HDR Application Procedure

HDR Application Procedure


To specify how applications for HDR candidature are to be made.


These requirements apply to applicants for higher degree by research offered by the University.


Terms mentioned in this document and not defined here are defined in the Glossary of Terms for Policies in the Student and Teaching and Course Management chapters of the University Policy Library and in the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Requirements.


A person wishing to gain entry to and enrolment in a Higher Degree by Research at James Cook University must follow the procedures outlined below and at the GRS ‘How to Apply’ webpage.

1. Application Procedure

1.1 Prospective applicants must first identify a Primary Advisor in their area of research interest using the JCU Research Portfolio.  Enquiries regarding potential advisors may also be directed to the relevant College or Research Centre.

1.2 The prospective applicant should submit an Expression of Interest to the proposed Primary Advisor. A formal Expression of Interest may not be required if the prospective applicant is already known to the proposed Primary Advisor (e.g. former supervisor).

1.3 The potential Primary Advisor is strongly advised to interview the prospective applicant at least by video or teleconference.

1.4 The Primary Advisor is to respond to a formal Expression of Interest or provide advice to the HDR Administrator within their College who may respond on the Advisor's behalf.

1.5 An Advisor may decline to supervise a prospective applicant for reasons including, but not limited to, the following:

  • A lack of supervisory capacity due to current or expected supervisory commitments
  • The applicant’s research not matching their own expertise, experience or research plans
  • Concerns regarding the applicants’ suitability for or readiness to undertake the proposed research degree
  • The Advisor’s anticipated employment at the University not aligning with the timeframe for the proposed degree (e.g. duration of contract, retirement plans)
  • Concerns regarding the applicant’s capacity to comply with the UN and Australian Autonomous Sanctions legislation.

1.6 When a Primary Advisor has informally agreed to supervise a prospective applicant, APP_FORM_01 Higher Degree by Research Application Form should be completed.

1.7 Applications must be made through the University’s online application system, eStudent, where APP_FORM_01 Higher Degree by Research Application Form and all supporting documentation in the Checklist for Submission of an Application should also be submitted.

1.8 Once a complete application has been received, the Graduate Research School will ensure the information provided is sufficient for the application to be assessed. International applicants will also be assessed for English Language Proficiency and Australian qualification equivalence. If the applicant is from a country that is subject to United Nations and Australian Autonomous Sanctions, the Graduate Research School will initiate the relevant risk assessment procedure.

1.9 The complete application and APP-FORM-02 HDR Application Assessment & Outcome form will be forwarded by the Graduate Research School to the appropriate College for assessment.

1.10 The College Dean (or their nominee) will provide their endorsement of the application and send the APP-FORM-02 HDR Application Assessment & Outcome form to the Graduate Research School.

1.11 The Dean, Graduate Research will determine the outcome of the application and applications will be forwarded to the Admissions Office.

1.12 If an applicant is successful in their application the Admissions Office ensure that International applicants have met all compliance requirements, then prepare an Offer for the degree program.  If the applicant was not successful in their application, they will be notified that their application has been declined.  The Offer for Admission or Offer Declined notification will be sent to the applicant via the email address specified in their application and will be copied to the nominated Advisors and College.  Where an application has been declined, the applicant will be provided with justification for this outcome, e.g. insufficient research capacity or lack of supervisory capacity.

1.13 Where an application has been declined, the applicant may appeal the decision in writing to the Dean, Graduate Research within ten (10) University working days of notification of the outcome. In their appeal the applicant must outline why they believe the decision should be reconsidered. The Dean, Graduate Research may refer the matter to other parties, such as the relevant Associate Dean, Research Education or the Research Education Sub-Committee Executive. The decision of the Dean, Graduate Research will be final and will be relayed to the applicant within twenty (20) University working days of the appeal request being received.

NOTE: At any stage of the procedure, the Primary Advisor, Dean of College or nominee or Dean of Graduate Research or nominee may:

  • Ask for more information from an applicant or their primary advisor
  • Decline an application
  • Recommend specific conditions of offer or enrolment
  • Offer an alternative degree to the applicant.

1.14 An applicant who wishes to change or amend their Offer for Admission should contact the University Admissions Centre in writing prior to the expiry date of the Offer for Admission to specify the change or amendment being sought.

1.15 Applicants who are not able to start their enrolment by the commencement date specified on the Offer for Admission should contact the University Admissions Centre to determine a new commencement date. Where applicants are unable to start within six months of the original specified commencement date the Offer may be rescinded.

1.16 An applicant may request that the commencement date specified in their Offer for Admission be deferred by up to a maximum of twelve (12) months by writing to the University Admissions Centre. The request for a deferral may be denied if the original conditions of the Offer for Admission cannot be met at the proposed amended commencement date, e.g. the availability of the Advisors cannot be assured or the required resources will no longer be available.

1.17 The Offer for Admission will specify a date by which the applicant must formally indicate their acceptance of the Offer. Failure to accept the Offer by the specified date may result in the Offer being rescinded.

1.18 International applicants must meet the University requirements, such as the payment of fees, for a Confirmation of Enrolment to be issued in order to apply for an Australian visa.

1.19 An applicant whose Offer expires or is rescinded may be required to submit a new application, where it is determined by the Dean, Graduate Research that the original application is no longer sufficiently relevant.

Approval Details

Procedure custodian:

Dean, Graduate Research

Approval authority:


Version no.:


Date for next review:

March 2019

Modification History

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date



21 March 2016

29 March 2016