PhD Programs in Research School of Management

The Research School of Management (RSM) has internationally recognised researchers who can supervise doctoral candidates on a diverse range of topics. To complete the PhD program, candidates who will do their research under the guidance of a supervisory panel, have to take four compulsory and two elective courses, be successful in the thesis proposal review process, and write a substantial thesis that is passed by external examiners.

The Program Learning Outcomes for RSM’s PhD pertinent across its various disciplines are:

  1. Explain their philosophical approach and its incorporation into a significant research journey and the building of their doctoral identity.

  2. Problematise a complex social phenomenon within or across the domains of business and management studies that merits targeted study and research skills to advance scholarship and professional practice.

  3. Identify relevant databases to systematically retrieve applicable and appropriate literature to address research problems and ensuing questions.

  4. Critically and systematically review and discuss the extant body of complex knowledge within a domain to demonstrate the expertise and skills required for scholarly inquiry.

  5. Devise an effective research design, including a justification of the methodology(ies)  developed, adapted and implemented for the scholarly study of the topic of interest.

  6. Actively prioritise the conduct of responsible and ethical research within an environment that promotes scholarship and collegiality

  7. Develop insights into the discipline through expert and specialised analytical, research and technical skills as applied to the research data collected.

  8. Determine the contributions and implications of the research for the advancement of theoretical knowledge and practice.

  9. Propose future directions of research in the discipline based on original insights and  knowledge gained through a critical discussion of the findings of the research.

  10. Produce a manuscript in the form of a monograph or collection of scholarly articles to effectively communicate, disseminate and promote new insights within the academic community and society at large. 

RSM staff have diverse research interests and can provide supervision across a range of topics in disciplines such as:

  • Business Information Systems
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Human Resource Management
  • Innovation
  • International Business
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Project Management
  • Strategic Management
  • Tourism

Read more about RSM research areas and researchers.

CRICOS #: 048345A

Duration: 2 to 4 years full time (4 to 8 years part time)

Before applying

Before you submit an application for entry to the program, you should:

  • ensure you meet the admission requirements outlined below
  • identify potential supervisors – that is, one or two academics in RSM who conduct research in your area of interest.

You can find information on researchers and their research areas in the ANU researchers database and on the RSM research clusters page.

You may contact the potential supervisor(s) directly and ask if they are available to work with you. You’ll need to indicate on your application form the name(s) of potential supervisors who have agreed to supervise your proposed research.

Potential supervisors cannot guarantee entry into RSM’s PhD program. Admission will depend on the strength of your application relative to others in the pool.

After you’ve completed the steps above, you can proceed with an online application.

Application deadlines

The first semester of the ANU academic year starts in February, and the second semester starts in July. While all applications for first semester entry must be submitted before 31 October, international applicants wishing to be considered for an ANU scholarship should submit their applications before 31 August.

To be considered for a scholarship, your application must be accompanied by all the supporting documents listed below, including the referee reports. Request for referee reports are triggered and sent to your nominated referees at the time of submission of program application. It is thus important that you submit your application in advance (2-3 weeks) to allow time for your referees to provide their reports prior to the scholarship deadline.

If you’re currently completing an academic degree and haven’t yet received your final results and transcript, you should still submit all available documents before the deadline, and forward remaining results once you receive them. We won’t make a final decision on your application until we’ve received all the required documents.

Admission requirements

The admission requirements for a PhD program in RSM reflect the advanced knowledge that candidates will need to undertake the coursework component of the degree, and the research experience and skills needed to successfully undertake and complete the research thesis.

The minimum qualification requirement for admission to the PhD program in RSM is:

  • an Australian Bachelor degree with at least Second Class Honours Division A (First Class Honours highly preferred) or its international equivalent, which should include a substantial thesis component in a relevant discipline – such as management, marketing, international business, business information systems or psychology – from an approved university, or
  • a Master of Philosophy (or equivalent) degree with a significant research thesis component, from an approved university, or
  • a coursework Master degree comprising a research thesis counting towards no less than 25 per cent of the degree, with the thesis grade and overall GPA (grade point average) both being at least a 6.0 (distinction) on a 7-point scale, from an approved university.

Admission to RSM’s PhD program is competitive and we can only admit a limited number of applicants each year. Meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee you a place in the program.

If you don’t satisfy the minimum entry standard for the School’s PhD program, you might consider applying to the MPhil program. If you’d like to consider this pathway, contact the RSM HDR (higher degree by research) convenor for more information.

