Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy is the University’s flagship research award and is the standard pre-requisite for a career in research or academia. The PhD involves three – four years of research for a full-time candidate or the equivalent in half-time candidature.

As one of the most highly research-intensive and respected universities in Australia and a member of the prestigious Group of Eight, The University of Adelaide is the smart choice for your research program. The University is committed to providing unique opportunities for graduates and researchers who are recognised as worldwide leaders for their vision and capacity to address global research challenges.

All PhD students at the University have the opportunity to broaden their research experience through the Career and Research Skills Training (CaRST) program.


Career Readiness

The PhD is a demonstration of a graduate’s ability to conceptualise and implement an independent program of research, manage a project, organise resources, work with other people and communicate effectively both orally and in writing at a high level.  Accordingly, a wide range of career opportunities are available to PhD graduates. The traditional pathways are to research and academic careers, however, increasingly, graduates progress into other professional areas, including management.

The University of Adelaide Careers Service prepares, inspires and empowers students to achieve successful career transitions and connect with industry.

Potential careers

Research Manager, Research Scientist, Research and Education

Degree Structure

A PhD comprises an independent, supervised research project mutually agreed upon by the student, their supervisors and Head of School. The PhD requires the development and implementation of a rigorous research plan, based on a comprehensive understanding of the relevant literature and the need for answers to questions posed in that literature or as a result of a new theory. In addition, PhD students complete a minimum of 120 hours of relevant professional development activities through the University's Career and Research Skills Training (CaRST) program.

Progress through the degree is tracked through the completion of a number of key milestones. These milestones provide an opportunity for the University to review progress and ensure that candidates are well supported to complete their degree in a timely manner.

The award of the degree is based on the examination of a thesis by no fewer than two external expert examiners of international standing. Acceptable thesis formats include a conventional written narrative, publication, combination and a major creative work plus exegesis. In all cases, examiners assess the thesis on a number of key criteria including its capacity to make a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the chosen field of research. The final outcome is determined by the University following review of all the examiners' reports.

Admission Requirements

A successful application to a PhD program involves a number of considerations:

Academic background and Experience

An applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient background and experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete a PhD as detailed in the academic program rules.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

As English is the language of instruction at the University of Adelaide, all applicants must provide evidence of their proficiency before an offer of a place is made.

Availability of supervision and resourcing

In addition to the academic requirements, the Head of School must certify that your proposed research project is acceptable to the School and that there are sufficient supervisory and other resources and facilities available to enable your candidature to be completed successfully. Accordingly, discussing your research interests with your prospective supervisors/School is essential prior to submitting your PhD application.  Visit our Research Degrees Projects page for details of some of the available projects on offer.  If you don’t find a project of interest here, you can apply with your own project idea after reaching out to potential supervisor(s) in your area of interest. 

Fees for Domestic Students

Eligible domestic students (including Australian citizens or permanent residents and New Zealand citizens) are covered by the Research Training Program (RTP) and are exempt from the payment of tuition fees. An RTP place is available for a maximum of 4 years of full time equivalent study for an eligible Doctorate student.

Fees for International Students

The tuition fees for international research students are available on the web at:

In addition to tuition costs, it is a condition of a student visa that you hold and maintain health insurance for the entire length of your stay in Australia. This insurance is called Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Tuition fees for international students who have been awarded a Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend Scholarship are covered by an RTP Fee-Offset for a maximum of 4 years of full-time equivalent study for an eligible Doctorate student.


The University of Adelaide offers a wide range of scholarships to assist both domestic and international students with the cost of their studies. For information on the opportunities available, closing dates and how to apply go to:

Academic Program Rules

The Calendar is a comprehensive handbook of the University's academic program rules.

Doctor of Philosophy

Areas of Specialisation

The PhD is offered in all Schools and Disciplines at the University including the full complement of our locally and globally recognised areas of research strength.


The University boasts good infrastructure, facilities and services facilitating research. With the enriched perspective and experience, I hope to continue making a difference in life, be it at personal or professional level.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.

Last updated: Wednesday, 13 Sep 2023