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What is a research degree?

A research degree is an advanced program of study allowing you to investigate a topic with relevance to your field. Under the supervision of world-class researchers you will learn and apply advanced research methodologies to produce new knowledge and provide solutions to challenges within your discipline area.

Completing a research degree means becoming an expert in your field. It’s your opportunity to take a topic that interests you, explore it in depth, tackle intellectual, creative and practical challenges, and communicate your findings. You will also find by undertaking a research degree you will:

UniSA Researcher in a fig tree

Challenge yourself

You will need to work hard, be dedicated and think analytically at a high level.

Tackle completely new research and different research methods, or extend research already undertaken.

People in a meeting

Expand your career opportunities

A research qualification provides evidence of independent thought and the ability to manage a research project in a given timeframe.

Your research could allow you to develop a new specialisation, academic field or career.


Make your ideas public

Your research findings may be published, presented at conferences, provide a commercial return and have a positive impact on society.

Researcher in a lab

Contribute to society

Discover new methods, understandings and techniques, and solve a real-world problem.

Choice of research programs and disciplines

We offer research programs across a wide range of disciplines. You could complete a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), a Masters by Research, or a professional doctorate in a discipline that interests you.

Doctor of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs (up to four years full-time equivalent), provide training and education with the objective of producing graduates with the capacity to conduct research independently at a high level of originality and quality. By the end of the degree program, the PhD candidate will be capable of independently designing and executing original research that generates new knowledge.

Professional doctorate

A professional doctorate (three to four years full-time equivalent) is a rigorous program of advanced study and research, designed specifically to meet the needs of industry and professional groups in particular disciplines. Professional doctorates usually consist of a blend of coursework and research.

Masters by research

Masters by research programs (two years full-time equivalent) aim to train candidates in analysing their thesis topic at an advanced level, applying research methodology and techniques to contribute new knowledge to their field, under appropriate supervision.

South Australia - the perfect place to study

Named in the world’s top 10 regions to visit in the Lonely Planet guide’s 2017 Best in Travel collection, South Australia is one of Australia's best-kept secrets. UniSA is located in the state’s capital city, Adelaide – a city surrounded by parklands, pristine beaches, and the lush green hills and valleys of Australia’s premier wine regions.

With a population of just over one million people, Adelaide is renowned for its affordability and quality of life. Ranked in the top five of the world's most liveable cities in the 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit's liveability survey, it’s the perfect place to base yourself in during your studies.

Each year, South Australia hosts more than 400 food, arts and cultural events, as well as a number of prominent sporting events such as the Santos Tour Down Under cycling race.

It’s a beautiful and vibrant place to call home. 

Collaborative PhDs

Collaborative PhDs provide an opportunity for enriching the PhD experience. PhD candidates at UniSA can collaborate in a number of ways.

Short Term Research Opportunities

If you are a senior undergraduate studentpostgraduate student or research degree student from a university/institute in Australia or overseas, you may be able to undertake a short-term research project in one of the University's research concentrations.