What is a Research Higher Degree?

A Research Higher Degree (or Higher Degree by Research) is a supervised research program that requires original research in an area that you are passionate about and is of broader significance to the community.

By undertaking a Research Higher Degree, you can make an original contribution to knowledge, enhance your career prospects in industry or academia, and perform high-level research in a specific area of academic interest.

Research Higher Degree candidates are driven by:

  • naturally inquiring minds
  • a passion to solve problems
  • a desire to advance humanity.

A Research Higher Degree allows you to:

  • conduct your own, unique research
  • produce new knowledge and expertise that is innovative and relevant to Indigenous communities.

Types of Research Higher Degrees

Research Higher Degree programs include the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Masters of Research (MRes)/Masters of Philosophy (MPhil), and Professional Doctorates (Prof Doc).

For more information about specific programs at particular universities see the Research Programs section.

For more information about specific programs at particular universities see the Research Programs section.
Find out more

  • A PhD is an advanced academic qualification and is often considered a requirement for the majority of academic and research positions in a wide range of fields and industries
  • The aim of the PhD is to foster the development of independent research skills.
  • These skills include the capacity to formulate a significant problem, to develop mastery of appropriate conceptual and methodological skills to pursue investigation, and to relate the research to a broader framework of knowledge in a relevant disciplinary
  • For full-time students the course length is usually between two to four years
  • Postgraduate research degree that involves undertaking a significant research project
  • Aims to train students in analysing their thesis topic at an advanced level; research methodology and techniques; and the application of such methodology by conducting a specified program of research under appropriate supervision
  • Many Masters of Research students choose to continue with their research in order to obtain a PhD
  • For full-time students the course length is usually between one to two years
  • Can serve as a pathway to a PhD
  • Rigorous program of advanced study and research
  • Designed specifically to meet the needs of industry and professional groups
  • Professional doctorates usually consist of a blend of coursework and research
  • For full-time students students the course length is usually four years

There are different paths you can take to start your journey to complete a Research Higher Degree. The main requirement is usually prior research experience in the form of an Honours or Masters Degree, or relevant professional experience and training.

An Australian Honours degree is the standard pathway for entry into a Research Higher Degree, providing you with the experience and skills to take on advanced postgraduate research. Honours is a program of study which involves deeply investigating a research topic and writing a thesis, usually full-time over one year. Entry requirements for an Honours degree vary by program. Most Honours students complete the program during an “Honours year”, an additional year of study following completion of a Bachelor Degree.

A Masters by Coursework Degree provides another entry-point to a Research Higher Degree. To be accepted for a Research Degree, your Masters by Coursework Degree must usually contain a research component of at least 25%, such as a research project or a research methods course.

Your professional experience may also satisfy the admission requirements for undertaking a Research Higher Degree at an Australian university. For example, working as a research assistant and publishing research outcomes are strong evidence of relevant research experience. You may have a passion for research in a field where you can already demonstrate expertise.