Course conversion

Information about what is involved in converting from a MA to a PhD and PhD to MA.

Conversion from Master of Arts – Research (MA) to Doctor of Philosophy – Arts (PhD)

If you are enrolling in the MA and thinking of converting to a PhD, then you will need to undertake PhD Coursework (Intensive Research Workshop, Researching Stream, 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 MA graduate researchers wishing to transfer to the PhD. For more information please visit the Graduate Research Hub Transfer to another graduate research degree web page.

In the past, graduate researchers enrolled in a MA 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, MA graduate researchers 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 the MA, 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 Master of Arts (Thesis Only) 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 MA program, it is anticipated that the coursework will have provided you with written material suitable for integration into your MA thesis.

If you are committed to completing the MA then you do not need to undertake coursework. However, please note that the option of conversion to the PhD would be closed off by your choice. (You can complete a MA and then start a PhD from scratch, but if you have an Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) Stipend Scholarship for the MA, you need to be aware that AGRTP 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 Deputy 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

Request Course Conversion form

The application for conversion must be supported by the supervisor and the Head of School and forwarded to the Deputy 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 graduate researchers 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: Applicants 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, applicants 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 Doctor of Philosophy – Arts to Master of Arts

University of Melbourne PhD candidates must complete the form.

Request Course Conversion form

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