Conversion and transfer

Information about what is involved in transferring from a Masters by Research to a PhD.

Conversion from MA to PhD

If you are enrolling in a Master of Arts and thinking of converting/transferring to a PhD then you will need to undertake PhD Coursework Workshop, Elective 1 and Elective 2 before your conversion will be approved.

Please note: The introduction of coursework in the PhD has impacted the timeline for Masters by Research students wishing to transfer to the PhD. For more information please visit the Graduate Research Hub Convert to another graduate research degree web page.

In the past, students enrolled in a Masters by Research who satisfied the initial entry requirements for a PhD could apply for Conversion to a PhD at around 9 months full-time equivalent candidature. With the introduction of PhD Coursework as a requirement of PhD progress and confirmation, Masters students seeking to convert to the PhD must complete the coursework component in preparation for conversion to the PhD and to satisfy the requirements of PhD Confirmation.

If you are enrolling in a Master of Arts by thesis, and have met the entry requirement for a PhD and wish to retain the option of conversion to a PhD at a later stage, then you must enrol in and complete the coursework component during your first year of candidature (full-time equivalent). For more information please visit the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences Master of Arts (Research) web page.

Completing the coursework component will enable you to apply for conversion to the PhD. You should discuss early and often the option of converting to a PhD with your supervisor.

Should you decide to remain in the Masters program, it is anticipated that the coursework will have provided you with written material suitable for integration into your Masters thesis.

If you are committed to completing a Master of Arts by research then you do not need to undertake coursework. However, please note that the option of conversion to a PhD would be closed off by your choice. (You can complete a Masters and then start a PhD from scratch, but if you have an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship for the Master of Arts, you need to be aware that APA scholarships only last for 3.5 years full-time enrolment.)

Full time Masters students usually apply to convert sometime between 10 months and 18 months from the commencement of their Masters. For part time students this would be between 20 months and 36 months. It is recommend that you aim to convert at the latest at the 12 month (or 24 month for part time students) point in your candidature.

You must meet the minimum requirements for entry into the PhD program to be eligible to convert, which means you must have completed at least a four-year honours degree at H2A (Melbourne University equivalent) standard or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered by the Associate Dean to be equivalent. Applicants applying to convert should have achieved an overall H1 (80-100%) or H2A (75-79%) grade in the relevant honours or masters degree.

How to apply

The application for conversion must be supported by the supervisor and the head of school (or, if the head is the supervisor, the deputy head), and forwarded to the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies for approval. In supporting an application for conversion to PhD candidature, the supervisor and head of school must assure themselves that the candidate has undoubted research ability and is likely to complete the PhD degree.

When assessing your application for conversion, schools are asked to assess whether the proposed student has the ability and skills necessary to do research at doctoral level, and whether the topic is demonstrably of doctoral dimensions. The questions schools are asked to consider are set out on the conversion application forms available above.

Please note: Students must meet the PhD entry requirement.  Applicants are normally required to have completed at least a four-year honours degree at H2A standard from an Australian university, or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered by the RHD Committee to be equivalent.

Applicants should have achieved an overall H1 (80-100%) or H2A (75-79%) grade in the relevant honours or masters degree.

PhD fieldwork

If a fieldwork component is envisaged, candidates must include a fieldwork plan (basic methodology and timetable) and a tentative fieldwork budget as part of the Conversion work plan to be eligible to apply for the Faculty's fieldwork funding scheme after conversion to the PhD. This fieldwork documentation must be submitted to your School Graduate Research Administrator along with a copy of the Confirmation Review Form.

Transfer from PhD to MA

University of Melbourne PhD candidates must complete the form.

For more information please see the Graduate Research Hub Transfer to another graduate degree web page.

Non-University of Melbourne PhD candidates must apply for the Master of Arts in the usual way.

The submission date for the Masters by Research candidature will be determined by deducting the amount of time that has lapsed at PhD level from the maximum length of candidature available at the Masters by Research level (18 months full-time). If the length of candidature undertaken at the PhD level is equal to or greater than the maximum period available at the masters by research level there are two options available to the candidate:

  1. Enrol as a Masters by research candidate for a maximum period of three months full time upon discontinuation of the PhD
  2. Discontinue their PhD candidature and submit a thesis for examination for the degree of Masters by Research to the Faculty of Arts within twelve months discontinuation from PhD candidature