Written by Maree Perkins
With plenty of funding options, golden beaches, and a generous post-study visa, it’s easy to see why Australia is a popular destination to complete a PhD.
Australian PhD funding takes the form of government and university scholarships, and there are plenty for you to get your hands on.
This guide highlights some of the funding options for your PhD in Australia, as well as fees, living costs and other expenses.
Australia PhD funding – what you need to know first
Australia is renowned for its world class education. With 21 universities in the top 300 according to the 2023 Times Higher Education Rankings, you’re in good hands. Australia is popular because of its English-speaking programmes, amazing natural backdrop and unique study opportunities (casual marine biology dive in the Great Barrier Reef anyone?) But it is a more expensive option (both in terms of fees and living costs). Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing your research:
- Australia loves international students! There are almost half a million students from 192 countries there. And they’ve simplified their visa process so there’s only one option!
- Doctoral fees are higher for international students because Australian students enjoy a state subsidy.
- There are lots of scholarships available for international students, from universities and the government, so research all your options.
Take a look at our PhD study in Australia guide, if you haven’t already. This gives an overview of everything to take into account when considering studying in Australia – not just the funding.
The cost of a PhD in Australia
Studying a PhD in Australia can be a little bit more expensive than other places. But you get what you pay for: world-class research centres, internationally ranked universities and all the sun, sea and sand your heart could desire! You can also work up to 40 hours over a two week period, and unlimited hours during holiday periods. So, let’s look at what this sun-soaked destination is actually going to cost you.
As an international student in Australia you'll pay fees at a higher rate. The Australian government estimates that typical international PhD fees are between AUD $20,000-50,000 (USD $13,470-33,670) per year. This is what you can expect to pay if your project doesn’t have funding attached or you’re proposing your own topic.
But, there's a good chance that you won't pay the full fees because of the funding on offer. Many Australian PhDs will also be advertised as pre-funded projects, especially for Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM) topics.
There is a high standard of living in Australia, but with that comes a higher than average cost of living. According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Australia is (on average) 5.17% higher than in United States. This doesn’t include rent which is on average cheaper. It will also depend on where in Australia you want to live and the sort of lifestyle you want to have.
The Australian Government estimates that students will need at least AUD $21,041 (USD $14,140) for each year of their course. This is the amount of money you will need to have available to apply for a student visa.
See our guide to living in Australia during a PhD for more advice.
As an international student, you (and anyone you bring with you) will need health insurance to cover the duration of your stay. There are various providers you can choose from, but you need to make sure they meet the standards set by Australia's Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) guidelines.
There are student offers so shop around for the best deal. A quick quote from ahm OSHC for a single person for a year came back with AUD $850 (USD $580). Your university can help you decide which insurance policy is best for you.
You’ll also need to apply for a visa. Australia now only offers one visa for international students: the Student Visa (subclass 500). The standard cost is AUD $650 (USD $440). You may have to pay extra if you’re bringing people with you, but you can use the Australian Government searchable visa cost database to help.
You can use the Australian Government’s scholarships search tool to find out what scholarships you may be eligible for. Here are a couple of the main ones to consider as an international student:
The aim of the Australia Awards is to boost opportunities for students from partner countries to study, research and develop professionally in Australia. The Awards combine scholarships from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), the Department of Education and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
The Destination Australia Program (DAP) is an Australian Government program valued at up to AUD $15,000 (USD $10,300) per student, per year. As a PhD student, you can access these scholarships for up to four years.
Research Training Program (RTP) scholarships
The Research Training Program at the Department of Education is a pool of funding that can help offset your tuition fees, act as a stipend to help with living costs, or be an allowance to help with costs such as relocation, publications and health cover. Applications for these scholarships are made directly to a participating university.
Coming from the UK
To encourage UK students to study in Australia, as well as government and university funding options, there is also the The Northcote Postgraduate Scholarship which is awarded by the Northcote Trust, and administered on the Trust's behalf by the Britain-Australia Society.
Institute and university scholarships
A lot of Australian universities offer scholarships based on academic performance. It’s worth checking with the admissions team or international office at your university before applying to see what you might be eligible for.
You could also go directly to the international postgraduate scholarship section on your university’s website. We’ve pulled the links of some of the top universities in Australia so you can easily browse their PhD scholarships:
There may also be specific funding from institutes who have partnerships with certain member universities. The Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE), for example, has a Postgraduate Research Award of AUD$8,250 (USD $5,700) per year. The Award also provides travel and accommodation support for conferences and field work.
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Last Updated: 06 December 2022