Research students

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Research students

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By undertaking a higher degree by research, you can seek the answers to your own questions, make an original contribution to human knowledge, enhance your career prospects in industry or academia, and perform high-level research in a specific area of academic interest.

High quality research supervision—increasingly aligned with USC’s areas of research strengths—enables research graduates to make strong contributions to research and development that advances academic enquiry and Australia’s economy, society, culture and environment.

USC offers a range of higher degrees by research and postgraduate coursework programs.

What is a Higher Degree by Research?

A Higher Degree by Research (HDR) is a supervised research program that requires original research in an area that both interests you and is of broader significance to the University and the community.

Research masters degrees require you to make a significant contribution of merit through advanced research, study and production of a work in a scholarly branch of learning, while doctoral degrees expect you to make a substantial original contribution to knowledge through your research.

Doctoral programs typically take three to four years to complete and Masters programs around 18 months to two years studying full-time. Part-time study will double these timeframes.

HDRs may include advanced coursework. However, all programs must include a major research component that comprises at least two thirds of the total candidature requirements.

All HDRs are governed by the Higher Degrees by Research - Academic Policy and associated Procedures (Higher Degrees by Research Candidature - Procedures, Higher Degrees by Research Supervision - Procedures, Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Submission and Examination - Procedures). Review other related policies.

Why do a Higher Degree by Research?

A Higher Degree by Research (HDR) is an academic degree that will enhance your future career and life opportunities in industry or academia. But like all good things in life, getting to the top of your game requires substantial effort, stamina and more than a little bit of inspiration.

An HDR tells employers that:
  • You are capable of spending weeks or months diligently working to discover new truths, evaluating alternative approaches and recommending ways forward based on intellectually solid evidence.
  • You can be trusted to work autonomously or in a small group, pursuing ideas and solutions that contradict ‘common-sense’ or ‘received wisdom’ in your field.
  • You will make an original contribution to human knowledge creating new products, new markets, new theories and new work for others to follow in your footsteps.

Industry and academia alike hire and relocate good people with HDRs from all around the world. On completion of your HDR you can choose to pursue further research and a career in academia, start your own company, undertake research in a government or business organisation, manage large businesses, or a combination of any of these rewarding options.

Who is eligible for entry to an HDR?
Entry to Master by Research programs

Prospective candidates applying for admission for Master by Research candidature are normally required to hold a bachelors degree with at least Honours Class 2 Division I or Division II from a recognised higher education institution.

In some programs, applicants who have completed a bachelors degree and have achieved by subsequent work and study a standard equivalent to at least Honours Class 2 Division II may also be considered.

In exceptional cases, applications may be considered on the basis of other evidence of general and professional qualifications as approved by the Research Degrees Committee. Refer to your program of interest for specific admission requirements.

If English is not your first language, you must meet the minimum English language requirements. English as a Second Language (ESL) candidates must demonstrate an IELTs score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Entry to Doctoral Research programs

Prospective candidates applying for admission to Doctoral Research programs are normally required to hold a research masters degree or a bachelors honours degree with at least Honours Class 2 Division I from a recognised higher education institution.

Applicants who have completed a bachelors degree and have achieved by subsequent work and study a standard equivalent to at least Honours Class 2 Division I may also be considered.

In exceptional cases, applications may be considered on the basis of other evidence of general and professional qualifications as approved by the Research Degrees Committee.

If English is not your first language, you must meet the minimum English language requirements. English as a Second Language (ESL) candidates must demonstrate an IELTs score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Research supervision and support
Supervision

HDR candidates are required to have one Principal Supervisor and at least one Co-Supervisor, (both of whom have been admitted to USC’s Register of HDR Supervisors). Candidates may also include Associate Supervisors (who may be external to USC).

Search for a research supervisor.

Support

HDR candidates at USC are offered a wide range of supporting infrastructure.

Faculties provide discipline-specific research training opportunities and research seminars. Faculties also offer funding to support research activities.

The HDR Study Centres provide open-plan office space intended to offer an ‘HDR hub’ where candidates can work together and increase connectivity among candidates. Candidates with an allocated space are also provided with lockable storage, shelf space, copier/printing allocation and USC network and email accounts.

The Office of Research coordinates the Research Essentials Program each semester. This is a series of workshops and seminars on a variety of topics that candidates have requested training or information on through their Progress Planning and Review reports.

Enquiries

For more information, consider the information provided for prospective HDR applicants or askUSC.

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