Admission Process for Research Students

Postgraduate (research) admission process for domestic and international students

Sydney College of Divinity offers four postgraduate research awards (Higher Degree by Research (HDR)). We have a vibrant research culture where learning and study is in an environment focused on research impact and relevance.

We encourage you to apply well ahead of time as the application process from start to finish could take a few weeks. Applications can be made at any time during the year to the Sydney College of Divinity Graduate Research School (GRS). Prospective students are advised to visit the GRS site for more information on research courses and study.

From 1 January 2021, higher education domestic and onshore international students commencing study in 2021 will need a Unique Student Identifier (USI)

  • to be eligible for FEE-HELP (domestic students only)
  • to receive your degree, if you intend to complete your study at the end of 2022 and graduate in 2023.

Outlined below are the steps to apply for a research degree as a domestic or international student. If you have any questions email


  1. 1 Explore study options
  2. 2 Meet the Research Director
  3. 3 Develop research proposal
  4. 4 Apply online
  5. 5 What next
1 Explore study options

To be eligible for admission to a postgraduate research degree, your prior university-level studies should include a significant research project or thesis. This could be the equivalent of an Australian honours degree, or a masters by research degree, or a masters by coursework with a thesis component (dissertation). It is expected that previous studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research and coursework, where applicable.

Research study requires substantial time and financial commitment. It is, therefore, important that you consider the study program carefully to ensure that you have a positive learning experience and graduate successfully.

For best outcomes ensure that your study aligns with your research interest. Determine your area of interest and preferred field of study. Explore the courses on offer. The courses list the entry requirements (admission criteria) you need to satisfy to get into the course. Check out your study load and commitments, which include attending compulsory research workshops and seminars during the semesters.

If you need any advice contact us.

2 Meet the Research Director

Before submitting an admission application intending candidates are required to have an interview with the Research Director, Professor James Harrison.

The Sydney College of Divinity Research Director provides initial guidance in respect of the desired program, qualifications for admission, the DMin coursework if relevant, the intended research topic and supervision of the research, and will remain the key contact for students in managing their progress.

Submit our online form or give us a call on any working day from Monday to Friday between 9.00am to 5.00pm AEST, to start a conversation with the Research Director about your study plans and options.

3 Develop research proposal

Carefully consider the subject of your research and find out if your interests align with any academic members of staff. At this point you need to develop an initial research proposal. While this initial proposal will probably not fully capture all the details of your final project, it is important to think seriously about it, clearly explaining your ideas about your research. It should not be a generic or a vague proposal but should be sufficient for the Research Committee to determine the general suitability of the topic and availability of appropriate resources and supervision.

The College will decline to accept an applicant if it cannot offer supervision in the proposed field of research.

4 Apply online

The next step after your interview with the Research Director and drafting your Research Proposal, would be to get your documents ready so that you can lodge your online application.  The online application allows you to save and return to your application at a later time and upload documentation.

Sydney College of Divinity accepts applications all year round, however enrolment is twice a year i.e Semester 1 and Semester 2.

We recommend that you apply at least six to eight weeks prior to the proposed start date to allow adequate time for processing your admission. International students must take into consideration the visa processing time and plan accordingly. You can start your study in any of the research periods as long as your faculty offers it.

If you are waiting for results of a study program that you have just completed, you could still submit your application, and supply the results as soon as you receive them.

5 What next

Once your online application is received with all the required documents the Research Director forwards the application for enrolment, together with the Summary of Research Intentions, to the Research Committee which grants acceptance into the program.

In the case of the MPhil, PhD and ThD, candidature is provisional until the acceptance of the Thesis Proposal by the Research Committee. In the case of the DMin, transition from coursework to thesis occurs following the achievement of commendable results in the two coursework units and acceptance of the Thesis Proposal by the Research Committee.

The thesis proposal should be developed with the guidance of the appointed supervisor and submitted within one semester, for full-time candidates, and no longer than two semesters, for part-time candidates.

As a student accepted into the program you will have to

– apply for student visa if you are an international student
– nominate your home library
– meet with your supervisor
– note key dates to attend orientation, the Research Degree Thesis Writers’ Workshop and the research seminars

In addition, students are advised to familiarise themselves with the relevant policies, the academic expectations of the enrolled program and other administrative matters that may be required of them eg. getting the student card, paying fees.

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