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 most universities' cutting-edge research facilities and laboratories. The research works of Australia can compete globally in terms of research outcomes such as high-quality journal publications, patents, awards and innovations.

Suppose 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 pathways to pursue research degrees offered by Australian Universities. In that case, you have landed in the right place. 

Important information regarding this journey would be entry requirements, the application procedure for postgraduate scholarships and other university benefits, such as relocation grants, travel grants 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 and domestic students.

Master’s Degree by Research or PhD

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

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

It would be best to have an outline of your research theme, objective and methodology and a brief literature review on what is happening worldwide on your specific research to convince the graduate research committee that you are fundamentally clear and 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 your research area. 

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 to 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, the general requirements are as below:


  • A bachelor's degree requiring at least four years of full-time study in a relevant field, and which usually includes a research component in the fourth year, leading to 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 entails work, generally including a significant research component, at least 25% of one full-time equivalent year of work, including a thesis. It is usually 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 by University wise.
  • Previous University ranking: Ranking of your previous degree University also contributes to your selection
  • Minimum GPA requirement: It may vary depending on the course, faculty, and university. Generally, 3 GPAs or above should be eligible for entry and scholarship. However, the higher the GPA, the higher the scholarship's chance.

English Language requirements:

Good 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.

Suppose an applicant's first language is not English (i.e. originate from a country where English is not the official primary language). In that case, 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 before processing the research degree admission. Generally, an overall band of 6.5 with no bands less than 6 equivalents to IELTS should be acceptable. Some specific band requirements may be asked in specific faculties such as faculty of law, Business/economics or education.
  • Some universities have also provisioned English language bridging programs if you have difficulty 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 significantly help you get admission and scholarships.

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Generally, if you wish to undertake your master’s by research or PhD degree under a whole payment scheme, you must 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 offer several scholarships supported by either the commonwealth government University funds or industry support. These scholarships will support your tuition fee only or both and a living allowance (stipend). 

But Scholarships are awarded through a highly competitive selection process in which your academic record, Previous Academic Institution, 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 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 funds)
  • Industry-funded Scholarship (both domestic or international students can apply)


Once your entry requirements for both admission and scholarships are met, you can directly 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 must express interest in pursuing a postgraduate research degree in a particular university via their University portal Before applying for a graduate research degree.

 Forms and format for lodging EOI are on the university, 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 centrally managed scholarships are submitted through the Graduate Research before starting your application. 

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

The basic documents required are listed 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 a potential supervisor (Professor) about your country’s priority areas, your proposed Master's or PhD programme and your reintegration plan, international students.

Domestic students, they will ask about your research plan, a brief background of you and future career aspirations/plans.

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 $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 Australia's 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, critical dates for the intake of international and domestic students in a research degree in Australia are below. However, some 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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