Doctor of Philosophy

Pursue an independent and sustained investigation into a research problem of your own design. As a PhD candidate you will undertake a supervised research project that culminates in the submission of a thesis for examination which meets the following course learning outcomes:

  • a substantial body of knowledge at the frontier of a field of research or learning, including knowledge that constitutes an original contribution.
  • your ability to provide a critical appraisal of relevant literature and available research, to appreciate and understand the relationship of the investigations undertaken by the candidate to the wider field of knowledge in which these investigations are located, and to draw out the contribution to knowledge made by these investigations
  • your knowledge and understanding of the methodological techniques used in the research and any shortcomings associated with these techniques
  • a satisfactory level of literary presentation reflecting an ability to communicate in a clear, concise and authoritative manner appropriate to the field of research and to the scholarly community to which it is addressed.

You will be expected to submit your PhD thesis three years and three months (or part-time equivalent) after you commence; the maximum period of study is four years full-time (or part-time equivalent).

This degree involves you undertaking a supervised research project and presenting a thesis for examination 39 months (or the part-time equivalent) after you begin. The thesis for a professional doctorate can also be undertaken in practice-based mode or as a thesis with publications.

Applying for a PhD

Step 1: Check your eligibility

To apply for PhD candidature, you will need one of the following:

  • an Australian Masters by research degree in a relevant discipline completed within the last ten years assessed at a La Trobe Masters by research standard of 70 or above; OR
  • an Australian Bachelors (Honours) degree, Masters by coursework or ungraded Masters by research degree completed within the last ten years where you achieved a weighted average mark of 70 or above across any coursework subjects; and
    • your degree includes a research thesis of 15,000-20,000 words*; or
    • your degree includes a written research component comprising at least 3/8 of one year*; or
    • you are the lead author of a peer-reviewed publication or other research published within the last ten years*

*The written research component of your application will be evaluated according to the La Trobe Masters by research criteria and will need to be assessed at a standard of 70 or above.

International applicants

As an international applicant, you will also need to provide evidence that you meet the minimum English language requirements set for your course (some programs can have higher English language requirements).

English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)

Our partner La Trobe College Australia offer comprehensive ELICOS courses to specifically prepare international applicants for academic studies in English prior to commencing graduate research studies.

Step 2: Find your supervisor

Before you apply for graduate research candidature you must identify a potential supervisor and receive in-principle approval for your research project. You will need to include your potential supervisor's details on your completed application form.

If you have already made contact and have in-principle approval from your potential supervisor you can move on to the next step.

If you are applying for an PhD with an industry focus through a specialist scholarship project with a supervisor already attached to the project, you can move on to the next step.

Identifying your supervisor

You can search for a suitable supervisor by browsing the research and training scholars at La Trobe . You may contact potential supervisors directly through the contact details in their profile.

If you cannot find a supervisor in your area of interest, you will need to provide information about:

  • your most recent academic qualification and your grades or results
  • your research background
  • any previous publications
  • your intended area of research
  • a brief description of your intended research project.

Your enquiry will be sent directly to a specialist in your area of interest and they will be able to quickly determine whether appropriate supervision is available for you.

Supervisor enquiry

Your application cannot be processed until supervision is confirmed.

Step 3: Gather your documents

Domestic applicants

International applicants

  • Complete your online application form
  • You will need to organise two academic referees. Download the Confidential Academic Referee Report form [DOC 15KB]. Send the form to your referees and ask them to forward their completed referee report directly to La Trobe University via email to:
  • Your University academic transcripts and completion certificates (originals or certified copies)
  • Your professional CV (resume) outlining relevant work experience, academic awards, prior research background etc.
  • Details of any publications
  • A copy of your Master's thesis (with at least two chapters translated into English if it is not written in English)
  • A preliminary research proposal of no more than 300 words (if you need assistance, use our Guide to Writing a Research Proposal [PDF 68KB])
  • Your birth certificate or citizenship certificate (original or certified copy, for domestic applicants only).
  • Documentary evidence of your English language proficiency (optional)
  • If you hold a current passport and/or an Australian visa, you must include a copy with your application

Additional information about documentation

  • The same form is used for both candidature and scholarship applications.
  • Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and are highly competitive. To be eligible for consideration you must hold La Trobe University H1-equivalent results in your honours year or Master's, including your thesis component.

Step 4: Submit your application

Domestic applicants

By email: (You will receive confirmation by return email that your application has been received.)

By post: Graduate Research School, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086

In person at Graduate Research School, John Scott Meeting House, La Trobe University, Melbourne Campus

International applicants

Applications can be lodged via the International Online Application System. After you access the online system and enter and submit your details, you’ll receive an email with your username and password to log into the Student Portal and start your online application. You will be required to scan and upload all required documentation before your application can be considered.

Please note: Confidential academic referee reports must be emailed directly by referees to

How to apply for a PhD with an industry focus

If you are interested in completing the La Trobe PhD with an industry focus (“Industry PhD”), the best way to get involved is to check the currently available Industry PhD projects and scholarships on our Specialist Scholarships page. Instructions on how to apply are provided in each scholarship advertisement.

Successful applicants must meet the Australian University entry requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy degree and scholarships, and there may be additional requirements depending on the project and scholarship in question. Please refer to the scholarship advert for details.

Do you have questions about the application process?