Higher degree by research (HDR) programs at UQ include the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and the Doctor of Biotechnology (DBiotech). HDR students produce new knowledge and expertise that is innovative, relevant and progressive. 

What qualifications do I need?

UQ recognises that sometimes people have work experience that can prepare them for and contribute greatly to a higher degree by research. The UQ Graduate School assesses people on an individual basis and respects a diverse range of qualifications and experiences that make someone suitable for research studies. Make sure you review UQ’s entry requirements and read through the details of what relevant experience or relevant research experience mean.
UQ’s encourages applications from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples to undertake a higher degree by research. These scholarships are competitive and you will be assessed on the basis of your application.

If you are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and fit any of the descriptions below you should consider applying for scholarship:

  • You have work experience at a senior level of at least five years where you can demonstrate that you have planned and executed a project, have produced high level written reports, and have worked with a high level of independence; or
  • You have a bachelor’s degree and work experience of at least two years where you can demonstrate that you have planned and executed a project, working with a high level of independence; or
  • A bachelor’s degree with honours from approved universities, which should include a relevant research component.
  • At least two years’ work experience in your proposed field of study and a supporting Graduate Certificate; or
  • Any other entry criteria outlined under the UQ Graduate School entry requirements

Applications will be assessed against the program applied for, but applicants may sometimes be provided with an alternative program offer depending on their qualifications and experience. Students who have applied for a PhD, but have been offered entry in to a MPhil may be able to transfer to a PhD at a later date, dependent on the successful completion of key milestones.


The process for applying for a higher degree by research is more involved than applying for a coursework program. It is important to find a supervisor who can mentor you through your research. Please contact the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit or the UQ Graduate School for assistance with the application process, finding a supervisor or any other questions or queries.

Why do a higher degree by research?

There are many reasons to undertake a Higher Degree by Research (HDR). Many people say they do a HDR because:

  • They love research!
  • It is a qualification of expertise in their chosen field.
  • It enhances their career prospects in industry or academia
  • It builds on their skill base to contribute to and create change in their chosen field.
  • It empowers them and their community.
  • It helps them to assist Indigenous communities in diverse ways.
  • It builds Indigenous voices in research in Australia (contributing Indigenous research methodologies)
  • They can contribute to Indigenous research methodologies
  • People with a PhD generally earn more over their lifetime and have a higher rate of employment, compared with people who do not hold this degree.

An HDR is a commitment for a number of years and gives you the opportunity to concentrate on an area of research you are interested in. The website Pathways to Postgraduate Study provides a number of real examples of students' experiences transitioning into, and successfully completing their higher degree by reserach.