About research degrees

A research degree at Deakin will help you develop the skills and qualifications that will help you thrive in any environment and enable life-long success. This is your opportunity to begin a rewarding and meaningful research career in a multi-award winning university performing research that is of world standard.

What is a research degree?

While many organisations engage in research, universities also have a unique responsibility to provide research training. This is done in research degree programs including PhD and Masters degrees (more formally, these are called higher degrees by research, or HDR).

The award of a research degree requires the student to satisfactorily complete an approved program of research under the guidance of a supervision team within a prescribed time period. The results of the research are incorporated into a thesis which is submitted for examination at the end of the program. The thesis must be a self-contained, integrated, and coherent body of work which constitutes a substantial original contribution to knowledge as judged by independent experts.

All research degrees at Deakin meet Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) standards. The key reasons for having AQF qualifications are to ensure national recognition and consistency as well as common understanding across Australia of what defines each qualification. They are also recognised by other countries. Further information on learning outcomes can be obtained from HDR Course Learning Outcomes (PDF, 535.7 KB) and the AQF website.

Students enrolled in a research degree program will develop research skills which include:

  • the ability to formulate a significant research problem
  • the ability to relate the research to the broader framework of knowledge in the area
  • the mastery of appropriate skills to tackle the problem
  • the ability to describe the new knowledge that is gained in exploring the problem.

Undertaking a research degree requires a greater commitment of time than a coursework degree. The actual commitment is likely to depend on a number of factors, including the stage of your project, but a full-time student should expect to commit at least 36 hours per week for 48 weeks of the year. The expectation for a part-time student is half: at least 18 hours per week for 48 weeks of the year. There may be periods when a significantly greater commitment is required. You are encouraged strongly to discuss the time commitments with your prospective supervisor before you apply.

Types of research degrees

Deakin offers three types of higher degrees by research:

  • Masters by Research
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Psychology (DPsych)

A Masters by Research degree is awarded for an original contribution to knowledge achieved in up to two years of full-time candidature (or two to four years of part-time candidature). Usually a written thesis of not more than 50,000 words is submitted, although the thesis may be presented in several formats.

Doctoral degrees are awarded for a substantial original contribution to knowledge achieved in the expected completion time of 3 years, with a time limit of 4 years. The thesis may be presented in several formats and is usually limited 100,000 words.

In the case of both Masters by Research and PhD degrees, the program may include some coursework, but the focus of the degree is on research.

The School of Psychology also provides the following specialist professional doctorate programs: Doctor of Psychology (Clinical), and Doctor of Psychology (Health) . These combine a research project, coursework and structured research tasks which are specifically related to professional practice and are often carried out in the workplace.

Deakin also offers four higher doctorates:

A higher doctorate is the University's most prestigious degree and is awarded on the basis of a collection of works that have been published or accepted for publication. Typically a person seeks a higher doctorate in mid-career, having held a doctorate such as a PhD for 15 or 20 years. The material submitted is a collection of the major publications during that period. A higher doctorate usually involves upwards of forty or fifty peer-reviewed publications with submissions of a hundred works being not uncommon. The works have already passed the test of suitability for publication, and so the role of the examiners is to judge whether they confirm that the applicant is an authority in the field.

Deakin offers four higher doctorates: the degrees of Doctor of Engineering (DEng), Doctor of Letters (DLitt), Doctor of Laws (LLD) and Doctor of Science (DSc).

Applicants for a higher doctorate must be one of the following:

  • a Deakin graduate
  • a current Deakin staff member
  • a former Deakin staff member
  • a graduate of a partner institution*
  • a current staff member of a partner institution*
  • * An institution with which Deakin has an active partnership as determined by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

The Regulation and Higher Doctorates Procedure provide further information about higher doctorates, including the admission process. All higher doctorate applicants must complete a higher doctorate application form (DOTX, 43.1KB).

Please contact the Higher Degrees by Research office if you have further questions.

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