Recruitment, selection and admission

About recruitment, selection and admission

Higher Degree by Research Programs (HDR), including the PhD, MPhil and research professional doctorates, offer students the opportunity to receive research training and career development in order to develop into early career researchers who are able to enter into a range of careers. These students provide enormous benefit to the University and can be an advantageous addition to projects but first and foremost are students seeking an education to become a researcher. The decision to agree to supervise a research student should be made carefully, taking into a range of considerations such as the ability to commit adequate time, provide necessary expertise, and the capacity to support and fund the proposed project and student. The role and responsibilities of advisors are outlined in the policy.

If you are new to UQ, or new to advising, you will need to be registered on the advisor registry  before you are able to be approved as a Principal Advisor. If you are new to advising you should ensure there is a colleague on the advisory team with you who has experience supervising research students.

At UQ, HDR programs are all administered by the Graduate School. Program details, including entry requirements, duration, program rules and assessment (examination requirements) can be viewed on the Graduate School Programs page.

Note that enrolment in the PhD and MPhil is structured in research quarters with commencement possible in the first 2 weeks of each research quarter (January, April, July, October). International students must commence in the first 14 days of each research quarter to adhere to immigration and visa requirements. The last date to withdraw without fee liability (census date) is the first day of the second month of each research quarter (1 February, 1 May, 1 August, 1 November). This is also the day that enrolments are finalised for government reporting purposes. Fixed commencements enable students to commence as a cohort and receive structured orientation and induction experiences as well as ensuring the best use of scholarship funds and to manage fee liability.


Research students can be recruited in a number of ways. See separate scholarship section for details of funding. Applicants should first make contact with you as their prospective advisor to discuss their suitability and shape a research project proposal. You should consider any key dates for scholarship rounds or schemes, as well as if the applicant is likely to be competitive. Only encourage them to apply if you believe they are a suitable candidate. If they are domestic applicant without a scholarship please consider the application timelines when considering their commencement date. 

Some students will apply as an individual with a project idea or interest that connects with a researcher, others also apply for an advertised project. Project can be advertised with a scholarship on the UQ scholarships website, or without an attached scholarship on your school or institute website.  Applicants may contact you with a pre-approved external funding source from a sponsor. These may have restrictions on project scope, timing and funding, and should be considered carefully.  Applicants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island origin are encouraged to apply and additional information and options are provided to assist these applicants.

All applicants must submit an application to UQ via the Online Application (OLA) system, following the instructions on how to apply

We recommend you allow at least 3 months for recruitment and selection of a domestic student and up to 7 months to recruit an international student for commencement. The recruitment process will include:

  • advertisement (2~4 weeks),
  • application collation (4+ weeks. This includes referee reports, supervisor and School/Institute sign off),
  • assessment and offer (8 weeks) and
  • visa processing time.

Additional time may be required if you are waiting for outcomes of a scholarship round.

Additionally, international applicants must adhere to the Department of Home Affairs Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) framework, and applicants from some countries may be required to meet additional criteria. UQ has noted many international students coming from particular countries or regions have been experiencing significant delays in obtaining their visa. Depending on the country, visa processing can delay the start date by 4 to 6 months on average.


All applicants must be interviewed (via video conferencing if necessary) to better determine the applicant’s fit, motivations and capabilities. Applicants from certain countries may be required to answer additional questions under the GTE framework. Once selected as suitable, the Principal Advisor will complete the recommendation form in the OLA. There must also be at least one Associate advisor listed at this stage. This is then considered by your Director of Higher Degree Research (DHDR). Your DHDR will check that the candidate and project align with the strategies of the Unit and also that the advisory team is suitable and there is adequate resourcing to support the project and the student. Once endorsed by the DHDR, this then is received by the Graduate School who will undertake a full assessment for eligibility for admission. This includes academic background, experience, and evidence of English proficiency if relevant. English language proficiency (ELP) can be deemed to be met on the basis of prior study and/or work in an English speaking environment. Applicants from some countries, due to GTE requirements, may not be able to be deemed for ELP and will require a current test result.

If an applicant is from a country listed on the autonomous or UNSC sanctions list, a form will need to be completed by the Principal Advisor and the project will need to be reviewed to ensure it is compliant with these regulations. If not, amendment to the project may be needed.


Once an applicant is deemed to be eligible and any scholarship (or funding) is confirmed, an offer letter is issued for enrolment into the program and also for the scholarship (if applicable) must be accepted. At this stage a number of applicants will also be asked to assign Intellectual Property to UQ, if required. This is done via a Deed Poll and additional information is provided to assist applicants to understand this process.

To avoid the need to reissue offers, we will provide an offer for the most likely commencement date, taking in to account visa processing times. If an applicant cannot commence in the research quarter offered, they may request a deferral to the following research quarter. 

Once an applicant has accepted their offer it is advisable to maintain contact and plan together their start date and your first meeting on campus. The candidate will be provided with information, including accommodation and services and information about living in Brisbane  and student support services. Candidates need to be aware they must make contact with their HDR Liaison Officer (HLO) when they arrive to officially commence enrolment and activate scholarship payments, via payroll, which can take up to 4 weeks to be paid into their Australian bank account. The Graduate School provides a guide to assist new candidates plan their first week to get off to a good start.