Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a thesis-based research degree that allows you to explore an area of research interest in depth.

It takes a minimum of three years full-time or six years part-time study to complete.

Why do a PhD?

Most PhD candidates are motivated by two factors; professional advancement and intellectual curiosity.

Professional advancement

A PhD is the staring point for a long-term research career either at university or privately funded institutes and organisations.

Professionals who have a PhD in their specialist area greatly increase their immediate and long-term career advancement.

Intellectual curiosity

Driven by a naturally enquiring mind, a candidate can look forward to using all their abilities as individuals or part of a research team to further humanity.

A candidate would have a passionate drive to understand, to discover, solve problems or strive for break-though knowledge and understanding.

Entry requirements

Our minimum admission requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is that you have completed a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree with first or upper second class honours.

You may be eligible if you have passed a qualifying examination at a standard equivalent to the bachelor’s degree with first or upper second class honours. For this qualifying examination, we accept completion of a period of relevant full-time study or part-time advanced study and research towards a master’s degree at the University of Sydney. We require the examination to meet a standard which would satisfy the faculty that you are suitably prepared in your chosen field to undertake PhD study.

Alternatively, if you hold a Masters or Bachelor's Degree and can demonstrate research experience gained through employment which is equivalent to a first or upper second degree honours degree this may be deemed suitable as meeting the entry requirements.

If you do not meet the entry requirements of a PhD, you may be offered entry into our Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree with transfer to the PhD only after completion of that degree program or after at least one year of satisfactory progress.

In addition, the School will need to certify that your proposed research project is appropriate - see application procedures for more information.

Course structure

Commencing: You may start your PhD in March (Semester 1) or July (Semester 2). However, it is advisable that you apply at least two months in advance. For international students, the lead times are longer. The University of Sydney sets closing dates for international applications for all research degrees at 31 October for semester one of the following year, and 30 April for semester 2 of the same year.

Local students can complete their PhD on a full-time or part-time basis. International students can only undertake a PhD on a full-time basis.

Full-time - a minimum of three-years study
Part-time - a minimum of six-years study

For the PhD you must write a thesis on a topic of your choice. During the degree you will work closely with your supervisors who will help you clarify your topic and assess your progress. You are required to give a presentation about your PhD during your first year, and research-in-progress presentations subsequently throughout your degree - see the important information for research students for further information.

Because the PhD is a thesis-based research degree there are no coursework classes to attend. However, you may undertake free-of-charge, any of the School's Masters coursework units that are approved by your supervisor as relevant to your PhD studies, up to a maximum of 12 credit points.

Choosing a topic

You will need to have decided on a basic topic of study before you apply for the PhD, as part of the application procedure is a two-page research proposal. The proposal must include a clearly defined topic, study population and research method. It is also essential to have chosen a basic area of research as you must discuss your proposed research project with an academic member of staff and/or your preferred supervisor before completing your application form.

As the range of topics available within public health is very wide, to help you narrow your topic area down you may like to explore the research interests of our academic staff. As there are currently more than 100 PhD students in the School, you may also wish to explore current students' research topics. There are also existing research opportunities within the School, offering specific topics and projects on which you can complete your PhD.

Support and resources

To support you in you in your research we have extensive facilities. If you are a full-time PhD student the School endeavours to provide you with shared office space with a desk and computer, while part-time students are generally based at their place of employment or work from home. All students are given free email and web access, including links to all University libraries and their databases. You will automatically be subscribed to a postgraduate email list to receive important information about seminars, workshops and courses.

In the Current Students section of this site you can find all the relevant information and resources you will need as a research student in the Sydney School of Public Health.