Research at CDU

Research is a major strength of Charles Darwin University (CDU). The quality research at CDU has been recognised in the Times Higher Education rankings 2015-2016, which place CDU in the Top 2 per cent of World Universities.

If you're thinking about becoming a research student at CDU you will have a variety of questions concerning the admission process and requirements, scholarships and more. Find out more details below.

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CDU Research website

Research programs available to International students

For help in determining if the university has a suitable Supervisor/Researcher for your chosen research topic check out the Find a Researcher pages on the CDU Research website. 

It is recommended that you make contact with the Head of School in your field of study for further assistance in determining if CDU has suitable supervision for your chosen area of study, also through the Find a Researcher pages on the CDU Research website.

Academic entry requirements

Successful completion of post-secondary studies deemed comparable to an Australian Honours or Master's degree (with a substantial research component).

Note: For more information on Honours equivalence and documentation (e.g. copies of publications), download the Honours Equivalence Checklist (pdf 91KB).

English entry requirement

IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with no band less than 6 or TOEFL 575 (TWE 5).

Note: If you have not reached the level required for entry to your chosen course, but have a minimum IELTS score of 4.0, you can apply to attend the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program at the Navitas Darwin English Centre.

Application and referee report forms

Go to the Future Students page to find out how to apply online for a Research Degree.

You must fill out a Referee Report Form (PDF 91KB) and supply a minimum of two referees
. Your referees must send these reports as soon as possible, your application cannot be assessed until they are received.

Other supporting documents

The following documents must be original certified copies, including English translation, if applicable.

Academic qualifications

  • Academic transcripts and testamurs (Final Certificate/Award) of Bachelor and/or Master degree programs completed
  • Proof of GPA (Grade Point Average) - if not indicated on the academic transcripts
  • Abstract of Thesis (including word count) in English

IELTS (Academic) or TOEFL Test Result

  • Must be valid within two years upon submission of application

Resume or Curriculum Vitae

Containing comprehensive details about work experience and list of publications, if applicable.

Research Proposal Outline

All applications must be accompanied by a brief summary (1500-1700 words) on the proposed research project. It is appreciated that many applicants will be in the middle of completing Honours, Graduate Diploma or Masters theses at the time of application, and will be unable to commit the time to writing a detailed research proposal. However it is essential that you provide the following information to enable your application to be considered:

  • project title - this is a working title for the proposed project. It will not necessarily reflect the final thesis title
  • general Field of Research - the general field of study of your research, eg. Educational Administration, Natural Resource Management
  • proposed Principal Supervisor - the CDU-based supervisor with whom you have discussed your research project
  • CDU Faculty/School - the CDU Faculty / School in which the proposed Supervisor is based
  • brief description - a brief description of the research you would like to do, including details about specific methodological techniques (this is especially important for some of the more technologically based projects where capital equipment items may be required)
  • ethical considerations - identify any ethical considerations that will require clearance by the Animal or Human Ethics Committees, eg. conducting research which involves the participation, use of, or which may impact upon, humans or animals
  • resource implications - the resource implications of your research and whether you are applying for other funding to cover any costs that will be incurred
  • field work - whether you envisage a substantial portion of your study to involve fieldwork, and if so, where? Please detail any permits and/or visas that you will require to carry out your proposed fieldwork.

Charles Darwin University offers a limited amount of scholarships each year for International students studying for a research program. To be eligible for a scholarship, you must meet both the academic and English entry requirements and submit all application documents prior to the closing date in any given year.

The outcome of the scholarship will be determined in December of each year and the successful applicant will be notified and issued with a letter of offer. The applicant will be expected to start no later than 31 March in the year for which the award is granted.

Applicants who are unsuccessful in securing a scholarship can still be offered a place in a research program as a full-fee paying student.

If you are not applying for a scholarship, you may submit your application, along with the required supporting documents (academic records and English proficiency test result) at anytime throughout the year.

Please see the Research Scholarships page for more information.

Please see the Australian Government website for information on International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS).

These Scholarships are supported by the University and are available to outstanding overseas students who have secured adequate alternative funds to cover all living, health care cover and other expenses. Alternative funds may include a Stipend Scholarship, eg. UPRS. Successful applicants must commence their studies by March 31, of the following year  unless approved otherwise.

The PIRTS are designed to augment the University's research productivity, quality and global reach by:

  • attracting high quality international researchers into funded University research projects
  • targeting high quality researchers from among our strategic partner universities in Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Timor Leste, and also from our long term research linkages with European and US universities
  • enabling access for research students with stipend scholarships from foreign governments and agencies, eg. the Chinese Scholarships Council, Chilean Government, Indonesian, Malaysian and Vietnamese governments.

PIRTS pay for research tuition fees, and where appropriate, tuition costs for a maximum 10 weeks Intensive English Language Course (ELICOS).

To be eligible, you must:

  • be commencing full-time enrolment to undertake a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at Charles Darwin University
  • be an overseas student with a secure source of funds to cover all living, health cover and other expenses
  • meet international student visa requirements as specified by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship
  • have completed a Bachelors Degree with First Class Honours or equivalent
  • have demonstrated excellence in academic or professional achievement
  • have a well prepared research proposal
  • have strong referees reports from at least two high level academic referees
  • have attained an overall IELTS of 6.5, with no band less than 6
  • be commencing full-time enrolment for the first time in a Higher Degree by Research at an Australian University
  • be undertaking study in one of the University's research priority areas
  • not hold an equivalent, or higher, research qualification
  • not be receiving any other funded course tuition scholarship.

How do I apply for a PIRTS Scholarship?

Contact the International students area for an application pack or if you have any queries about scholarships.

Note - complete applications must be received by the closing dates listed. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Please see the Research Scholarships page for more information.

The Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) is a leading environmental research institute based at Charles Darwin University in Darwin. RIEL scientists explore environmental and resource management issues in northern and central Australia and south-east Asia.

RIEL currently have exciting PhD scholarship opportunities of up to $40,000 p.a. (tax free) available for people interested in a high quality postgraduate study environment in one of the world's most distinctive and dynamic regions.

Find out more about potential research topics at the at the School of Environment's research institute RIEL.

RIEL are also open to approaches from people with original ideas that match our expertise, strategic directions and priorities.

Please see the Research Scholarships page for more information.

Only complete applications with the required supporting documents will be processed for admission.

If you have not yet taken the IELTS or TOEFL exam, then you must indicate in your application when you will sit for the test or when you will expect to submit the test result.

Your complete application documents must be submitted online.

Once your application is assessed and you are deemed to have met the entry requirements, you will be sent a letter of offer. The letter will also include the terms of agreement and further information on how to pay the fees, the student visa application process, accommodation, etc.

Accepting your offer

You need to sign and return the Terms of Agreement along with the proof of payment of fees.


Enrolment formalities will be completed by the Research Office upon your arrival. You must inform the Office of International Services of your arrival details.