A degree in research is also called a ‘higher degree by research’ (HDR) and can include the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Masters by Research/Master of Philosophy (MPhil).
Follow these steps to apply for a research degree as a domestic or international research student.
Choose your course
We encourage you to apply well ahead of time; even before completion of your current qualifying degree. In these circumstances, referee reports are essential as part of the application for admission.
Find a course that matches your interests by searching below.
Financial Coverage and Benefits of University of Sydney Scholarships
- Tuition fees
- Additional course costs
- Student Services and Amenities Fee
- Overseas student health cover
- living costs of at least $20,290 Australian dollars per year
To be eligible for admission to a postgraduate research degree, you need to have undertaken a significant research project or thesis in your previous university-level studies.
This could be the equivalent of an Australian honours degree, or a master’s by research degree, or a master’s by coursework with a thesis component (dissertation). You will need to pass health and security checks if your research involves fieldwork in the New South Wales hospital and education systems. The course page details explain what admission criteria you need to satisfy to get into the course.
You may also need to apply for approval from the Human Research Ethics Committee.
Master’s by research / Master of Philosophy
- a bachelor’s degree with first or second-class honours from the University of Sydney or another approved institution
- an equivalent qualification that demonstrates sufficient research experience and capability.
To apply for a PhD, you need to demonstrate sufficient prior research experience and capability. In most cases, you will have either:
- a bachelor’s degree with first or upper second class honours or
- a master’s degree performed at a high academic standard, and which includes a substantial component of research
- an equivalent qualification that demonstrates research experience, excellence and capability.
These are the minimum requirements for eligibility but they do not guarantee admission. That remains at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Higher Degree by Research) for the faculty.
Professional Doctorates are offered in certain faculties at the University of Sydney. In most cases, to be eligible for admission to a Professional Doctorate you must have either:
- completed a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree with first or upper second class honours, or
- passed a qualifying examination at a standard equivalent to the bachelor’s degree, with first or upper second class honours.
You must demonstrate recent, full-time employment or professional experience in a relevant field. Finally, you need to provide evidence to show that:
- your planned research is appropriate and acceptable
- you have the necessary training and ability to pursue your preferred course of study and research
- you have secured a suitable supervisor for your project, and have access to appropriate resources and facilities to be able to complete your proposed research.
Develop your research proposal
Carefully consider the subject of your research and find out if your interests align with any academic members of staff. At this point, you need to develop an initial research proposal. While this initial proposal will probably not fully capture all the details of your final project, it is important to think seriously about it, clearly explaining your ideas about your research. It should not be a generic or vague proposal but should actively seek to show why your research is noteworthy and how it aligns with your proposed supervisor’s own work.
Check out these guidelines on how to write a research proposal for a strong Ph.D. application.
Find a supervisor
Before you can make a formal application to the University, you’ll usually need a staff member who has agreed to act as your supervisor for the duration of your degree.
To help you in your search, our faculty and research center websites are good places to start. You can also explore our Research and Innovation website where you can search for supervisors and projects by discipline, keywords, and research themes.
To support your inquiry, send an email describing your academic background and research experience, the topic you’d like to research and how your research project aligns with the work of your proposed supervisor. You should also include your resume/CV, academic transcripts for all degrees and your initial research proposal (see step 4 above).
For law, you will need to submit an Expression of Interest directly to the school, while for research degrees in the Business School you’ll need to follow a slightly different application process.
Refer to your course at the University course search for full details.
- Final research proposal. In conjunction with your supervisor, you’ll finalize your research proposal of up to 2000 words, covering the objectives and significance of your research. Refer to our Research Proposal Guidelines (pdf, 68.77KB).
- Official academic transcripts in the original language and English translation.
- English language qualifications if English is not your first language.
- Curriculum Vitae or resume.
- Evidence that a primary supervisor has agreed to supervise you. This could be a copy of the email correspondence showing the staff member’s agreement to supervise you. The Sydney Law School requires your EOI as evidence. The Business School does not require potential students to identify a supervisor before submitting an application. Sydney College of the Arts doesn’t require evidence of supervision, however, you must submit a portfolio with your application. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music may require you to attend an interview.
- Domestic students will need a passport or birth certificate or citizenship certificate.
- Part-time statement if applying for part-time study (domestic). This needs to show that:
- you’ll have sufficient time available to carry out the research under the supervision of the University and complete the course within the maximum period allowed for a part-time Ph.D. enrolment
- a declaration from your employer (if relevant) confirming that you will be permitted to take the time required to effectively pursue your studies.
- Two referee report (pdf, 113.97KB)
- Any other documents, such as a portfolio of work or audition, specified in the course listing for your degree.
For International Students
If you are an international student, you will also need:
- A student visa
- To pay an initial tuition fee before you accept your offer
- To pay a non-refundable application processing fee of A$125. This fee is waived if you’re a sponsored student, or if you are granted an exemption by a University staff member during an office interview or recruitment event. If you would like to apply through an authorized University of Sydney agent, we have partnered with a range of authorized agents who can apply to the University and make arrangements on your behalf.
Submit your application online
You can submit a direct online application to the University of Sydney through the University course search. You can save and return to your application, upload documentation, and formally accept an offer if your application is successful.
Many faculties accept applications all year round and multiple research periods each year when you can start the study with us.
We recommend that you apply at least six to eight weeks prior to the start date to allow adequate time for processing and, if necessary, your visa application. You can start your study in any of the research periods as long as your faculty offers it. Check the course details page to find the starting research period for your degree.
If you don’t know the results of your first degree, you should still submit your application, and supply the results as soon as you receive them.
Research period 1
1 January – 28 February. Enroll between mid-November and 31 January. Commence no later than the census date: 31 January.
Research period 2
1 March – 30 June. Enroll between 1 February and 31 March. Commence no later than the census date: 31 March.
Research period 3
1 July – 30 September. Enroll between 1 April – 31 August. Commence no later than the census date: 31 August.
Research period 4
1 October – 31 December. Enroll between 1 September – 31 October. Commence no later than the census date: 31 October.
Start your application from the Course details page by clicking ‘Apply’ on the top right of the page.