Enrolment, leave and changes to candidature

During your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) you will enrol each year, take leave and may make changes to your candidature.

New HDR coursework curriculum

RMIT is introducing a new coursework curriculum into all HDR programs that will give candidates access to an increased suite of core and optional courses. Changes to College of Business and Law HDR programs come into effect from Semester 2 2022. Changes to College of Design and Social Context and College of STEM HDR programs come into effect from Semester 1 2023. For more information, go to New HDR Curriculum.

Candidature consumption 

Candidature consumption refers to how the time left in your HDR reduces as you progress. 

Your candidature will start consuming from your research start date. Confirm your start date with your supervisory team. If you complete your enrolment after this date, your start date will become the date you complete the online enrolment process. 

As an HDR candidate you will consume candidature, except: 

  • During periods of approved leave of absence
  • If you cancel your enrolment in the program 
  • If RMIT cancels your enrolment for any reason 
  • After submission for examination.
     

Enrolment 

Enrolment in an HDR involves your initial program enrolment, enrolment in the research component of your HDR and enrolment in compulsory and optional coursework. You must enrol through Enrolment Online when you start your HDR and each year during the enrolment period (October to December). 
 

Admission and initial enrolment 

Once you accept your offer to study at RMIT, follow the Higher Degrees by Research Enrolment Guide to secure your place. 
 

Research enrolment 

You must enrol into the research component of your HDR in Enrolment Online. These courses represent your research and the time that you spend with your supervisors. 

Full-time candidates must enrol into research courses with a total of 24 credit points per quarter (96 credit points for the year). Part-time candidates must enrol into research courses with a total of total 12 credit points per quarter (48 credit points per year). 

The research courses will be preselected for you. All you need to do is click ‘Enrol’ in Enrolment Online during the enrolment period (October to December). Don’t change the courses yourself. 
 

Coursework 

Once you have accepted your offer, you’ll be asked to nominate any compulsory or optional courses you’d like to enrol in for that year. In particular: 
 

Research methods/strategies 

All HDR programs (Master by Research and PhD) at RMIT have a discipline-specific research methods or research strategies course. This course must be completed prior to your Confirmation of Candidature (CoC) milestone (most candidates complete it in their first 6 months). 
 

Research impact

All PhD level programs at RMIT, and Master by Research programs in School of Engineering and School of Computing Technologies, have a discipline-specific research impact course. This course must be completed prior to your second milestone review (or prior to CoC in College of Business and Law PhD programs and prior to your third milestone review in College of Business and Law Master by Research programs).

Some HDR programs require additional compulsory coursework, such as PhD level programs in the STEM disciplines. Contact Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal for more information. 
 

Optional coursework

There are several optional research courses available to all HDR candidates, except candidates enrolled in MR233 Master of Applied Science (Health & Medical Physics). You can enrol, with approval from your Senior Supervisor, after you have completed your research methods/strategies course. Forward their approval to Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal
 

University research electives

As well as optional courses, all HDR candidates – except those enrolled in MR233 Master of Applied Science (Health & Medical Physics) and College of Business and Law Master by Research programs – have access to a maximum of 12 credit points worth of University research electives.

A University research elective lets you:

  • Add value to your program/degree
  • Pursue an interest that will further your research
  • Explore an area that is new to you.
     

List of University research electives

Click the title of the course to view the course guide.

Entrepreneurship in Research

  • Delivered by School of Engineering in STEM College
  • It is recommended that this course be taken after completing the Second Milestone.

Qualitative Research Methods

  • Delivered by School of Global, Urban and Social Studies in DSC College
  • It is recommended that this course be taken after 'Doing Research' and before the Second Milestone.

Quantitative Research Techniques

  • Delivered by School of Science in STEM College
  • It is recommended that this course be taken after completing a discipline-specific research methods course.

Creative Practice Research

  • Delivered by School of Architecture and Urban Design in DSC College
  • This course can be taken prior to the First or Second Milestone.

