Being a candidate
Leave and study rate
Changing your study rate from full-time to part-time
Q. I want to go from full-time to part-time, or vice versa. What do I need to do?
If you want to change your study rate from full-time to part-time or vice versa, and you are a domestic student, you need to provide the Graduate Research School with
- a reason for your request
- a statement outlining how you will maintain contact with your supervisory team and meet the weekly time commitment required for your studies.
Your request will be actioned after the approval of your principal supervisor and your Graduate Research Coordinator (GRC).
International students on a student visa need to contact La Trobe International before applying to change from full-time to part-time candidature.
Scholarship recipients are encouraged to check the conditions of their scholarship before applying to enrol part-time.
Q. I am an international student. Can I change my study rate?
If you are an international student on a student visa, you are generally required to maintain a full-time enrolment during your candidature.
Before changing your study rate, check your visa requirements and consult La Trobe International for provisions applicable to your candidature.
Q. What types of leave am I entitled to?
During your candidature, you are entitled to:
- Recreation and personal leave:
- Leave of absence
- Parental and partner leave (domestic candidates only).
Q. How much recreation and personal leave can I take?
You can take
- 20 working days (EFT) recreation leave, per calendar year
- 10 working days (EFT) personal leave, per calendar year.
Entitlement to personal and recreational leave does not affect the period of candidature, the timing of progress milestones or international students’ visas.
Q. What can I use personal leave for?
You can use personal leave to
- attend to a personal illness or injury
- to provide care to a family member who is ill or injured or
- use in the case of an unexpected emergency in relation to that person.
A supervisor can also grant personal leave in special or exceptional circumstances.
Q. What is a leave of absence and how much am I entitled to?
A leave of absence refers to a period of non-enrolment for reasons preventing you from doing your research or coursework. You are generally entitled to a combined total of 12 months leave of absence for
- Extended Personal Leave
- Jury Service Leave
- Defence Reserve Service Leave.
If you receive a request for jury duty, please note that students are encouraged to apply for exemption by the Jury Commissioner as it is considered a disruption to their studies.
If you are a scholarship recipient, make sure to check the requirements of your scholarship before requesting leave.
If you are an international student on a student visa you must consult with La Trobe International to discuss you leave of absence application.
Q. Are Master’s by Research candidates entitled to the same amount of leave of absence as doctoral candidates?
Yes. Leave of absence entitlements are the same for all higher degree by research candidates.
Q. Will I still receive my scholarship while on leave?
You will continue to receive your scholarship during periods of recreation and personal leave, but not generally when on leave of absence. Some scholarships include provisions for parental and partner leave and extended personal leave. Check the terms and conditions of your scholarship to see what you are entitled to or consult the Graduate Research School.
If you are an international student who is sponsored, you must consult with the La Trobe International Sponsor Team to discuss your leave of absence application.
Q. If I’m on a leave of absence, am I allowed to continue any research work?
If you are on a leave of absence you can’t do any research work. This includes parental and partner leave. This is because there are significant ethical, legal and insurance risks associated with continuing your research when you are not enrolled.
Q. Does taking parental or partner leave affect my entitlement to other forms of leave?
As parental or partner leave is a separate entitlement, taking any parental or partner leave will not reduce any other types of leave.
Q. I’ve already had the maximum allowance of 12 months’ leave of absence but I need more time off from my studies. What can I do?
You can apply for more than 12 months’ leave of absence, up to a maximum of 2 years’, in exceptional circumstances.
Q. I’ve already had the maximum allowance of 2 years’ leave of absence but I need more time off from my studies. What can I do?
If you are not able to continue your studies after you have used up the maximum allowable leave of absence you can withdraw from your degree. Within three years of withdrawing, you can apply to revive your candidature when you are ready to resume your studies.
Applying for leave & returning from leave
Q. How do I apply for leave?
If you want to take recreation of personal leave, you have to arrange this with your supervisor and your Graduate Research Coordinator if required. There is no formal application process for standard recreation and personal leave.
If you want to apply for a leave of absence or parental and partner leave, follow the instructions provided on the Graduate Research School website.
If you are an international student who is sponsored, you must consult with the La Trobe International Sponsor Team to discuss your application for leave.
Q. How much notice must I give prior to taking a leave of absence?
You have to apply for a leave of absence at least 10 working days before your proposed period of leave. If you want to extend your leave of absence, you must apply at least 10 working days before your approved return date.
If you are unable to lodge a timely application because of medical or exceptional compassionate reasons, you have to provide supporting evidence for these circumstances in your application.
