Research opportunities

Pursuing a research degree can provide you with access to world-class education, innovative technologies, life-changing research opportunities and a supportive academic community.

Why pursue a research qualification in Australia? 

Australia is globally renowned for the quality of its own research and its work with scientists in other nations. In fact, several Australian universities consistently rank in the world’s top 100 for research. 

Studying a research degree in Australia is a popular choice, with international students making up more than 30 per cent of all research degree students across the country. 

Australia’s commitment to global citizenship and innovation, together with outstanding graduate outcomes, will help you use your research in support of academic discovery for a better future. 

High-quality research and development

Australian research and development (R&D) has led to important, life-changing innovations. These include the cochlear implant, cervical cancer vaccine, IVF, Wifi, the black box flight recorder, Google Maps and silicon photovoltaic solar cells, among many others. 

Almost 90 per cent of Australian research is rated at or above world standard. Australian universities are consistently ranked among the world’s best, with seven in the world’s top 100, based on the quality of their research.

A leader in scientific research

Australia has earnt a reputation as a leader in scientific research, ranking in the world's top one per cent in 15 different fields of research – including space science, physics, computer science and clinical medicine.

Australia’s scientific publication scores are also among the world's highest, ranking in the world’s top four for scientific journal articles, including six key categories: 

  • computer science
  • space science
  • multidisciplinary research
  • physics
  • clinical medicine
  • molecular biology and genetics. 

Outstanding graduate outcomes

Australia offers strong support to research students to prepare for future employment continues. This leads to outstanding graduate outcomes, with an employment rate of 85.6% (2022) for international postgraduate research-level students.

Having started in 2023, the Australian Government’s A$296 million National Industry PhD Program is supporting 1,800 PhD candidates over 10 years to undertake industry-focused research projects. 

Technological innovation 

Australia continues to make significant advances in technological innovation, particularly in agriculture, education, financial services and health. 

Entrepreneurs and academics are collaborating on important breakthroughs, including:

  • blockchain in finance
  • immersive simulation in education
  • robotics in medical procedures, and
  • the Internet of Things in agriculture.

Australia is also recognised as a world leader in silicon-based quantum computing research.

Australia is a place for highly educated workers

The research environment in Australia is strengthened by the country’s highly educated workforce – many of whom come from international backgrounds. 

Australia ranks first in the OECD Talent Attractiveness 2023 list for attracting and retaining highly educated workers. 

Talented researchers play an invaluable role in innovation and technological progress. This strengthens Australia’s competitiveness on the world stage and offer the opportunity to learn from academics who are leaders in their field.

Universities help sustainable development

Australian universities are good global citizens, working to help solve issues such as poverty, gender inequality and climate change. 

Australia’s research in sustainability and global development makes it a highly attractive partner for international collaborations. It also makes it an excellent place for international students to complete a research qualification in a related field.

According to the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings15 Australian universities are ranked in the top 100 for making an impact towards UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Take the next step to apply for research

Universities and higher education providers may have different processes for applying for courses. For more information, please contact your preferred Australian education provider directly via the Study Australia Course Search tool or consult an education agent closer to home. 

Step 1: Identify your level of study

Postgraduate research qualifications in Australia are available at three Higher Degree by Research (HDR) levels.

Step 2: Identify a topic of interest, a university and an academic supervisor 

Even if you don’t have a specific research question in mind, it’s useful to know the broad topic that interests you. 

Different universities have different research specialisations, so try to find one that matches your interests. Often they will be able to provide you with a list of available specialisations and even specific research topics. 

Universities and other higher education providers will usually be able to give you a list of academic staff members who could supervise your research. You should speak with each of these to ensure they are a good match for your interest area. 

Step 3: Apply through individual education providers

As each university and education provider has a different application process for HDR degrees, you will need to confirm requirements wherever you apply. Many providers accept online applications.

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