Higher Degrees by Research

JCU's Indigenous research programs offer students the possibility to contribute to a changing agenda in Indigenous research. Our student cohort includes students who have completed their undergraduate studies in a range of disciplines including Education, Laws, Social Work, English and Literature and Science. In our programs you will develop confidence in navigating Indigenous and non-Indigenous standpoints, creating new approaches to complex issues. You will receive guidance from our extended advisory family, giving you space to innovate with structures to support you.

There are two programs on offer depending on your previous studies. Students who have completed an undergraduate degree can apply to enrol in the Master of Philosophy (Indigenous), a two year degree. Students who have previously completed an Honours or Master by Research degree, or postgraduate coursework with a significant research component may be eligible to enrol directly in the Doctor of Philosophy (Indigenous). Students who would like to refresh their academic skills, extend their knowledge of Indigenous issues or require a higher Grade Point Average to apply for a Higher Degree by Research may choose to undertake a Graduate Certificate of Indigenous Studies first.

With your advisors, you will develop your thesis topic from a broad range of areas, relevant to your professional qualifications and interests. Research areas include but are not limited to:

  • Indigenous studies
  • Indigenous education
  • Indigenous community development
  • Indigenous knowledges
  • Indigenous cultures
  • Indigenous intersections with other disciplines


The Master of Philosophy (Indigenous) offers an innovative approach to research education, combining structured intensives with experienced supervision in a supportive environment. The MPhil (Indigenous) is specifically designed to assist Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in navigating the interface of Western and Indigenous scholarly standpoints in research projects.

You will undertake two research intensives where you will work with peers and advisors to learn about Indigenous research, develop your research skills and advance your project. Following the intensives, you will meet regularly with your experienced advisors to discuss your research progress, culminating in the presentation of a thesis. You will develop a research question and investigate a  small-scale research project honing your skills along the way.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Indigenous) will allow you to advance your research by investigating original research questions to establish a critical position about your unique topic. Work within the intersection of Indigenous and Western knowledge to identify new approaches to complex issues.

Your candidature will be structured through a series of specialised Indigenous research intensives and support from highly experienced advisors. You will identify a novel approach to explore a real world issue, develop a research question, design and implement your project, and analyse the findings. This work will allow you to develop a proposition that contributes to existing understandings through the completion of a PhD (Indigenous) thesis.

Gain the confidence and independence you need to complete your research with the Master & Doctor of Philosophy (Indigenous) intensives.

The first 6-day intensive, held at the commencement of your candidature, is designed to step students through the processes of how to undertake research. This dynamic and innovative program helps students understand literature reviews and allows collaboration between student peers and advisors.

The second 6-day intensive is held after your first six months of candidature. In this week, students will learn more about developing an appropriate approach and methods to their project. This intensive will help students to understand the theory and practice of undertaking research within the exciting and complex field of Indigenous Studies.

Enrolment Information

The MPhil and PhD (Indigenous) are supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program. Domestic students can access this course fee free*.

*Student Services and Amenities (SSA) fees apply

For information on living stipends, click here.

For more information and to discuss enrolment, please contact ierc.hdr@jcu.edu.au. You should attach:

  • A short description of the project you would like to investigate
  • Your CV
  • Your academic transcripts

The duration of a Master of Philosophy (Indigenous) is 2 years full-time, or the part-time equivalent.

The duration of a Doctor of Philosophy (Indigenous) is 4 years full-time, or the part-time equivalent.

You can enrol in these programs as an internal or external student. These programs currently have an annual enrolment intake.

Visit the Graduate Research School website for more information about higher degrees by research.