How to Apply & Enrol for a Research Degree

Graduate Research School


The following steps will assist you through the application process for admission and scholarship.

Please ensure you check the relevant deadlines prior to applying, available on the Key Dates page.

If you are applying for the Scientia PhD Scholarship, please see Application Instructions at:


Important changes to Postgraduate Research Scholarship rounds

UNSW Sydney Postgraduate Research Scholarships will now be open for and assessed in 4 Rounds throughout the year. These rounds, named Round 1-4, will be open to both International and Domestic applicants. The round numbers do not correspond with the same number Semester, so please ensure you check our Key Dates page to check which scholarship round you should apply for. Late or Out of Round applications will not be accepted.


Please be advised that UNSW no longer accepts English waiver requests for scholarship applicants commencing a research degree. This means you must meet the requirements through the following three channels:

 All scholarship applicants must meet UNSW English requirements by the scholarship deadline.
This change in policy will come into effect for Round 2 applicants onwards. If your request for a waiver was submitted prior to the 7th April 2017, this will be still be considered.

Step 1: Determine eligibility & find a research area

Eligibility for Higher Research Degrees
The following pages contain details on the minimum eligibility requirements for admission to research degrees offered at UNSW:

The University's Admissions Policy can be accessed here.

If you are applying for a UNSW Scholarship, Scholarships are only available to applicants who hold a four year bachelor’s degree with Honours Class 1 from an Australian institution, or an equivalent research qualification/experience. This qualification must be in a field relevant to your area of research. Further clarification on the equivalent experience can be found here in the UNSW Scholarship Guidelines (please see Related Documents).

Developing your Research Area
Before applying for a higher research degree you will need to match your area of interest to one of our Faculties or Schools. The Faculty and School websites, which can be accessed here, provide detailed information on their program offerings.

In addition to the online application process, a number of Schools and Faculties have specific admission requirements. Please read this information carefully prior to finding a supervisor or submitting your online application:

Step 2: Find a Supervisor & Develop a Research Proposal

Finding a Supervisor
Most Schools require students to contact a researcher and secure their agreement to supervise you prior to submitting a formal application for admission. A Supervisor must be located in the School you are applying to.

Specific Faculty requirements:

  • Law and UNSW Business School applicants are not required to contact a supervisor prior to application
  • Built Environment and Arts and Social Sciences applicants need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Faculty, and will submit their successful EOI outcome as proof of contact. 
  • Please check the Faculty links below for further information. 

You can search for a supervisor in various ways:

  • Use the UNSW Find a Researcher tool
  • Conduct a literature search in your area of interest
  • Look at the research being carried out at UNSW’s nine Faculties

Choosing your Supervisor is an important decision, therefore please consider the following when contacting a researcher:

  • How knowledgeable/experienced is the researcher on your planned research topic?
  • Do you and the researcher have compatible work and communication styles?
  • Do you and your researcher have the same expectations of your long-term working relationship?

Once you have found a researcher that you want to work with, it is important that you meet, skype and/or email them before submitting an admission application. Proof of correspondence with a potential supervisor is required for your application.This proof can be a copy of the email correspondence you have had, and must include the researcher's agreement to supervise you. If you undertook an Expression of Interest (EOI), such as is required for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the EOI outcome email will serve as the proof of supervisor contact.

Trouble finding a supervisor?
If you are having difficulties finding a supervisor, you may want to contact your school of choice directly for assistance. The best person to contact within your school is the Postgraduate Coordinator. Be sure to include your full contact details, research interests, qualifications and research experience in your correspondence with the Postgraduate Coordinator.

Please note that agreement from an academic does not guarantee admission, as your application will still be required to meet the UNSW Higher Degree Research Supervision Policy.

Developing a Research Proposal
All applications must be sufficiently detailed so the University can determine if adequate supervision and resources to support your research can be provided. Your research proposal helps make that determination. A Research Proposal is required for your application.

