Next Step - Graduate research
The University of Melbourne is one of the country’s leading research universities.
Doing research here can open doors to many future careers, not least of which could be in the field you choose to study. To help you think about whether a research higher degree is your next step, here are some tips to help you start researching about research!
For more information about why you should choose to do graduate research at Melbourne, visit Future Students.
You can also check the Graduate Research Hub to give you more of an idea about what's required from graduate researchers.
Graduate research experience
- Madhavi A. Colton, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Zoology
What I have appreciated most about my experiences at the University of Melbourne has been the opportunity to work and interact with so many intelligent and motivated students and researchers. Talking with my colleagues has allowed me to not only refine my PhD research, but also my career goals.
Preparing for research
Doing a research degree means that you will become an expert in your field. It also means you will be examined on your capacity to produce quality written work that makes a genuine contribution to scholarship. Thinking about what you want to devote your time, mind and energy to can be a difficult decision.
Here are some questions to help you start thinking about the realities of being a research student:
- Do you have an idea of your research interests?
- Do you want to construct your own topic, or join a research project?
- Do you want to work on your own or in a team?
- How will you support yourself financially?
- What do you want to do research for – a career, a qualification, a passion?
- Is the supervisor you want available?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What will you need to improve to achieve your research degree?
- What support is available?
Talk to people
Before you get started, talk to as many people as possible about what a research degree entails:
- Your lecturers – nearly all your lecturers will also be conducting research in their chosen field. They can help you think about the topics you might consider for a Masters or PhD, and they can also help you think about the scale of your project – is it worth 18 months of research, or 3 years? Will it contribute to a defined problem, or bring a significant contribution to world knowledge?
- Possible supervisors – if you’ve already done a thesis or research project, you’ll know that your supervisor is one of the most important people you’ll work with over the course of your research. Find out what their strengths are: is it content, method, theory or project management? Many students travel from overseas to work with a particular expert. Have a think about who you want to work with, and why. Is the individual available to supervise you?
- Research colleagues – if there are any research centres in your department or faculty, there are sure to be professional researchers! Find out from them what a career in research looks like, and how a research higher degree can get you where you want to go. If you’ve had the chance to go to a conference, make sure you ask colleagues there about research, as well.
- Current PhD or Masters by research candidates in your faculty or graduate school - as candidates currently involved in their own research higher degrees, these people are ideally suited to provide advice about the experience of intensive research, how they came to be where they are and the benefits that research can bring.
- Professionals – speak to people who’ve done a research degree and are now working in their field. Whether their work is directly related to their research topic, or more broadly uses the project skills they have earned through their higher degree, they will have unique insight into what it means to use a higher degree qualification in the workplace.
- Faculties and grad schools – many of our faculties and grad schools administer their own research degrees. As well as checking out the Graduate Research Hub website, make sure you also speak to the advisers in the relevant schools. See the list of Graduate Schools for contact details.
- Friends and family – someone, somewhere, will want to know what you’re thinking of doing, and how they will support you through the research experience! Researching is intense and extremely rewarding, but it can also be complex and confusing. Speak to friends and family about what you’re thinking and how you might go about choosing whether research is right for you.
Graduate Research Programs
The University of Melbourne offers graduate research opportunities at masters and doctoral level. The PhD and masters degrees by research are available in all disciplines. Professional doctorates are offered in a limited range of fields.
For more information about research programs, visit the Future Students Research website.
Scholarships and support
There are a wide range of scholarships available to graduate research students, offered through the Melbourne Scholarships Program, industry and government programs, and by individual faculties and departments. For more information on graduate research scholarships, visit Melbourne Scholarships or contact the relevant Graduate School.
In addition to the scholarships available, you will still have access to the University's full of range of Student Services, including Financial Aid and Housing, the Counselling and Health Services and many others. For a full range of available student services, see the Services Finder.
Applying for a research program requires quite a lot of preparation. It is up to you to identify and approach a potential supervisor and to see if they would be willing to take you on. This means you will need to have a pretty good idea of what it is you would like to research. The Future Students website has more information on what is required when making an application for a research program