Q. Is there a minimum and maximum time period I can apply for leave of absence for?
If you apply for Leave of absence, this must be for a minimum period of two weeks and a maximum period of 12 months.
Leave applications beyond the maximum time period will only be considered on medical or compelling grounds. In cases like this, candidates may be granted more than the normal 12 months. However, the total amount of leave can’t be longer than 24 months.
Q. Can I apply for leave of absence at any time during my degree?
Leave of absence applications are not generally approved within the first six months of your candidature but can be given in exceptional circumstances.
Q. Will taking leave consume my candidature?
Personal and recreational leave do not affect your period of candidature or your progress milestone dates.
When you take leave of absence or parental and partner leave, you don’t consume candidature time. The Graduate Research School will adjust progress your reporting dates, expected work submission dates and maximum completion dates accordingly for you.
Q. I am an international student. Will taking leave affect my student visa?
Taking personal and recreational leave does not affect your visa.
If you are an international student, you must consult with La Trobe International to discuss your leave of absence application to make sure it won’t affect your visa.
Q. What if I want to apply for a leave of absence while enrolled in coursework subjects?
If you want to apply for leave of absence while you are enrolled in coursework subjects, talk to your subject coordinator to discuss completing the requirements for those subjects.
Q. I need more than 10 days (allocated entitlement) of sick leave per year. What can I do to need to do to extend my scholarship?
You need to apply for leave of absence, which may be paid if your application is supported with appropriate documentation like medical certificates subject to the terms and conditions of your scholarship.
Q. Do I have to fill in a form to notify the Graduate Research School when I return from leave?
No. Your candidature will be automatically resumed when you return from leave. You must tell us if you will not be returning from leave on the agreed date as you will start to consume candidature from your expected return date. If you do not return and don’t request and extension to your leave, you may be declared absent without leave and withdrawn from your degree.
Coursework and concurrent enrolment, transfers, and outside research
Coursework and concurrent enrolment
Q. How do I apply for recognition of prior learning?
If you have completed the equivalent work or study of any required coursework before or during your candidature, you can apply for an exemption. To do this, you need to
- have completed cognate subjects in a previous degree – which may have also been the basis for admission
- have demonstrated sufficient research experience relevant to your program to warrant an exemption.
Applications for coursework exemptions must be assessed by your relevant course coordinator, endorsed by your School's Director of Graduate Research, and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Q. Can I enrol in additional subjects?
Yes, you can apply to undertake additional subjects during your candidature by applying to audit additional subjects, or formally enrol in them.
Also be aware that if you enrol in additional subjects without approval, this can incur additional tuition fees.
Q. Will withdrawing from individual subjects affect my candidature?
If you withdraw from an individual subject or take a leave of absence from a course where there are course requirements, both academic and financial penalties may apply. The penalties will depend when you withdraw or leave, along with the relevant census dates.
Q. How do I vary my enrolment?
If you want to enrol in elective coursework or vary your enrolment in any coursework, you can do this by completing an Elective Coursework or Compulsory Coursework Variation Form.
Q. Can I enrol in another degree or diploma, while concurrently undertaking a higher degree by research?
As a full-time candidate you may only enrol in another degree or diploma concurrently with your higher degree by research, in exceptional circumstances like
- enrolment in a professional qualification is sought in the final stages of the higher degree by research, or
- a case can be made for complementary training.
If you are seeking concurrent enrolment in another degree or diploma, you have to apply in writing to the Graduate Research School.
Outside research: expectation and entitlements
Q. Outside research: what the expectations and what am I entitled to?
You are required be on a La Trobe campus on a regular basis, unless you have made an application for outside research that has been approved.
You can be approved to pursue research away from your home La Trobe campus if
- there are appropriate facilities and resources available to support your candidature off-site
- any activities you have planned during the off-site research period will support your research project or professional development
- you have made arrangements for regular contact between you and your supervisory team and
- you comply with all relevant procedures and policies, and complete all progress milestones.
Short-term study away
Q. How much time can I spend away from my home campus?
You are generally allowed to spend a maximum of 12 months away from your home campus for research-related purposes throughout your candidature. This includes (but is not limited to) participation in conferences, exchange programs or field work.
If you intend to spend more than 12 weeks on study away you must ensure that arrangements for continued supervision are in place. This can include temporary supervision at the research location.
To apply for a period of study away, follow the instructions provided on the Graduate Research School website.
Q. Can I get funding for study away?
You are encouraged to seek information through your Principal Supervisor and Graduate Research Coordinator for potential sources for funding.
Q. What if I need to spend more than 12 months on study away?
If you wish to spend more than 12 months on study away you must also seek approval from the Dean of Graduate studies. Please follow the instructions provided on the Graduate Research School website.