In general, research proposals should be around one page in length*, and should include the following:

  • The Title of Your Research Proposal (this must be included in your document)
  • A Statement of the research problem and its significance
  • An Outline of the method to be used to analyse the problem
  • Details of previous publications and/or research undertaken in your nominated area of interest

*You must check with your Faculty or School to see if they have specific requirements for supervisor contact and/or research proposal length:

Step 3: Prepare Supporting Documentation

Applicants submit supporting documentation as part of the online application. Therefore it is important to prepare your documents before starting the application. All documents must be in English or include a certified English translation(see below). If you are unable to include some of your documentation with your online application you can submit them once they are available through your UNSW Apply Online account. More information will be included with your application receipt letter after you apply.

Scanned copies of documents are sufficient for the application process.  All applicants will need to be prepared to present original documents (including English translations) to UNSW for inspection after enrolment as requested. UNSW will verify all documents via back-to-source (BTS) checks with applicants’ home institutions. Where we are unable to verify documents with your home institution, applicants will be required to bring their originals to the Graduate Research School for verification. If documents are found to be misleading, consequences may include withdrawal of any offer or enrolment, loss of fees already paid, and reporting to Police, Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and Immigration.

Below is a short description of documents required by every applicant. Those marked with an asterix (*) are required in order for your application to be assessed. Those without can be sent at a later date. Further documentation specific to your case may be required beyond the below, and we will contact you in the event these are required.

  • Electronic transcripts*: Applicants need to provide a scanned or electronic copy of transcripts for all tertiary degrees completed or attempted, including current degrees. For those students undertaking a research degree which does not have specific scores, an enrolment summary will be required to show which semesters the applicant was enrolled. All pages of one transcript, including the original language copy, should be provided in one document.
  • Grading systems*: These are explanations of what specific scores/grades mean at a specific University/Institution. These must be provided for each University the applicant has attended.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)*: This must include details of previous research, such as a summary of all research outputs and experience, including publications, conference presentations, etc. Work samples such as abstracts may be attached as appendices to the CV.
  • Research Proposal*: Please see Step 2
  • Supervisor Contact*: Please see Step 2
  • Testamurs: These are certificates of completion for prior degrees. If you are currently studying, the testamur for this degree can be submitted at a later date. Your application can be provisionally assessed without these. All pages of one testamur, including the original language copy, should be provided in one document.
  • Proof of Australian/New Zealand citizenship, or Australian Permanent Residency (PR): For Australian/New Zealand citizens or Australian PRs only.
  • Proof of English*: All applicants, domestic and international, must meet the English language entry requirements for the University before they can be offered unconditional admission. Applicants do not need to have met the English requirements before applying for admission, however satisfactory English proof (excluding English Waivers) is required in order to be considered for a scholarship (please see Key Dates for the deadline). 
  • Current/Final semester results: This is only required for any students still undertaking a tertiary degree. These are not required until you have completed all requirements of your current degree, including any thesis components. Once you have completed, you will need to submit your final transcript and any examiners reports (if applicable).
  • UNSW Art & Design Portfolio: all Art & Design applicants with further design/exhibition work can provide details of these directly to the Art & Design Student Centre

Referees may be contacted directly by your School or Supervisor.  Please ensure you supply correct details of 2 Referees during the online application. 

Translation of Documents:
Documents that are in a language other than English must be translated by an accredited translator before they are submitted to UNSW.

  • Translations performed in Australia - These should be performed by a translator accredited by NAATI (the National Standards and Accreditation body for Translators and Interpreters) .
  • Translations performed outside of Australia – These can be performed by
    • a translator accredited by NAATI (the National Standards and Accreditation body for Translators and Interpreters) who is based outside of Australia, or
    • an acceptable registered translator in the overseas country.  You should contact the Australian mission in the country in which the translation will be conducted for advice on acceptable registered translators.

Each translation must be accompanied by a statement which states “The translated text in this document is an accurate and complete translation of the original document” and should then also contain the translator’s signature, printed name, membership of the relevant accredited translation body (and membership number if applicable) and the date the statement is made.


