Find your voice. Create a work of original research that grows your expertise and makes a valuable contribution to society. We offer both masters by research and doctoral programs, with a simple step-by-step application process.

Apply for your research degree in seven steps

Join our community of researchers contributing to, and building on, a rich intellectual history. To produce ground-breaking research in the human tradition, apply for a research degree using our step-by-step guide on this page.

Follow these instructions if you want to apply for one of the following degrees:

  • masters by research
  • doctor of philosophy (PhD).

Before you begin, check you’re in the right place

It’s important you know that this guide is for domestic research degree applications only. You’re a domestic student if you’re one of the following:

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

If you’re based overseas and will require an international student visa, you should visit our step-by-step guide for international research applications.

Go to our international research application guide

If you’re looking to apply for a postgraduate coursework degree, such as a graduate certificate, graduate diploma or masters by coursework, you should visit our application page for postgraduate students.

Learn how to apply for a postgraduate coursework degree

1. Choose your course

Choose your preferred research course from the list below and read the individual course descriptions:

Consider a joint doctoral enrolment (Cotutelle)

Get the best of both worlds by studying your doctorate in collaboration with an overseas university through a Cotutelle enrolment.

As a doctoral candidate jointly enrolled at ACU and at least one other institution, you'll broaden your research experience, improve your future research career and help strengthen ties between universities.

Learn more by reading our policy on joint (Cotutelle) doctoral enrolment.

Policy on joint (Cotutelle) doctoral enrolment

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’ll 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.

Find out more about our English 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

Doctor of Education
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.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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).

Master of Education (Research)
You must have the following to be eligible for admission to a Master of Education (Research):

  • a four-year Bachelor of Education degree (or equivalent) with a credit average or higher.

Master of Philosophy
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).

Master of Theology (Research)
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

A core part of the research experience is conducting 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

We don’t want you to miss out. Stay on top of your application by taking note of the application deadline for your course.

View the upcoming application deadlines

5. Complete an application for admission

To begin building your application, download and complete our HDR candidature application form.

This form contains application information for:

  • previous employment, qualifications and research experience
  • your research proposal
  • postgraduate research scholarships
  • English language proficiency requirements
  • referee reports.

Download our domestic application for candidature form (Word 106KB)

International applicants

If you are an international applicant, you will need to complete the international online application form available on our international research page.

Go to our international research student application guide

6. Gather your documents

Once you have completed your application form, make sure you have attached certified copies of all the necessary application and identification documents.

These documents include:

  • certified copies of any higher education study attempted to date, in English
  • a certified copy of your birth certificate, citizenship certificate or passport with any relevant visa pages
  • evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
  • copies of any completed research, such as published articles or book chapters, thesis extracts or research reports, in English).

Certified documents

Any copies of transcripts, birth certificates, citizenship certificates and passports must be certified. A certified copy is a photocopy of an original document that has been “certified” as a true copy.

Documents can be certified by a Justice of the Peace (JP) or an authorised officer such as a public notary who is not related to you.

The officer 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, 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 the remainder of the form and send to the graduate research office by email.

Email the graduate research office

Please note: It’s your responsibility to ensure that your referees return the reports to the graduate research office email address. We won’t consider your application 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 via post or email to the following addresses:

Graduate Research
Australian Catholic University
PO Box 968
North Sydney NSW 2059

Email the graduate research office

What happens next

After you’ve submitted your application, it’s time for us to assess it. Bear with us – there’s a lot to process. You’ll receive confirmation of your application and we’ll let you know the outcome as soon as we can, normally within 8 weeks.

1. If you received an offer

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

2. Explore the research journey

You’ve accepted your offer. Now what? We suggest you get familiar with the different stages of your upcoming candidate journey, from enrolment to graduation. It’s a big journey, but we know you’re ready for it.

Learn more about the candidate journey

3. Check start dates

Hit the research ground running by learning about our four research terms and find your official start date.

View current and upcoming semester, term and trimester dates


Need help? We’re here to assist

You can reach out to us at Candidature Services if you have any questions about the research application process.

Email Candidature Services

Call us on +61 3 9953 3136.


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Apply for the RTP scholarship

Learn about the Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship, including your fees offset, how to apply, and termination and review procedures.

See scholarship

Resources for researchers

Discover what support is available for your research, including guidance on how to get funding and manage a project.

View support

Uni terminology explained

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

View glossary

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