PhD program

PhD program

Student learning in the lab
We offer our PhD students a program of study that includes world-class research training, as well as offering opportunities to develop diverse skills that will benefit their future career. 

The Institute’s PhD program centres on medical research. Our PhD students develop their skills and knowledge through tackling important questions in medical research.

Students are supported to develop broader career skills through attendance and participation at seminars, conferences and research exchanges, involvement in Institute training and teaching programs, and contribution to committees.

Mentoring and supervision

Students are valued members of our research groups.

PhD students are guided by at least two supervisors (at least one must be Institute faculty) who are affiliated with the University of Melbourne.  Within their research group, students receive training, advice and teaching within an intensive research laboratory environment that includes postdoctoral and senior researchers, research assistants and technical support staff.

Our students receive further support and mentoring through regular meetings with a PhD advisory committee made up of Institute faculty and postdoctoral researchers, and external researchers with diverse expertise that compliments the research project. 

PhD outcomes

The majority of our PhD students are lead authors on papers in peer-reviewed journals, and have opportunities to present at national and international conferences.

To graduate, a student must submit a thesis that is passed by external examiners, and make an oral presentation of their findings. 

Research specialties

Our multidisciplinary PhD program offers students the opportunity to develop skills in diverse subsets of medical research.

In-depth training is available in fields including

Students are expected to attend seminars within their research division as well as weekly Institute seminars. PhD students are also encouraged to broaden their understanding of medical research by attending other seminars at the Institute and at our research neighbours in the Parkville precinct.

Broader skills

Our PhD students have opportunities to develop broader skills that will benefit their future careers.

Our students develop wider skills through activities including: 

  • Our postgraduate seminar series is presented by national experts on significant research fields, providing students with a thorough grounding in contemporary topics in medical research. The series theme changes annually, ensuring our PhD students develop a broad knowledge base.
  • An incoming student lecture series provides all our students with an understanding of research ethics, laboratory practices, intellectual property and commercialisation, literature searches, career paths and teaching opportunities.
  • Weekly Institute, division and student seminars, as well as journal clubs provide all students with an opportunity to learn from their colleagues and peers, and present their own research discoveries and learnings in a supportive environment where feedback is encouraged.
  • The Institute’s Internship program provides PhD students with the opportunity to undertake a period of training (typically the equivalent of three months) within the Institute’s professional services teams. Hands-on internship projects allow students to develop skills in areas such as business development, commercialisation, project management, science education, human resources, information technology, integrity and ethics, communication, graphic design, fundraising and grants management.
  • Opportunities to teach or mentor school students such as through the Gene Technology Access Centre.
  • Membership of Institute committees as a representative of the student voice. PhD students contribute to many Institute committees including our Education Committee and our Engagement Committee. Our Student Association executive also offers diverse opportunities for leadership.
  • Travel funding is provided for our PhD students through the Edith Moffat Scholarship Fund. This is typically used by students to attend an international conference and to visit prospective future employers towards the end of their PhD studies. Opportunities may also exist for attending conferences at other stages of PhD studies.

Our student association also coordinates skills and career training, guided by the needs and suggestions of our students. 

Affiliation with a leading university

The Institute offers its PhD program as the Department of Medical Biology in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

Founded in 1853, the University of Melbourne is one of Australia’s leading ‘Group of Eight’ Universities with more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It has been internationally recognised by many international rankings including: 

  • Number 1 university in Australia and 15th in the world in the area of clinical, pre-clinical and health in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016
  • Number 1 university in Australia and 33rd in the world in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2015 
  • Number 1 university in Australia and 40th in the world in the Shanghai Ranking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (2016)

Enrolment through the University of Melbourne provides our students with many advantages including:

  • Access to wider networks of leading research teams, many located with the Institute in Melbourne’s Parkville biomedical research precinct
  • Eligibility for University of Melbourne scholarships, awards and recognition
  • Access to student career, health, fitness, cultural, housing (including residential colleges) and support services
  • Membership of a large and diverse student body of more than 4050,000 students, 35 per cent of whom are international
  • Upon graduation, affiliation with the University of Melbourne’s alumni program, as well as the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s alumni network


Sue Hardy
Student Academic Administrator
Phone +61 3 9345 2549