Policy HDR Application Procedure

HDR Application Procedure

Print Friendly and PDFPrint Friendly


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’ web page.

1. Application Procedure

1.1 Prior to submitting a formal HDR application, prospective applicants are encouraged to assess their eligibility against the Entry Requirements (Clause 1.1) in the HDR Requirements.

Prior to submitting a formal application, prospective applicants must first engage with a Primary Advisor in their area of research interest. This can be done in various ways including, but not exclusive to the following:

  • using the JCU Research Portfolio to find a Primary Advisor in your area of research interest and contacting them directly to confirm they agree to take on the role.
  • Using the Available Projects page to find a project of interest to you then contact the lead investigator directly to confirm they agree to take on the role.
  • Submitting an Expression of Interest outlining your research interests to be connected with an appropriate Advisor.
  • Contacting an Advisor already known to you (e.g. former advisor) to confirm they agree to take on the role

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 time frame 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.  In the online application the applicant must:

  • Submit APP_FORM_01 Higher Degree by Research Application Form
  • submit all supporting documentation in the Checklist for Submission of an Application
  • Indicate whether they wish to be considered for a centrally funded Postgraduate Research Scholarship (note, only one application per applicant is required to be considered for admission and for all scholarships for which they are eligible, starting with that of the highest value).
  • If you are transferring and seeking recognition of prior learning should apply for such recognition as specified in the HDR Recognition of Prior Learning Procedure and include this with your application documentation.

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 that the candidate is eligible for admission into the degree (APP-FORM-02),  as well as provide an assessment for the scholarship application on the Scholarship Scoring Sheet if the candidate has indicated they wish to be considered for a centrally funded scholarship.  The APP-FORM-02 HDR Application Assessment & Outcome form and Scholarship Scoring Sheet (if relevant) must be sent back to the Graduate Research School.

1.11 The Dean, Graduate Research will determine the outcome of eligibility of admission of an application, and advice of this outcome will be forwarded by the GRS to the Admissions Office.  Where the applicant has also indicated they wish to be considered for a centrally funded Postgraduate Research Scholarship, the Scholarship Scoring Sheet will be assessed as per the Scholarship Scoring Procedure.

1.12 If an applicant is successful in their application for admission to a HDR 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 for admission to a HDR, 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 for admission 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.

Related policy instruments



NOTE: Printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy Domain

Research Education

Policy Sponsor

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research

Approval Authority

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research

Date for next Major Review

May 2020

Revision History

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date


20-1 29 October 2020 29 October 2020 Add Recognition of Prior Learning Link 


16 June 2019 16 June 2019

Merge candidature and scholarship applications



21 March 2016

29 March 2016


Contact personDean, Graduate Research