Doctor of Philosophy

Applications for February 2024 are now open!

Applications for Cairnmillar’s PhD Doctor of Philosophy can be submitted year-round. View the entry requirements below.

Key Facts

Course Code: RS101
Location: Hawthorn East
Study Load: Full-time (3-4 years)
Part-time (6-8 years)
Delivery Mode: In-Person
Intake: Anytime
Application Type: Domestic only
Fees: $28,000* domestic
FEE-HELP: Yes (if self-funded)
CRICOS code: N/A
Post-nominal: PhD

Course Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a doctorate degree by research, meaning that the holder has undertaken a substantial piece of original research. The research has been conducted and reported by the holder via the thesis, under academic supervision and in a research environment for a prescribed period. Examiners have also declared the thesis to be a significant and original contribution to knowledge, demonstrating the student’s capacity to carry out independent research.

A PhD candidate must be an enrolled student of the Institute and is required to carry out a prescribed program of research for a specified period under the guidance of at least two supervisors. The candidate, under the guidance of the supervisor(s), is responsible for developing the research program to be followed.

The thesis makes a distinct contribution to knowledge. Its contribution to knowledge rests on originality of approach and / or interpretation of the findings and, in some cases, the discovery of new facts. The thesis demonstrates an ability to communicate research findings effectively in the professional arena and in an international context. It is a careful, rigorous and sustained piece of work demonstrating that a research ‘apprenticeship’ is complete, and the holder is admitted to the community of scholars in the discipline.

What more does this course offer you?

  • High quality teaching and learning experiences with mentors who are experienced and well-published researchers.
  • Access to a wide range of expertise from across the Institute.
  • Opportunity to develop and strengthen your research abilities for future career opportunities in academia, industry, and policy.
  • Training in advanced statistical design and research methodology.

2023 Course Information Session

Please note: Cairnmillar’s courses are subject to minimum and maximum group numbers. Courses may be cancelled or postponed if minimum numbers are not achieved by the start date of the course. Courses may close prior to the start date if the maximum numbers are reached. In that situation, eligible applicants will be offered a place in the next available intake.

Application Period

Applications for this program can be submitted at any time. Please see the Entry Requirements for relevant documents and information required.

Course Structure

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) course has been designed to be completed as a full-time or part-time course. The structure for each is indicated below, with the inclusion of a (non-credit) thesis marking extension period.

A full-time student will normally complete within 6 to 8 semesters (3 – 4 years). A part-time student will normally complete within 12 to 16 semesters (6 – 8 years).

PhD students enrol in the same Thesis unit each semester, until a minimum of 300 credit points have been completed. All units are formally completed at the end of the thesis assessment process.

PhDX PhD Thesis Marking Extension 0
Unit Code Unit Name Credit Points
PHD950 PhD Thesis Full-Time (6 x semesters) 50
PHD925 PhD Thesis Part-Time (12 x semesters) 25
PHD901 Research Methods and Statistical Training 1 0 (hurdle requirement)
PHD902 Research Methods and Statistical Training 2 0 (hurdle requirement)


Entry Requirements

Applications are submitted through Cairnmillar’s Application Portal. For detailed instructions, please visit our How to Apply page.

Applicants must have one of the following:

  1. A four-year (AQF level 8) Bachelors degree with Honours, with a minimum weighted average of 78
  2. A Masters (AQF level 9) degree with a minimum weighted average of 78
  3. Qualification(s) and professional experience considered to be equivalent.

Further documentation required in the application:

  • Most recent academic transcripts.
  • A current curriculum vitae.
  • A personal statement of 1-2 pages outlining your reasons for undertaking a PhD.
  • A research plan of 800-1200 words, proposing a research area and what your study design and research questions would be.
  • Endorsement from a prospective Cairnmillar supervisor.
  • Three referee’s contact details.
  • Proof of residency/citizenship (e.g., passport, birth certificate, or citizenship certificate)

Graduate Learning Outcomes

Satisfactory completion of the Doctor of Philosophy will enable candidates to:

  • Demonstrate advanced understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the frontier of their field of study, including knowledge that constitutes an original substantial contribution, and to reflect critically on and evaluate that knowledge to synthesise new and original advances.
  • Design, conduct, analyse, and communicate a complex investigation of original research for external examination against international standards, using established research methodologies.
  • Generate original knowledge and understanding that makes a substantial contribution to the discipline and disseminate and promote new insight to other scholars and the broader community.
  • Demonstrate adaptability, autonomy, leadership, authoritative judgement, initiative, resilience, and responsibility as an expert and leading scholar.

The Institute provides a variety of opportunities in addition to the supervised research program, to facilitate a candidate’s acquisition of these attributes.

Fees & Scholarships


2023 fees schedule** Domestic International
Annual full-time tuition (1 year) $7,000 $28,000
Minimum course total (3 years full-time or 6 years part-time) $21,000 $84,000
Estimated course total (4 years full-time) $28,000 $112,000


**Total fees are estimates only based on the current fee schedule. Annual tuition fee review and possible increases applies, see: Fees & Scholarships.

For information on tuition fees and what scholarships might apply to this course, please visit the Fees & Scholarships page.


Career Opportunities & Study Pathways

Successful completion can see graduates enter a career in academia, research in an industry setting, policy development and/or private research consultancy.


The Doctor of Philosophy is a highly regarded degree that attests to the holder’s expertise in a specific area of study. The program sits at level 10 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Expert research skills are developed throughout this degree, to suit a number of professional positions to which experience with specific research methodologies are valuable.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

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