Victoria University is rising to the challenge to make place-based planetary health part of our identity and moral purpose. Planetary health is an interdisciplinary activity focused on finding solutions to the complex challenges impacting our planet and the health of country, environment, communities and people. We recognise that the wellbeing of all depends upon the wellbeing of the planet.

Our world-leading researchers are available to supervise graduate students on their way to becoming the next generation of research-qualified professionals. Undertaking a research degree at VU is a great way to enhance your career. You'll develop advanced skills in research, critical thinking and problem-solving. VU's completion rates are among the highest in Australia – and our graduate researchers value the expert supervision and training they receive.

We are committed to an indigenous research agenda of pursuing social justice outcomes through research within a framework of decolonisation. We work to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, wellbeing and empowerment through research. Specific areas of research include:

  • self-determination
  • displacement and identity
  • international activist connections
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge
  • climate change.

When to apply

Applications open

We are currently accepting applications for admission for the Semester 1, 2021 intake with applications closing as per the dates below. Applications for Semester 2, 2020 have now closed.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is anticipated that all aspects of the course (supervision, coursework and researcher professional programs) will be delivered online, until government guidelines for social distancing are relaxed.

You can apply for a research degree at any time throughout the year. Offers are made for the next available semester depending on your application date.

Application for admission closing dates for Semester 1, 2021 are as follows:

  • Australian residents (all domestic students, including Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents, New Zealand citizens and holders of permanent Australian humanitarian visas): 31 October 2020.
  • International students: 30 September 2020.

Once you submit your application, it may take up to 6 weeks to receive an outcome as VU Research must determine supervision availability and that your research is aligned to one or more of our research focus areas.

How to apply for a research degree

You must contact a supervisor and receive an in principle approval from that supervisor before you submit your application. Step 3 has more details on the process of contacting a prospective supervisor.

International students

  • Masters by Research: Build on skills and knowledge from your undergraduate degree.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and PhD (Integrated): There are two possible pathways to a PhD at VU, the standard pathway PhD and the alternative pathway PhD (Integrated), to conduct research that leads to new knowledge or re-interprets existing ideas, theories and approaches.

Domestic students

We offer three Master of Research courses with varying durations and coursework requirements. Your area's research institute will decide which course is the best match for your current qualifications and discipline background. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) courses have an 'Integrated' option to pathway into PhD study.

The Institute for Health & Sport specialises in sport, business, medical, social and policy research:

The Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities incorporates a broad range of disciplines, including arts, education, engineering, law, science and economics:

You will need to meet the minimum academic entry requirements for admission. You will also need to demonstrate a capacity to undertake significant research in your chosen field.

If your previous qualifications are from an overseas institution, your application will be assessed for equivalence to Australian Higher Education Degrees.

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) eligibility

Assess your HDR eligibility with our online self-assessment tool.

Field of Research (FoR) code

Before you submit your application, you are required to nominate a priority FoR which most closely aligns with your area of research. You may only select one code from the following list:

  • 0102 – Applied Mathematics
  • 0601 – Biochemistry & Cell Biology
  • 0602 – Ecology
  • 0801 – Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing
  • 0805 – Distributed Computing
  • 0806 – Information Systems
  • 0904 – Chemical Engineering
  • 0905 – Civil Engineering
  • 0906 – Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • 0908 – Food Sciences
  • 0913 – Mechanical Engineering
  • 1106 – Human Movement and Sports Science
  • 1107 – Immunology
  • 1110 – Nursing
  • 1116 – Medical Physiology
  • 1117 – Public Health and Health Services
  • 1301– Education Systems
  • 1302 – Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 1303 – Specialist Studies in Education
  • 1402 – Applied Economics
  • 1503 – Business and Management
  • 1506 – Tourism
  • 1602 – Criminology
  • 1608 – Sociology
  • 1701 – Psychology
  • 1801 – Law
  • 2002 – Cultural Studies
  • 2103 – Historical Studies

Applicants must include the FoR code in their research proposal (Step 4: Prepare your research proposal).

Identifying a supervisor

Supervisors are active researchers working within VU's institutes and research centres. They provide guidance and support throughout your research.

It is important to identify a supervisor that shares an interest in your research topic.

Refer to the find a researcher webpage to search for a supervisor and their contact details.

You must contact a supervisor and receive in principle approval for your research project. In order to submit evidence of this approval, you will need to include the completed ‘Prospective Supervisor’ form when you apply for a research degree. Please note the following information before lodging your application:

  • if you do not submit the Prospective Supervisor form, your application will not be considered
  • the Institute makes final determination and approval for appropriate supervision for the proposed research
  • you must provide a Field of Research Code or your application will not be considered
  • you will need to meet the minimum academic entry requirements for admission - previous qualifications from overseas institutions will be assessed for equivalence to Australian higher education degrees
  • you must meet the English Language Requirements.

The admissions team does not provide assistance to applicants seeking a supervisor.

All graduate research applicants are required to prepare a research proposal for submission. Your research proposal should be 1-2 pages (typed, A4), and include the:

  • Nominated Field of Research code
  • title of your research proposal
  • name and Institute of your nominated supervisor (on the title page)
  • aims and field of research
  • significance of the research
  • methodology and research techniques
  • facilities and equipment required.

This initial proposal gives us an understanding of your research interests. Study in the early stages of your research degree may lead to changes. In some cases, your supervisor(s) may suggest a project linked with both of your interests.

