Applying for a PhD in Australia
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Applying for a PhD in Australia

Written by Sarah Hastings-Woodhouse

The first step in your Australian PhD application should be to contact a prospective supervisor. Universities will not normally consider applications from international students who haven't done this.

The person you choose should be:

  • the lead researcher for a project or research group you wish to join, or
  • an academic with research interests related to the topic you would like to propose.

Once you're found a potential supervisor, you should contact them via email. Try to provide a clear and concise description of your project or interests - and make the relationship to their research obvious.

Once you have an expression of interest from a potential supervisor, you can begin your formal application to the university.

Choosing a PhD supervisor

Not sure how to pick a potential supervisor for your PhD, or how to approach them once you have? Our guide can help.

Entry requirements

You'll normally need a Bachelors and Masters degree in a relevant subject to apply for a PhD in Australia. Universities may admit you without a Masters, but this is less likely.

Individual universities will set their own requirements and application process, but you can expect to submit some or all of the following:

  • Evidence of your previous qualifications (these may need to be certified by your previous university or universities)
  • A research proposal (if you are putting forward your own PhD topic)
  • A personal statement (this may be required for applications to advertised projects and opportunities)
  • Academic and / or professional references

If you are applying from the UK or Ireland you can use the free Study Options service to receive advice and guidance during your application.


It's possible that an Australian university may wish to interview you for a PhD. This is usually a good sign. It means your application is strong and your prospective supervisor thinks you have potential.

Don't worry though - universities won't expect international students to travel all the way to Australia just for an interview. They'll normally be happy to arrange a chat via a video-conferencing platform.

For ticks and tricks on acing your PhD interview, check out our blog from PhD student Isabel, who has experience of being both interviewer and interviewee!

What's happens during a PhD interview?

Your interview for a PhD in Australia will follow a fairly standard format (even if the actual process takes place online). Our guides explain what happens at a PhD interview and look at some of the questions you might be asked.

Application deadlines

A PhD in Australia can start at any point in the academic year. This means that there isn't normally a strict deadline for applications. Universities may prefer you to submit in time for the start of a term, but this isn't always the case.

Exceptions could apply if you are also applying for funding, such as a scholarship. This support will normally run for a specific period and funders may prefer you to start at the beginning of an academic year or term.

Remember that, even if there isn't a deadline, your application will still take time. As a general rule, you should apply at least four months before you hope to start your PhD.

For advice covering everything from writing your research proposal to choosing references, have a browse of our guides on applying for a PhD.

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Last Updated: 02 November 2023