Q. What if I need to extend my study away?
If you wish to extend an approved period of study away, you must lodge a new application 20 working days prior to the expiry date of the previously approved study away application.
Note that you may risk the loss of appropriate insurance cover if you overstay the originally approved study away period without an approved extension.
Q. I’m an international student, can I apply for study away?
If you are an international student on a student visa and wish to apply for study away you are encouraged to check your visa conditions to confirm that you may travel in and out of Australia. If you are from a UN sanctioned country you may need additional approvals.
Q. Can I apply for an internship during my candidature?
You may apply to take part in an internship during your candidature. This is subject to the availability of
- a host organisation and a suitably qualified supervisor and/or mentor in that organisation and
- a research project in the organisation that is relevant to your research topic and professional development.
Internship arrangements must be governed by written agreements between all parties including you, the host organisation and the University.
You can apply to take part in an internship through the process outlined on the Graduate Research School website.
Partnerships and external candidature
Q. What if I want to complete my degree through an external partnership?
If you wish to complete your degree under a collaborative agreement between La Trobe University and another organisation, you will be subject to La Trobe University policies, procedures and relevant legislations, and the conditions outlined in respective agreements.
You will apply separately for such degrees, as a normal part of the admissions process.
Q. I want to study at La Trobe University, but cannot make it to a La Trobe campus (e.g. because I don’t reside within a reasonable commuting distance). What can I do?
You can apply to enrol as an external candidate, where the conditions for outside research specified in the Candidature Policy can be met and where
- you don’t reside within a reasonable commuting distance of a La Trobe University campus
- the requirements of the research project are better served at another location (like clinical settings for example).
As an external candidate you will normally have to attend a relevant La Trobe University campus for a minimum of 10 working days per year of your candidature. Where possible, it’s best if these days coincide with progress milestones and relevant development opportunities.
While La Trobe University will support you to successfully complete your degree, it may not be possible to receive the same support that is provided to candidates on campus if you are an external candidate.
If you want to be considered for an external candidature, you must indicate this when applying for admission to a higher degree by research.
Q. I am currently undertaking my degree on campus, can I transfer to external candidature?
If you accept an offer of candidature on a La Trobe University campus you can’t transfer to external candidature within the first 12 months after enrolling, except if the reasons for you seeking a transfer could not be reasonably foreseen at the time of admission.
If you enrolled at a La Trobe University Campus and want to change your status to external candidate more than 12 months after enrolling, you must complete the application form found on the Graduate Research School website.
Q. I am an external candidate. Will the Graduate Research School at La Trobe pay for my travel expenses?
The Graduate Research School at La Trobe does not pay for external candidates’ travel costs outside of specific scholarship schemes.
Supervision and change of topic
Q. My main supervisor is away – can my co-supervisor act as both supervisors?
No. A supervisor can only have one role at a time and you must always have at least two supervisors for your research.
If your main supervisor is away, you may be able to stay in touch through other communication channels. If this is not a possibility, then your Head of School or your School's Director of Graduate Research will need to arrange for continued supervision while your principal supervisor is on leave – this can be an interim arrangement if need be.
In any event, a gap in supervision should never be greater than ten days.
Q. Can I change my research topic?
If you wish to make a minor or major change in your research topic, the candidature consumed will continue to be calculated from the original date that you started your degree.
You are able to change your topic or research direction under the following specific conditions
- For minor changes to the title of your thesis, you must gain your Principal Supervisor’s approval and then notify the Graduate Research School.
If you are an international student from a sanctioned country, you are required to get your Principal Supervisor to advise La Trobe International of the change to your research topic.
- For major changes, both the candidate and supervisors are responsible for ensuring that any change in research topic does not breach any legislation. If you wish to make a change in your research that is deemed substantial by your Principal Supervisor, follow the instructions on the Graduate Research School website.
If you are an international student from a sanctioned country who seeks to make a major change in topic, an assessment of the topic will need to be undertaken according to the Autonomous Sanctions Policy.
Q. My thesis topic has changed and I think it should be in another discipline. What do I do?
If a change of discipline is likely, you may need to negotiate new supervision in a different department or school. If this is the case, the Graduate Research Coordinator in the new discipline will need to seek the approval of the relevant Directors of Graduate Research in both the original and new schools – this is because this change will trigger corresponding changes in the funding and resources.
In these circumstances the respective Heads of School or Directors of Graduate Research Coordinators are responsible for negotiating any redistribution of resources for you, as well as the completion of any funds.
Where you change your topic and/or supervision, your expected work submission and milestone due dates will not be adjusted.