Critical and Social Theory

  • Delivered by School of Education in DSC College
  • It is recommended that this course be taken before the Secinnd Milestone.

Bioinformatics and Multi-Omics Data Analysis

  • Delivered by School of Health and Biomedical Sciences in STEM College
  • It is highly recommended that this course be taken at an early stage of your PhD candidature, preferably before the Second Milestone.

Digital Technologies

  • Delivered by School of Computing Technologies in STEM College
  • It is recommended that this course is taken before the Second Milestone.
     

To enrol in a University research elective:

  1. Explore the range of University research electives listed above
  2. Discuss your choice with your supervisory team
  3. Advise your Research Training Services Team which course you would like to take, and they will process your enrolment for you. You can advise your Research Training Services Team by logging a job via the Student Connect portal or phoning the appropriate number below:
    • College of Business and Law Research Training Services: +61 3 9925 0504
    • College of Design and Social Context Research Training Services: +61 3 9925 5111
    • STEM College Research Training Services: +61 3 9925 9188.

 

Non-HDR courses 

Occasionally, your supervisory team will suggest you complete a course not available as a part of your program. If this occurs, contact Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal for advice. 

Your coursework will be pre-allocated in Enrolment Online. All you need to do is click ‘Enrol’ in Enrolment Online during the enrolment period (October to December). Don’t change the courses yourself. 
 

Credit transfer 

If you completed coursework equivalent to your program’s compulsory coursework at another institution, we recommended you still complete the RMIT research methods/strategies course. These courses prepare you for research at RMIT. 

To apply for an exemption from compulsory coursework, contact Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal and attach the following: 

Leave 

Annual leave 

The academic year for RMIT HDR candidates is 48 weeks with 4 weeks annual leave. Annual leave does not change your enrolment, your duration of candidature or affect your milestone due dates, unlike a leave of absence (see below). 

Negotiate annual leave with your supervisory team. No formal application is needed.  

Leave of absence 

You can take up to 12 months’ leave of absence during your candidature. This leave can be used to cover medical, compassionate or compelling circumstances. You can also take an additional 6 months of parental leave for each child born or adopted during your candidature.  

If you have a scholarship or sponsorship, ensure you check the terms and conditions before applying for a leave of absence.

Contact your Ethics Coordinator to discuss how your leave of absence might affect your ethics approval (if you have one). 

Submit your leave of absence form and supporting documentation to Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal

Extensions

Extensions beyond maximum duration 

If you are unable to submit by your final submission date, you can apply for an extension beyond maximum duration

You can apply for up to three months (full-time equivalent) extension to your candidature at a time. Multiple extensions are only granted in exceptional circumstances. 

All extensions beyond maximum duration require a Candidate Action and Support Plan (CASP). A CASP ensures you receive the support you need. 

To request an extension beyond maximum duration, arrange a CASP in partnership with your supervisory team and HDR Delegated Authority. Select “Candidate requires extension beyond maximum to the end date of this CASP” on the CASP form. 

If you require a subsequent extension, you’ll need to submit a new CASP. Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) approval is needed. 

Changes to candidature

Changing study load 

An HDR can be either full-time or part-time (a half load). Full-time commitment averages at least four days per week and part-time commitment averages at least two days per week. 

If you receive a scholarship, contact the Scholarships Team or your external scholarship provider to discuss the impact of changing study load. 

The rules for changing study load vary according to your citizenship status.

Domestic candidates (Australian or New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents) 

Submit a request to change load with written approval from your Senior Supervisor to Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal

International candidates 

There are strict rules governing study load for international students. To move to part-time study for 6 months at a time, international students must demonstrate compassionate or compelling circumstances.

Submit the Request to Reduce Enrolment Load Form with supporting documentation demonstrating compassionate or compelling circumstances to Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal

Changing supervisory arrangements 

Learn about making the most of your supervisory relationships.  

If you need to change to your supervisory team during your candidature, first discuss this with your current and proposed supervisory team and your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA)

Submit a Change of Supervisor Form to Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal.