Australian residents

Submit your application by email to [email protected].

You must include:

  • your completed A125 application form
  • academic transcripts
  • qualification certificates
  • research proposal – including supervisor's name and priority FoR (as above)
  • 200-word personal statement – include your reasons for wanting to undertake this research, and your academic path or trajectory
  • up-to-date CV
  • two written academic references – letters from previous lecturers or supervisors, including their titles, institutions and contact details (no template available)
  • evidence of correspondence with VU registered academics – in which you seek in-principal support of supervision (include any responses) (the signed Prospective Supervisor form).

If your application is successful, you will receive a formal Letter of Offer sent via email by the Office for Researcher Training, Quality and Integrity. All domestic research applicants will be considered for an Australian government funded place under the Research Training Program (RTP). Please then proceed to Step 6.

International applicants

Submit your application through Victoria University International.

As part of our admissions guidelines for all applicants, we ask that you contact a supervisor and receive an in principle approval from that supervisor before you submit your application.

In order to submit evidence of this approval, you will need to include the ‘Prospective Supervisor’ form when you first contact a supervisor.

You will also need to supply the following when you apply:

  • academic transcripts
  • qualification certificates
  • research proposal – including supervisor's name and priority FoR (as above)
  • 200-word personal statement – include your reasons for wanting to undertake this research, and your academic path or trajectory
  • up-to-date CV
  • two written academic references – letters from previous lecturers or supervisors, including their titles, institutions and contact details (no template available)
  • evidence of correspondence with VU registered academics – in which you seek in-principal support of supervision (include any responses).

If your application is successful, you will receive a formal Letter of Offer sent by VU International. Please then proceed to Step 6.

Please be aware of the relevant deadlines for off-shore and on-shore applications.

Admission with Advanced Candidature

If you are currently enrolled in a higher degree by research with another institution, and would like to transfer to VU, you may be eligible for admission with advanced candidature. See more information on applying for advanced candidature.

Applicants must upload the advanced candidature supervisor form, completed by their prospective supervisor, as part of their application for admission. Applications will not be considered if this is incomplete or not submitted as part of the application process.

Domestic applicants for a semester 2, 2020 place will be notified of the outcome by end of June 2020.

Acceptances for a direct entry must be received as per the letter of offer by close of business 3 July 2020. Acceptances not received by this date will result in the offer being withdrawn.

Successful applicants for direct entry will need to enrol on the following dates and commence the required coursework on the following dates.

Degree Enrolment date Coursework begins
Master by Research degrees
Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated)
14 July 2020 27 July 2020
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 4 August 2020 22 August 2020

Please note, VU Research will not accept a deferral of an offer for semester 1, 2021. If successful, you must enrol for semester 2, 2020 or reapply for the semester 1, 2021 intake.

Master of Research

For domestic Master of Research applicants, initial admission is to the pre-candidature phase, which usually continues for the first 6 months effective full-time (EFT) enrolment.

Standard duration for:

  • Master of Research Practice is 1 year (EFT)
  • Master of Research is 1.5 years (EFT)
  • Master of Applied Research is 2 years (EFT)

Your candidature must be approved before you become an official candidate for the degree. Your ongoing enrolment is also provisional until your candidature is approved.

International applicants

For international Masters by Research applicants, initial admission is to the pre-candidature phase, which usually continues for the first 6 months effective full time (EFT) enrolment. Standard duration for this course is 2 years (EFT).

Your candidature must be approved before you become an official candidate for the degree. Your ongoing enrolment is also provisional until your candidature is approved.

Doctor of Philosophy

For PhD applicants, initial admission is to the pre-candidature phase, which usually continues for 6-9 months effective full-time (EFT) enrolment. Standard duration for a Doctor of Philosophy is 3 years EFT, while the maximum duration should not exceed 4 years.

Your candidature must be approved before you become an official candidate for the degree in which you are enrolled. Your ongoing enrolment is also provisional until your candidature is approved.

You will be required to enrol in and complete two (2) core coursework units in the first semester (effective full-time). Find out more about our PhD coursework units.

Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated)

For PhD (Integrated) applicants, initial admission is to the Year 1 program of intensive research training with minor thesis. If you meet the requirements to progress to Years 2-4, at the conclusion of Year 1 you will proceed to the pre-candidature phase of the PhD with a fast track to candidature confirmation. This includes intensive mode delivery of the core PhD coursework unit, Conceptualising and Contextualising Research early in Year 2.

The duration of the PhD (Integrated) is normally 4 years. Your PhD project and thesis should incorporate the initial research work undertaken in Year 1. Your candidature must be approved before you become an official candidate in your degree. Your ongoing enrolment is also provisional on approval of candidature.

If you entered the PhD (Integrated) via the alternative pathway, you will be eligible to exit early with a Master of Research Practice after Year One if you:

  • achieve a pass mark of 50% or above in all Year 1 units, but do not fulfil the hurdle requirement (70% average across the coursework units and 70% in the Year 1 thesis); or
  • do not wish to proceed to years 2-4.

Find a supervisor

As part of our admissions guidelines for applicants, we ask that you contact a supervisor and receive an in principle approval from that supervisor before you submit your application.

You will need to include the ‘Prospective Supervisor’ form when you first contact a supervisor.

Find a researcher
Search for VU researchers by name or provide keywords e.g. areas of expertise, publications, projects.