Masters or PhD programme and your reintegration plan etc international students.

For domestic students, they will ask about your research plan, a brief background of you and future career aspiration/plan.

Successful scholars will receive up to:

  • A full tuition fee waiver
  • Travel expenses in the form of a return flight to Australia
  • An initial establishment grants 
  • ·A fortnightly maintenance stipend (approximately AUD $20,000 -$35,000 per year)
  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
  • Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF)
  • Visa fees
  • Other out of pocket expenses

Universities offering research-based degrees in Australia

List of Australian top 8 Universities offering research-based or PhD 

  • University of Melbourne
  • Australian National University
  • Monash University
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Queensland
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Western Australia

 Key Dates

Generally, key dates for intake of international and domestic students in a research degree in Australia are as below. However, some specific dates may vary according to the particular University’s schedule.

International applications

Enrolment period


open 1 September to 31 March

July - December of the current year


open 1 April to 31 August

January - June of the following year


Domestic applications

Enrolment period


open 1 November to 31 May

July - December of the current year


open 1 June to 31 October

January - June of the following year


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