Step 4: The Application

For application deadlines, click here

*Late applications may be accepted for admission only. Please allow enough time for your application to be assessed (around 6-8 weeks), and - for international students - visa processing and travel times.

Once you have secured a supervisor, developed a research proposal, and prepared your supporting documents, you are ready to lodge your application. Your program needs to be within the same school as your supervisor. You can confirm the correct program code with your supervisor, Postgraduate Coordinator or by referring to the UNSW handbook.

Students will apply for our main scholarship rounds within the online application, on the "Research/HDR Scholarship" page. Only open rounds are available. Please choose the appropriate scholarship round and/or MOU. Students who are applying for the main scholarship rounds will be considered for all available scholarships within that round. Applicants need to meet the University English Requirements Policy in order to be considered for a scholarship. Please ensure you check the scholarship deadlines - click here.

All applicants must apply online here. Applications, once submitted, cannot be changed. Please submit only one application. 

Step 5: After the application

Application Tracking Service and Acknowledgement

Please ensure you have submitted all your available required documentation and finalised your application. Once finalised, the application will take 2-3 working days to be processed in the system, after which time you will then be emailed a confirmation receipt with your UNSW Student ID and a list of any outstanding documentation. This will be an ID specific to you, and you should quote the ID in all future correspondence with the University.

After you have submitted your application and you have received a confirmation receipt via email, you can then provide your outstanding documentation and/or track your application by logging in to your UNSW Apply Online account.

Once you submit documents through your UNSW Apply Online account, the Graduate Research School will check these and update the document status. You do not need to notify us or send your documents by email. Please ensure you check application tracking to ensure you have correctly submitted all relevant documentation for the application to be processed. If you are currently enrolled in a degree, your interim transcript will suffice for assessment.

It is usual for all admission applications to take 6-8 weeks to be processed. We will contact Schools and Faculties on your behalf if the assessment process is longer than this.

If you have applied for a scholarship, the scholarship outcome will be released separately. For scholarship offer release dates please click here.

Successful applicants may receive a conditional offer if they have not yet provided all outstanding documents on their checklist. Applicants who receive these are not able to accept, or receive a Confirmation of Enrolment required for visa application (International students only). However, can defer or decline their offer by emailing the Admissions and Scholarships team: or

Step 6: Accept your Unconditional/Full Offer

Successful applicants with unconditional/full offers can accept, defer or decline their offer online through myUNSW. You will need your UNSW login ID (i.e. 'z1234567') and UniPass to log into myUNSW. To get your UniPass, please go to UNSW Identity Manager (IDM) and follow the setup instructions.

The offer letter will answer most questions that might arise. Please ensure that you read the offer letter in its entirety, before accepting the offer.

If you have applied for a UNSW scholarship, you may wait for the scholarship outcome before accepting the admission offer. Release dates can be found on our Key Dates page. You must complete the reply form of both the admission and scholarship offers to accept – do not complete the online acceptance

*For International Students:

If you are being sponsored by an external party, complete the reply form in your offer of admission letter, complete the International Sponsored Student Agreement form, and return them along with the Financial Guarantee electronically to the Graduate Research School. Please note, if you have applied for UNSW scholarship, you are not considered as a “Sponsored Student”.

Once you have accepted the offer and either paid the deposit (only credit card deposit payments can access the online acceptance facility) or submitted your sponsorship/scholarship information, it will take up to 5 working days to create and release your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). Once you receive this, you can apply for your visa.

Step 7: Enrolling

All candidates who have accepted their offer of admission into a research program at UNSW need to enrol before commencing study. After accepting your offer, you will be emailed further information on the enrolment procedure. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are enrolled at the start of every semester and that your enrolment is correct.

For detailed information about how to enrol in your research degree go to: 

Commencing Enrolment 

If you are a continuing research candidate and need to re-enrol please go to this link:


Postgraduate Research Students are unable to enrol online