English language requirements

All applicants must satisfy the University’s English language admission requirements. An international applicant who is not a native English speaker may satisfy these requirements by submitting evidence of an IELTS overall score of at least 6.5, and with no component less than 6.0, or a paper-based TOEFL score of at least 570, with at least 4.5 in the essay component.

Application and supporting documentation

You must submit your application online via the ANU Application Manager.

In addition to the standard information required in the online application, you must submit the following supporting documents as part of your application:

  • a completed RSM PhD/MPhil application questionnaire
  • academic transcripts (scanned colour copies) and grading systems for all previously completed degrees
  • a research proposal (fewer than three pages, double-spaced, including a list of key references) that outlines your proposed area of research, the questions you plan to address, a research model and the major research methods you intend to use as part of your PhD thesis – see these guidelines on how to prepare a persuasive research proposal
  • an up-to-date CV or resume
  • copies of research publications (if available), e.g. research articles that you’ve published in recognised international journals or have presented at respected international conferences
  • official TOEFL or IELTS results (where applicable) to demonstrate that you satisfy the University’s English language requirements
  • a one-page statement outlining your motivation to undertake a PhD in RSM, describing your strengths, weaknesses, career goals and anything else you feel is relevant
  • nomination of three referees. A referee report form will automatically be sent to the referees you list in your online application. Your application will be complete and ready for assessment once we receive all documents, including referee reports
  • GRE General Test or GMAT scores (if taken)
  • additional relevant supporting documents (if available – five-page limit).

Offers of admission

The HDR convenor will review all complete applications submitted by the relevant deadline.

If your application is short-listed, you may be required to attend an interview (face to face or online).

We may send you an offer of admission if you satisfy the eligibility criteria and your area of interest matches those of RSM academics with supervisory capacity. However, since admission is competitive and supervisory capacity is limited, we won’t send any offers of admission until after the relevant application deadline, irrespective of the date when you submit your application.

Program structure

The PhD program in RSM consists of two components – coursework and research.

Candidates undertake the research component concurrently with the required coursework.

PhD coursework component

In the coursework component, PhD candidates learn the foundations of key theories and research methods and have the opportunity to specialise in fields of interest.

Mandatory courses

PhD candidates must complete the following four mandatory courses within the first twelve (12) months of the commencement of their program as per ANU procedure – HDR – Candidature progression (

  • MGMT8006 Management Research Methods (Semester 1)
  • MGMT8018 Qualitative Research Methods (Semester 1)
  • MGMT8019 Quantitative Research Methods in Management (Semester 1)
  • MMIB8008 Theory in Management

Candidates without sufficient background in statistics may be required to take an additional prerequisite course before enrolling in MGMT8019.

Elective courses

PhD candidates can select two courses, with approval from their supervisors, from the following list:

  • MGMT8003 Organisational Behaviour (Semester 1 and 2)
  • MGMT8022 Strategic Management (Semester 1 and 2)
  • MKTG7001 Marketing for Leaders (Semester 1)
  • INFS8202 Industry Research Project (Semester 1 and 2)
  • INFS8205 Digital Strategy, Executive and Operations (Semester 1 and 2)
  • MGMT7107 Managing Across Cultures (Semester 2)
  • MMIB8004 Special Research Topic 2 (Semester 1 and 2)
  • other courses approved by the supervisor and RSM HDR convenor.

PhD research component

In the research component, candidates contribute to their field of specialisation by writing a thesis under the guidance of a panel of supervisors. The thesis must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to undertake independent research, and make a significant contribution to one of the disciplines of RSM, with the potential to be published in leading journals in relevant disciplines.

The thesis is typically 200 to 250 pages, with a maximum limit of 400 pages or 100,000 words. The thesis will be independently assessed by three external expert examiners of international standing.

Candidates are expected to consult with their supervisory panel, which can assist, advise, and provide support and encouragement for a timely and successful completion of the thesis.

Research supervisory panel

When a candidate is admitted to the program, a primary supervisor is appointed. The primary supervisor has the responsibility of overseeing the candidate’s progress until a supervisory panel is chosen. During the first year of the program, it is important that candidates start developing their research topic ideas by consulting with their primary supervisor and other academic staff at RSM. In this year, a supervisory panel will also be chosen (typically comprising three academics). Based on the primary supervisor’s nominations, the HDR convenor will determine the composition of the supervisory panel in consultation with the candidate.

The primary supervisor will provide close supervision on the research. