Research degrees (MPhil, MRes & PhD)

Australian and New Zealand universities welcome applications from qualified international research candidates.

The process of applying for a PhD or a masters by research in Australia and New Zealand is very different to that of applying for a taught (coursework) programme.

There are two options for applying for research programmes (PhD or a Masters by Research) at a university in either Australia or New Zealand. 

1. Look for an existing research project that you can apply to join as a PhD student. You can search the database of available projects by following the link below.

2. Apply independently. 

Applying independently

You will need to establish contact with a potential academic supervisor and get provisional approval for your research proposal. This will mean identifying the institutions and academics working in the area that you intend to research, and making direct contact with relevant individuals to discuss your work. When you approach academic members of staff, we recommend you communicate your research ideas in a concise but well thought through manner – academic staff receive a lot of similar requests and are only likely to respond positively to ones that demonstrate commitment and ability.

Your research proposal does not need to be finished, or even particularly detailed, but it does need to contain enough information to allow the university to decide whether or not your proposed research is something that they have the resources to supervise and interest in hosting.

Study Options can advise you on which universities have expertise in the field that you want to research. We can also assist with locating relevant departments and with contacting academic staff. If you would like our help with this, please email us a detailed copy of your research proposal and your CV. Please along with any criteria or preferences that you have (for example, any university or location preferences, or particular fieldwork or facility requirements).

Once you have provisional support for your application from an individual academic or from a university department please contact Study Options so that we can assist with the formal admissions process.

Research applications submitted via Study Options are fast tracked through university assessment procedures and are exempt from application fees. 

Funding for research students

Most universities concentrate their international student scholarships on research students so there are usually several options available. There are also general scholarships available for research students in both Australia and New Zealand. The Costs And Practicalities section of this site contains information about financing your study in Australia or New Zealand and where to look for scholarships.

Please note that international PhD students in New Zealand are only required to local tuition fees, rather than full international tuition fee rates. This is a New Zealand Government policy, designed to attract talented researchers to the country. 

Finding a supervisor

Establishing contact with a potential supervisor can be a time-consuming and often frustrating process, but it is extremely important and worth investing both time and effort in. PhD applications, in particular, are often assessed by a committee of academics – your supervisor is the person who can champion your application through this and other Faculty processes. They are also often great sources of information regarding scholarships and funding and may well be able to tell you about scholarship options that other people within the University are not widely aware of.

As a start point, please look at the university profiles here to begin working out which universities you might like to consider approaching with your research proposal. Many Australian and New Zealand universities provide a facility on their website that enables students to search for suitable supervisors among their research staff. These search functions are all available from the individual university guideline pages, below. 

Once you have established contact with a potential supervisor, the team at Study Options can help you fully with your application forms, document certification and visa applications – please contact us for free assistance when you are ready. Please note that it is essential that you nominate Study Options as your ‘agent’ or ‘representative’ when you make your application – either via the online system or as hard copy. In some cases this nomination requires a representative code – contact Study Options to get this. 

If you do not nominate Study Options during your application we cannot provide any of the free support services listed above. If you have any questions about Study Options and how we work with you on your application, please contact us to discuss. 

University-specific guidelines

All universities have individual, slightly different, application procedures for research applications. Please find below university-specific instructions for making a research application. 

How do I decide where to study?

Reading through the university profiles will help you to get an idea of which research areas are on offer at each university.  You can also conduct your own more detailed research using the university websites.  This article contains some useful tips on how to choose and approach a supervisor.

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