How do I go about finding a suitable PhD and/or scholarship in Australia?

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International students, please note: This post aims to provide general advice on finding either a PhD, a scholarship or a PhD with scholarship for postgraduate study in Australia, using this site and other Australian based websites. There may also be scholarships available in your home country that you are eligible to apply for. You can apply the techniques described below to using websites in your home country. PhDSeek.com cannot help you personally though.

PhDSeek.com does not provide dedicated personal assistance with sourcing a suitable PhD and/or scholarship, either by email, phone, snail mail or in person. To find out why, click here.

Here’s how to get started

The best guidance we can offer to someone who is seeking to carry out a PhD in Australia is for them to browse PhDSeek.com’s listed PhDs by discipline. This will give some idea of the universities in Australia that offer PhD degrees in the area you are interested. If you find a PhD that interests you, or you read about a PhD that is somewhat related to what you want to do, contact the supervisor whose name is listed with the advert and express your interest along with any specific questions or desires you have.

If you cannot find a suitable PhD, or the discipline you want to specialise in is not listed (because at the time no applicable PhDs are listed), try the following approach:

Determine which universities and institutes in Australia have departments (also referred to as faculties or schools) specific to your area of interest. You can do this by searching via Google Australia or Yahoo! Australia and selecting the ‘Australia Only’ option so that only websites in Australia are shown. Use keywords such as ‘university’, ‘postgraduate’, ‘department’ and other general higher education related words, along with keywords that are specific to your area of interest. For example, if you are interested in remote sensing and GIS, type in university remote sensing gis. Although not all results may be applicable, a good proportion of the top results should be. A search via Yahoo! Australia for ‘university remote sensing gis’ currently returns the pages for the Tropical Spatial Sciences Group at Charles Darwin University and the Department of Geomatics at the University of Melbourne within the first 3 results for example.

Visit the web pages for as many of the applicable departments you can find. Most of them will provide a good amount of detail regarding what they offer in terms of postgraduate study. Some list scholarship information too. Review what work they are currently undertaking, what work they have done and get an understanding about what the department offers. To make your life a little easier, try to write a list of departments that impress you (call it your preferred list) and similarly a list of university/institute departments that you rather avoid for future reference.

Using your list of preferred departments, draft an email that outlines what you would like to do as part of a course of PhD study.

  • Explain what you would like to get out of doing a PhD, other than just obtaining the qualification. Send this email to each of the universities or institutes you have short-listed.
  • If a particular department impresses you for any reason, include this in the email when you send it to the university or institute in question.
  • When deciding who to send your email to, try to direct it to someone in the applicable department. Most departments have their own contact details prominently displayed on their website. If they do not, then look for the contact details of the admissions enquiries department and ask if your email can be forwarded on to someone in the applicable department you wish to work in.

If you do not receive a response within 7 days, it is probably worth sending a follow up email to ask if the original was received. Send this email to the same address you sent your original email. A follow up phone call is highly recommended.

Once you have established contact with someone you will be able to direct more specific questions to them and also enquire as to any available scholarships.

Always mention PhDSeek.com if you found the department through this website. Universities and institutes are always interested to find out how you heard about them.