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Postgraduate research admission criteria

To apply, you need to have prior research experience

Admission to a postgraduate research degree, also called a higher degree by research (HDR), requires completion of a previous degree with a substantial component of original research.

There are three types of postgraduate research qualification:

  • Masters degree by research and Master of Philosophy
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Professional Doctorate

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).

Admission criteria by degree

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.

Search for your degree to check the specific admission criteria for your course.

Eligible candidates are encouraged to apply in plenty of time, even before completion of your current qualifying degree. In these circumstances, referee reports are essential as part of the application for admission.

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 criteria constitute the minimum requirements for eligibility and do not guarantee admission. That remains at the discretion of the Associate Dean (HDR) for the given faculty.

Please refer to the University's HDR Rule document for full policy details.

Search for your degree to check the specific admission criteria for your course.

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 also:

  • demonstrate recent, full-time employment or professional experience in a relevant field.

Addtitionally, 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.

Admission criteria vary, so please check the course requirements for your degree at Find a Course.

Search for your degree to check the specific admission criteria for your course.

Specific admission criteria vary, so you should check the exact admission criteria 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

International Guide 2018 (PDF 8.3MB)

For students applying for Semester 2 2018 admission.

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