Changing research topic, thesis title or Field of Research codes 

Changing research topic 

Sometimes during your research, you might find your chosen research topic needs to change. This could be for practical or personal reasons. Discuss the issues with your supervisory team and your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA). Changing your topic won’t change your milestone and final submission dates. 

Address major changes at your next milestone presentation

Major changes require approval from the School of Graduate Research. Your HDR DA will apply for approval on your behalf. Candidates from sanctioned countries will need to undergo a sanctions assessment on their revised project. 

Changing thesis title or Field of Research codes 

To change your thesis title or Field of Research (FoR) code/s seek approval from your Senior Supervisor and submit evidence of their approval to Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal.

Changing location

If you change your address during your candidature, update your contact details in Enrolment Online

If you are moving interstate or overseas for a period of longer than 3 months, you must also submit a Change of Location Form to Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal

If you need to move offshore during your candidature, you should first: 

  • Talk to your Supervisory Team. They need to be confident you can receive proper supervision, support and resources in your new location.
  • Contact the Department of Home Affairs (if you hold a student visa) to discuss any potential impacts to your visa. 
  • Contact the Scholarships Team or your external scholarship provider to find out if your move will affect your scholarship (if you have one).

Cancelling enrolment & readmission 

Cancelling enrolment 

If you want to withdraw completely from your studies, there are steps you must take before you cancel your enrolment: 

  • You must discuss your options with your supervisory team and/or HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA)
  • If you’re stressed, anxious or experiencing difficulties in your life that interfere with your studies, consider accessing RMIT’s range of support services to help. They include counselling, study support, legal support and financial support. 
  • Consider taking a leave of absence rather than withdrawing completely. 
  • If you’re receiving a scholarship, contact the Scholarships Team or your external scholarship provider. 
  • Back up all files. You will immediately lose access to RMIT systems and RMIT student email. 
  • Review all the information on the Cancel your program enrolment page carefully.

If you have any questions, contact Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal.

Once you’ve completed all the above steps, cancel your enrolment in Enrolment Online. 

Readmission 

If your enrolment was cancelled, there are two possible pathways for readmission: 

Readmission within maximum duration 

If you had candidature remaining at the time of cancellation, you can apply for readmission within maximum duration. Discuss this decision with your supervisory team (or HDR DA if they’re no longer available) before applying. 

Apply for readmission via the RMIT University Application Service with your supporting documentation. If RMIT approve your readmission, we’ll send you a new offer letter with instructions on how to accept your offer and complete the online enrolment process.

Readmission for the purpose of examination 

You can apply for readmission for the purpose of examination within three years of your cancellation date. 

Contact your former Senior Supervisor (or HDR DA if they’re no longer available) outlining that your research is ready for examination, still current and not superseded. 

If approved for readmission, you will receive a new offer letter with instructions on how to accept your offer and complete the online enrolment process.

Scholarship end dates

You can view your scholarship end date in Enrolment Online.

If you are solely dependent on your scholarship to complete your research degree, it is important that you plan your research so that it is complete before your scholarship comes to an end.
 

Conditions of award

If you’re receiving an externally-funded scholarship, refer to the terms and conditions of your scholarship or contact your provider for information.

All RMIT-managed scholarships are made available under the same terms and conditions. The T&Cs include specific rules around employment and the conditions under which a move to part-time candidature is allowed. Please read these carefully before requesting any change in study load.

Duration of scholarship

The duration of your scholarship is specified on your offer letter.

All centrally awarded scholarships, including RTP, RMIT and VCPS scholarships, are automatically extended from 3 to 3.5 years Effective Full-time Student Load (EFTSL), where the maximum duration of the scholarship is 3.5 years EFTSL.

In managing your candidature, it is important to be clear about when your scholarship commenced and will come to an end.

