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)
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).
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.
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:
Australian Catholic University
PO Box 968
North Sydney NSW 2059
Email the graduate research office