PhD in Australia for international students

Australia is not just sun, sea and sand. The country is also an epicenter for research and education, the home for several reputable universities and research centers with world-class infrastructures. And for PhD students, studying in Australia represents the chance of a lifetime to conduct worthwhile research and earn a prestigious degree in one of the top study destinations in the world. Here are some essential information if you too consider Australia for your PhD. 

Read our ultimate guide to study abroad in Australia.

Is Australia good for PhD?

There are many reasons to pursue a PhD program in Australia. With the unique research opportunities and cutting-edge facilities the country has to offer, it’s a place to earn a PhD that can really make a difference. 

The other common motivations for international students to choose Australia for their PhD in Australia include: 

  • Reputable research centers and universities with 15 of the leading HEI in the country in the top 250 globally.
  • Interesting funding options from the Australian government or universities. Therefore, students are unlikely to pay the entirety of their PhD fees most of the time. In other words, more time to study and less to worry about study and living costs.
  • The post-study visa: Australia values its PhD holders, and therefore grants them the right to stay to work in Australia for 4 years after graduation.
  • Possibility to not go through the traditional viva (thesis public defense) to assess the doctorate thesis.

Structure of doctoral studies in Australia

A PhD research in Australia has the same structure as a PhD research in most popular study destinations. It usually consists of a pure research where students mainly work on their doctoral thesis.

The PhD program may also include courses units to give students the skills they need to successfully conduct research. Working on your thesis usually starts with a literature review to evaluate the existing data related to your topic.

Next, you’ll work on your research doing source material analysis, collecting survey data, producing experimental results… Lastly, you’ll move on to writing your thesis, summarizing your research findings.

Moreover, PhD students always work with the support of a supervisor, from the application stage to the submission of the doctoral thesis.

Assessment and examination

At the end of their PhD, students would have to submit a thesis of approximately 100,000 words. Some study subjects may require students to provide a practical presentation or project alongside their thesis. 

Unlike in other countries, a PhD in Australia does not require an oral examination or thesis defense. Instead, 2 or 3 experts in the student’s field of study will assess their work. They will then examine the thesis and send a written report to the university in a few months.

Since this step may take several months, it’s possible to agree to a deadline in advance. Moreover, in the rare cases where Australian universities organize a viva voce, the examination usually takes place online (via video conference) instead of a face-to-face interview.

How many years is a PhD in Australia?

There is this one thing about PhDs that it can easily become overwhelming if you don’t fix an end date beforehand. But you should expect to complete a full-time PhD between 3 and 4 years in Australia. 

It can take more time depending on the object of your research and any obstacles you might come up with along the way. Part-time PhD on the other hand may take up to 6 years to complete. 

However, this format usually is not available for international students. In fact, one condition to obtain a student visa in Australia is that you must study full-time.  

What are the requirements to do PhD in Australia for international students?

To apply for a PhD program in Australia, you don’t necessarily need a master’s degree. You just need a first proven experience in conducting research. And a bachelor’s degree usually requires you to complete an extensive research project to graduate.  

Another thing to keep in mind is that admission to Australian universities remains highly competitive. We advise you to read our guide on how to apply to university in Australia to sort out all the steps to go through.

In general, each university sets its own requirements and application process. But you should nonetheless provide your: 

  • CV
  • Academic records
  • Previous degrees certificates
  • ID (a passport)
  • English language proficiency proof (usually IELTS/ TOEFL/PTE scores)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • References (academic and/or professional ones)
  • Statement of purpose / Research proposal

Some universities may wish to interview you for your PhD, that generally takes place online. Make sure then to get ready and make the arrangement via a video-conferencing platform. 

Another crucial step is also to find a PhD supervisor to supervise your research. This person should guide you through all the process, from the application to the thesis submission, so make sure to choose carefully. The right PhD supervisor should be someone who fully understands your research and has appropriate expertise.

Read also our guide on the requirements to study in Australia for international students.

PhD in Australia cost

Tuition fees for a PhD in Australia are relatively higher compared to what apply in other countries. However, thanks to many funding and scholarships available, so there’s a good chance that students won’t have to pay the entirety of the tuition fee.  

The Australian government estimates the cost of an international doctoral degree to be between AUD $20,000 and AUD $50,000 per year. This is the amount you should have available if you apply for a research project without a funding attached. 

But the good news is that many Australian PhD research projects are pre-funded. This is especially the case in majors such as science, engineering, medicine and technology. So if you haven’t yet chosen your project, this might be a way to pay for your PhD at a more affordable cost.  

Fully funded PhD in Australia for international students 

PhD funding in Australia is available through either scholarships from Australian universities or research training program funding. There are also scholarship opportunities from the Australian government. 

Scholarships from universities in Australia 

Promising students have the opportunity to get fully-funded PhD spots at the research universities in Australia. Other institutions such as institutes of technology and private colleges also have PhD programs as well. There are over 100 universities offering PhD degrees in Australia you can choose from. 

Almost all top universities in Australia have a PhD funding. This includes: the Australian National University, the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of New South Wales, Queensland, to name just a few.

Also check out our ranking of the top universities in Australia.

Research training program (RTP)

RTP offers funding for local and international PhD students. The program allows participating universities to give spots to PhD candidates, with eligibility criteria set by the government. Funding may take the form of the payment of a tuition fee, a stipend to support the student’s living cost or allowances to fund a higher degree by research. 

Also learn about the best scholarship programs in Australia.

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