Join our thriving community of research students who are contributing to human progress in Australia and beyond. We offer both masters by research and PhD doctorates, with a simple step-by-step application process that you can complete entirely online. 

Apply for your research degree in seven steps

Your research journey with us will be different to any other. We encourage informed debate and community engagement, and offer six research institutes and many emerging research strengths.

Apply for a research degree using our step-by-step guide. Follow the instructions on this page if you want to apply for one of the following degrees:

  • Masters by research
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Confirm your applicant status and study

Before you begin, it’s important to confirm that you’re an international applicant and that a research degree is the right study for you. 

Am I domestic or international?

You are an international applicant if you will need an international student visa to study in Australia. You are a domestic student if you are one of the following: 

  • Australian citizen
  • Australian permanent resident
  • Australian permanent humanitarian visa holder
  • New Zealand citizen.  

If you’re a domestic student, you should visit our step-by-step guide for domestic research applications and follow those instructions.

Go to domestic research application guide

Is research or coursework right for me?

A research degree is a masters or doctorate that is mostly made up of researching and writing a single thesis. We also offer postgraduate degrees made up of different units and classes, however these are known as postgraduate coursework degrees.

If you are an international applicant looking to apply for a postgraduate coursework degree, such as a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma or Masters by coursework, you should visit our international application page for postgraduate students.

1. Choose your course

Choose your preferred research course from the list below. You can find out more about each course by visiting their individual pages:

2. Check your eligibility

To be eligible for admission to one of our research courses, you need to meet the entry requirements.

Please note: even if you do meet the requirements, admission is not guaranteed. Other parts of your application that we will take into consideration include:

  • Your potential to undertake research
  • The quality and feasibility of your research proposal
  • The availability of appropriate supervision
  • Your referee reports. 

To learn more about how we will assess your application, visit the ACU Handbook

English language proficiency

You may need to demonstrate your English language proficiency if:

  • English is not your first language
  • you did not attend university in English and in an approved English-speaking country.

You can prove your English proficiency by providing us with evidence of your previous studies or qualifications, or by achieving a certain score in a relevant English language test. 

See Higher Degree Research Regulations for details of the English Language proficiency requirements

Entry requirements by degree

You can check your eligibility for your chosen research course by viewing its individual entry requirements.

These requirements are also listed in the ACU Handbook. To read more, visit the Higher Degree Research Regulations handbook page.

You must have the following to be eligible for admission to a Doctor of Education program:

  • a masters degree in education (or equivalent), with a credit average or higher, and
  • at least five years’ relevant work experience.

You must have one of the following to be eligible for admission to a PhD:

  • an appropriate undergraduate degree with honours at a minimum level of Second Class Division A (Distinction average) (or equivalent)
  • a masters degree with appropriate research training in a relevant field
  • an equivalent qualification and/or demonstrated research experience, with evidence of capacity to undertake independent research work (eg, an authored publication).

You must have one of the following to be eligible for admission to a Master of Philosophy:

  • an appropriate undergraduate degree with honours at a minimum level of Second Class Division A (Distinction average)
  • postgraduate research training (eg, coursework completed to distinction level or higher or a masters-by-coursework degree)
  • demonstrated research experience with evidence of capacity to undertake independent research work (eg, an authored publication).

You must have either of the following to be eligible for admission to a Master of Philosophy:

  • an undergraduate degree in theology (or equivalent) with honours at a minimum level of Second Class Division A
  • a Master of Theological Studies with a distinction average or higher in THEL623 Theology Project C and THEL619 Introduction to Theological and Philosophical Research (or equivalent), and
  • a specialisation in one of the theological disciplines, or philosophy as it relates to theology.

3. Find a supervisor

You will need to conduct your research under the supervision of a fully accredited principal supervisor. 

You should find a suitable supervisor for your project before you submit your application.

Find a supervisor using our database

4. View closing dates

Make sure you get your application to us before the due date. Plan ahead by taking note of the application deadline for your course. 

If you are applying for candidature and a stipend scholarship, refer to the application deadline listed on the research scholarships page.

Applications for candidature only can be submitted at any time. Applicants are strongly encourage to submit by 17th October 2019 for Research Term A 2020 commencement, and by 20th April 2020 for Research Term C 2020 commencement.

5. Start an application for admission

To begin the application process, register at our online application system and begin filling out an application for admission.

You will need to supply your name and an email address. Please use an email address you check regularly. 

Start your application now

Write a research proposal

You will also need to write a research proposal as part of your research application.Applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy, and Master of Philosophy must complete a 2000-word research proposal detailing:

  • description of research problem
  • aims, theoretical background and hypotheses/research questions
  • methodology and approach
  • timeline
  • resources required to conduct the research
  • relevant bibliography/referencing section (this must be included).

Applicants for the Master of Education (Research), and Master of Theology (Research) must complete a 250- to 500-word research proposal, detailing:

  • description of research problem
  • proposed methodology
  • resources required to conduct the research
  • relevant bibliography/referencing section (this must be included).

6. Prepare your documents

You will need to gather certified copies of all the necessary documents for your application. 

These documents include:

  • completed research proposal
  • academic qualifications (transcripts and completion certificates)
  • passport
  • evidence of English proficiency
  • any other documents which can support your application, such as copies of prior research, awards or work experience.

Copies of these documents will need to be certified and signed by an approved official such as a Justice of the Peace. A certified copy is a photocopy of an original document that has been “certified” as a true copy. 

The official must include his/her professional registration number (if applicable) when certifying your documents.

Organise your confidential referee reports

You must also provide two referee reports with your application. 

To do this, approach two referees and ask them to complete a confidential referee report. 

Next, download our referee report template and complete Section 1. 

Download our referee report template (Word 93KB)

Once you’ve done that, forward the form to your referees for them to complete and send to the international admissions office by email.

Email the international admissions office

Please note: You are responsible for ensuring that your referees return the reports to the international admissions office email address. Your application will not be considered until two referee reports have been received.

7. Apply

When you have completed everything in your application (and rechecked everything to be sure), you can submit it through any of the following methods:

Please note: You must submit your application form to us with a research proposal attached. It will be considered an incomplete application if your proposal isn’t attached, and may be delayed or rejected.

Next steps

After you’ve submitted your application, you will get confirmation that we have received it and will begin processing it. We will let you know the outcome as soon as we can

1. If you receive an offer

Congratulations on receiving your research offer. You can respond to your offer by accepting, deferring or declining.

Read how to respond to your offer <Link to 2.8 Responding to an offer>

2. Learn about the research journey

After you have accepted your offer, we suggest you learn about your research journey, including enrolment, confirmation, milestone updates and graduation.

Learn more about the candidate journey

3. Check start dates

Our research students have a different calendar to other students. Find out about our four research terms and see when your official start date is.

View current and upcoming semester, term and trimester dates

Need help? We are here to assist

Contact our international student support team if you have any questions about your application to study at ACU. We can also answer your enquiries about arriving, living and studying in Australia.

Contact the friendly team at international student support

University terminology explained

Unsure what some of these words mean? We’ve put together a glossary to explain our technical terms in plain English.

Read our glossary


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