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Beginning a research degree

Before embarking on what is likely to be the most rewarding and challenging period of your study career, you are certain to have questions.  Below you'll find answers to some of those questions.

What degrees are on offer?

What do I have to do to finish?

  • You will submit a substantial piece of work based on research that represents a significant new contribution to your discipline. 
  • This work may take the form of a traditional thesis, a thesis incorporating creative production or a portfolio of published works.
  • A PhD thesis is typically 80 000 to 100 000 words in length.
  • Professional Doctorate and Masters by Research theses are usually shorter - please refer to your course description for details.
  • For more information, refer to the HDR Academic Milestones.

How long will it take?

  • A PhD or Professional Doctorate student is expected to submit their thesis for examination within 3 years of commencing the doctoral program. 
  • A Masters by Research student is expected to submit their thesis for examination within 20 months of commencing the course.

What form will my supervision take?

You will undertake your research under the supervision of a panel of at least 2 academics who have expertise in an area relevant to your project.

Each student should have a chair of their supervisory panel (the primary supervisor) as well as a secondary supervisor. The Chair of the panel will help you with:

  • guidance about the nature of research and research integrity
  • the requirements of the degree
  • standards expected for the thesis submission
  • your choice of research topic
  • planning of the project timeline and requirements for candidature milestones.

If we don't answer your questions on research admission here, please get in touch with our HDR Support team.

What are the prerequisites?

  • Usually, people who start a higher degree by research with us will have an Australian Bachelor's degree with Honours, or a Research Master's degree. 
  • Other acceptable qualifications include a postgraduate qualification of at least one year of full-time equivalent study with a significant research component, or relevant research experience.

What should I include in my research proposal?

At the point of application your research proposal should be no more than two pages long. It should set out the research question or hypothesis that you will examine, the research methodologies or approaches that you will apply, and the anticipated resources required for the project to be viable.

What should I include in my academic CV?

An academic CV should include information regarding the following:

  • Personal details - Include your full name and contact details. 
  • Educational qualifications and professional affiliations.  Include the full title of the qualification, the institution attended, and the year awarded.
  • Employment history - In chronological order, starting with your current position and specifying dates of employment; include the title of each position, name of employer, main duties or accountabilities, and achievements that are relevant to your proposed field of research.
  • Research publications - Include articles published or accepted for publication (with the 3 most significant marked with an asterisk).  Please specify the publication details, your contribution as an author to multi-authored publications, plus the standing of the journal or conference.
  • The name and complete contact details of two academic referees. If possible, please include a senior person closely associated with your current or most recent study or research, if any.

What documents do I need?

Domestic students are supported by the government through the Research Training Scheme, which covers your tuition fees.  We will need to see proof of citizenship, usually your birth certificate, to verify you meet the guidelines.

You can get your documents validated by:

  • an official of an Australian overseas diplomatic mission or Australian education centre
  • a Justice of the Peace with a registration number
  • a solicitor, a practising accountant or a bank manager
  • a police officer in charge of a police station of the rank of sergeant or above
  • a postal manager
  • a principal of an Australian secondary college, high school or primary school; or
  • an international officer through which an applicant is applying.

What will it cost?

If you are a domestic research student you will be automatically awarded a Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset Scholarship which will offset the tuition fees you otherwise would have been liable for. The RTP Fee Offset Scholarship will cover your fees for a period of four years (equivalent full-time load).

There are fees for international research students

Can I study part time?

Domestic students may enrol part time, but there are some conditions for international students and domestic students who hold a stipend scholarship (refer to your scholarship conditions of award for more information).

International students who hold a student visa are not eligible for part-time enrolment.  Only international students who are studying off shore, or who hold an alternative visa, may be eligible to enrol part time.

Can I defer my offer?

To defer your offer from the start date up until 6 months, you will need to contact the HDR Support team and state your deferral date.

Can I change my course?

You will need to contact the HDR Support team with the details of what you have applied for and what you wish to change to.  You will need to submit a new Research Degree Admission Application Form and research proposal to reflect the new area of research that you wish to undertake.

Can I transfer universities?

To transfer to the University of Canberra, you will need to submit a full application and supply information relating to your current candidature.  This is especially important for domestic candidates as we need to calculate your remaining Research Training Program (RTP) entitlement for the purposes of tuition fee offset.

What are the English requirements?

For English language proficiency requirements of Higher Degrees by research please refer to the entry requirements.

Can I conduct research in my home country?

You will need to contact the faculty or research institute in which you intend to study before submitting an application.  The faculty or research institute will need to determine if they have the required resources to supervise you while overseas.  It is a general rule that students who are offshore must attend on campus for at least six months (not necessarily continuously) throughout the degree.