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Postgraduate research entry requirements

To apply, you need to have prior research experience
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Entry to a postgraduate research degree, also called a higher degree by research (HDR), requires completion of a previous degree with a research component.

There are three types of postgraduate research qualification:

  • master’s by research
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Admission is highly competitive. In general, 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, for example, 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).

Entry requirements by degree

Master’s by research/Master of Philosophy

In most cases, to apply for a master’s by research or a Master of Philosophy, you need to have one of the following:

  • 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.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

To apply for a PhD, you need to 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.

The examination needs to show that you are suitably prepared in your chosen field to undertake PhD study. For the examination, we also 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.

You also 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.

All PhD candidates are admitted on a probationary basis for the first four research periods.

Some departments require all potential PhD candidates to enrol in an appropriate master's program, with transfer to the PhD only after at least one year of satisfactory progress.

Specific entry requirements vary, so you should check the exact entry requirements for your degree in Find a course.

For most research programs, you will need to submit a research proposal with your application, so consider carefully the subject of your research, and find out whether your interests align with any academic members of staff. To find out more about the available research projects and supervisors visit Research Supervisor Connect.

Learn more about how to apply for a postgraduate research degree.

Additional requirements

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to have either:

  • successfully completed tertiary studies in which the language of instruction, examination and assessment was English or
  • completed an English proficiency test, with results as required by each course.

Read more about English language requirements.


Download our student guides

Postgraduate Guide 2016 (PDF 1.1MB)  

International Guide 2017 (PDF 2.8MB)  

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