Follow these steps to apply for a research degree as a domestic or international research student.
Go to the University course search and find a research course that suits your interests. 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.
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.
In most cases, to apply for a master’s by research or a Master of Philosophy, you need to have one of the following:
To apply for a PhD, you need to demonstrate sufficient prior research experience and capability. In most cases, you will have either:
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.
Please refer to the University's HDR Rule (pdf, 951.02KB) for full policy details.
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:
You must demonstrate recent, full-time employment or professional experience in a relevant field. Finally, you need to provide evidence to show that:
The course details page should provide information about the fees you will need to pay. Check these carefully and also read our general information on fees and financial support.
We have one of the largest research scholarships schemes in Australia. Scholarships can be a big help in funding your research or helping you with living costs while you do your research. Some scholarships are specific to a research project or discipline, and many are assessed on academic merit and research potential. Search for a scholarship.
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 PhD application.
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 centre 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 enquiry, 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 University course search for full details.
When you have secured a supervisor, you will discuss and refine the project together. Once your research proposal is finalised, gather all the essential documents that you will need to submit with your application:
If you are an international student, you will also need:
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 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.
1 January - 28 February. Enrol between mid November and 31 January. Commence no later than the census date: 31 January.
1 March - 30 June. Enrol between 1 February and 31 March. Commence no later than the census date: 31 March.
1 July - 30 September. Enrol between 1 April - 31 August. Commence no later than the census date: 31 August.
1 October - 31 December. Enrol 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.
What's expected from your higher degree research application?