Scholarship extensions

Extensions beyond 3.5 years EFTSL are generally not available. Candidates whose research was impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and who were put on a registered COVID CASP may be eligible for a scholarship extension. A registered COVID CASP is required to be considered for a scholarship extension.

You should initiate the request to extend your scholarship with a conversation with your supervisor, who will submit the request to SGR.

If your supervisor is unsure as to what they need to do to submit the request to SGR, they should check the information that is available to them on the Supervisor Intranet.

There are three types of program transfer:

  • Same level transfer (Masters to Masters or PhD to PhD transfer)
  • Masters to PhD transfer
  • PhD to Masters transfer.

To be eligible to transfer your program you must:

  • Meet the entry requirements of the program you are applying for
  • PhD candidates must have consumed less than 3 EFTSL and Masters candidates less than 1 EFTSL; transfers after this may only occur in exceptional circumstances
  • Where a transfer after EFTSL is approved, you will need to submit for examination or cancel your enrolment within 10 working days of the transfer being processed. 

To apply for a program transfer:

Same level

Discuss your transfer application with your supervisory team (and proposed supervisory team if a change of supervisor will also occur). This must happen before you reach 3 EFTSL (PhD) or 1 EFTSL (Masters).

Submit your change of program request through AIR. A copy of your milestone outcome and any other required transfer documentation should be uploaded to the system when you submit your application.

You will be sent an offer letter for your new program and advised to accept your offer and enrol. International candidates studying in Australia on a student visa are also sent a new Confirmation of Enrolment (eCOE) for visa purposes.

Masters to PhD transfer

Discuss your transfer application with your supervisory team (and proposed supervisory team if a change of supervisor will also occur). You usually discuss this at your Masters Confirmation of Candidature to make sure you have enough time to prepare for your PhD Confirmation of Candidature (this should be undertaken before 1 EFTSL).

You present your milestone review, and if it is Achieved, you submit your change of program request through AIR. A copy of your milestone outcome and any other required transfer documentation should be uploaded to the system when you submit your application.

You will be sent an offer letter for your new program and advised to accept your offer and enrol. International candidates studying in Australia on a student visa are also sent a new Confirmation of Enrolment (eCOE) for visa purposes.

PhD to Masters transfer

Discuss your transfer application with your supervisory team (and proposed supervisory team if a change of supervisor will also occur). This can happen at any time during candidature but generally before you reach 2 EFTSL.

You present your milestone review, and if it is Achieved, you submit your change of program request through AIR. A copy of your milestone outcome and any other required transfer documentation should be uploaded to the system when you submit your application.

You will be sent an offer letter for your new program and advised to accept your offer and enrol. International candidates studying in Australia on a student visa are also sent a new Confirmation of Enrolment (eCOE) for visa purposes.

Program Transfer FAQs

Do you need to complete a milestone to transfer at the same level?

This is not usually required for same level transfers; however, the proposed new School may request copies of all completed milestone documentation as part of their assessment of your transfer.

What milestone do I have to complete for a Masters to PhD transfer?

You must complete a PhD-level Confirmation of Candidature to demonstrate that the project can be expanded in scope to PhD-level. Confirmation and Second milestone reviews have different requirements in the different programs - a Masters Second milestone is not equivalent to a PhD Confirmation.

Which milestone is due next after I transfer to a PhD?

The Second milestone review will be the next milestone for the candidate in the PhD. The candidate must complete all three PhD-level milestones to be eligible to submit for examination.

If I want to transfer from a PhD to Masters, which milestone needs be completed?

You must complete a Masters-level milestone review to demonstrate that your project can be decreased in scope to Masters-level.

Will my scholarship/sponsorship be extended if I transfer to a PhD program?

No. You must discuss your proposed transfer with your provider before you submit your application/present your milestone as your scholarship/sponsorship may not apply to the new program if you complete the transfer process. If you are sponsored, you may not be permitted to transfer between programs (Masters to PhD or PhD to Masters) - you must check with your sponsor.

Need help? 

Submit an enquiry to the School of Graduate Research

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