Graduate research

A PhD is essential to count as a fully trained chemist, since practical laboratory/project experience is considered an integral part of chemistry education. During a PhD, you work on your own, apply your skills in a research project and practice stating and solving scientific problems.

Research programs

Doctor of Philosophy

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is an intensive research degree that normally takes between two and four years of full-time study (or equivalent) to complete. Students submit a thesis of not more than 100,000 words for examination. The thesis must make a contribution to knowledge and relate to the broader framework of the field within which it falls. Students may also be required to undertake some coursework.

Master of Philosophy

A Master of Philosophy (MPhil) normally takes between one and two years of full-time study (or equivalent) and is designed for students who require an advanced research qualification. Students will be required to submit a thesis of not more than 60,000 words for examination, and may be required to undertake some coursework.


Applicants should be of a high scholastic calibre and should have a capacity for research.

Applicants for research degree scholarships must hold a bachelor degree with at least upper second class Honours, although competition is such that applicants usually have to hold a first class Honours degree to be competitive (and for some scholarships, this is mandatory), or a Master by coursework or a Graduate Diploma (which must be completed at a level equivalent to first or upper second-class Honours) degree from a recognised University. In special cases, applicants with other qualifications and/or research experience may be considered.

English language requirements

You are required to meet our English Language Requirements before you can be accepted for admission. Unless your previous tertiary-level studies were undertaken in English in (for example) Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or the United States of America, you will normally have to sit for either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS - overall 6.5 with no band less than 6.0) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL paper based test - 570 with TWE 4.5; TOEFL internet based test - overall score of 80 with a minimum of 20 in Reading and Writing and 18 in Speaking and Listening). Some programs may require higher scores.

If you have any questions about your application for admission and where it is up to, you can contact ANU Admissions Office


Research program applications are accepted at any time of the year, however there may be deadlines associated with scholarships that should be considered. For this reason, applicants are strongly recommended to apply for both admission and scholarship, before the following deadlines:

  • Overseas students: the 31st of August to be admitted in the following year.
  • Australia and New Zealand students: the 31st of October to be admitted in the following year.

Application process:

Step 1: Expression of interest

If you intend to apply for a graduate program the first step to take is to identify a research project and find an academic supervisor. Our graduate research convener, Professor Gottfried Otting, is available for advice about potential projects, supervisors, and the pre-application process.

Our current research activities may help you identifying a subject for the proposed research project and a potential supervisors. The ANU Researchers website, a database listing all potential supervisors at ANU, is also a useful resource. If you are advised there is an academic supervisor or convener interested in your application you may proceed to step two.

Step 2: Academic supervisor

Email your academic supervisor directly with your expression of interest. The email should outline the reason(s) why you are attracted to their field of research, the type of research you would like to pursue and a summary of your academic qualifications and research experience. You may also submit a short research proposal however this is not mandatory at this point.

The academic supervisor may contact you to discuss your research proposal and possibly other projects; or they may forward your expression of interest to other staff in the School. Once an academic supervisor has been confirmed to support your application you may proceed to step three.

Step 3: Scholarship

ANU, Colleges and individual research schools, offer a number of scholarships which are awarded on a merit basis. You can also talk to your academic supervisor about other sources of funding you might access to assist with living expenses and tuition fees.

Please note, international research scholarships are only awarded to outstanding students and are extremely competitive. Domestic students should be aware that if you are applying for mid year entry your chances of obtaining scholarship funding may be greatly diminished. A list of available scholarships is published on the College website.

Step 4: Application

Prospective graduate students should apply online through the ANU Application Manager portal:

Note that the online application form does not have to be completed in one session. You can log in at any time to complete or edit your application before submitting. The online form allows you to download referees report templates that can be completed and submitted directly to ANU. If you cannot access the online application portal you may use the Graduate research program and scholarship application forms for local and international students.  Application for admission to a higher degree by research and scholarship is combined on the single application.

Supporting documentation:

The list of required supporting documentation includes:

  • 3 referee reports,
  • Official colour scans of academic transcripts, and completion certificates,
  • Resume/CV,
  • 1 page research proposal, and
  • An IELTS/TOEFL English language proficiency result (if applicable)


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long does it take?

    A PhD program takes at least 2 years and at most 4 years to complete full time. All ANU scholarships end after 3.5 years without any substitute at the RSC.

  2. What scholarships are available?

    Australian and New Zealand citizens with first class Honours should apply for the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship. (Application deadline is 31 October in the year prior to commencement).
    International students need to be equally qualified. The ANU offers a small number of International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) – these are extremely competitive scholarships, as there are less than 20 IPRS per annum across the entire university. (Application deadline is 31 August in the year prior to commencement).
    All students can apply to their potential supervisor for scholarship funding. (The 2016 rate is $26,288 per annum.)

  3. How do I apply?

    You need to apply online – one application covers both admission and scholarships. You will be automatically considered for all scholarships available to you. For more information please see the Apply tab.

  4. Do I have to pay tuition fees?

    Yes, unless you are a citizen of Australia or New Zealand. International students can be considered for a HDR Fee Remission Merit Scholarship – where Tuition fees will be waived. This will be considered automatically and does not require additional paperwork.

  5. How do I apply for a visa?

    Prospective international students need to provide: (i) CV, (ii) academic transcript (colour scans), (iii) TOEFL or IELTS scores, (iv) 3 references of academics, (v) research proposal / project description by ANU supervisor. Once your application has been accepted you will receive a letter of offer for admission – once all conditions have been met (e.g. proof of health cover) and you have signed the paperwork, the ANU will provide an electronic certificate of enrolment (eCOE). You need the eCOE to apply to the Department of Immigration for a student visa.

  6. Do I need Health Cover and how much does it cost?

    Yes, International Students need to pay Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) in advance for 52 months as part of the visa requirements. You can either arrange your own OSHC, or ask the ANU to arrange it for you. Details will be outlined in your letter of offer for admission. The cost of OSHC for 2015 from the ANU preferred provider (Allianz) is $3,021 for single cover.

  7. Where will I live?

    The cost of living in any city obviously depends on needs, lifestyle choices and spending habits. For accommodation on-campus please refer to the following website: The median cost for renting a 3-bedroomed house in Canberra is $420 per week, and $380 per week for a 2-bedroomed unit/flat/townhouse - for more information please see More information on moving to Australia can be found on the Postgraduate Research Students website.

  8. More questions?

    For any questions about undertaking a PhD within the Research School of Chemistry, applying for admission and/or scholarships, or general questions about Canberra – please contact our friendly RSC HDR Student Coordinator at

Updated:  12 December 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director, RSC/Page Contact:  Web Admin, RSC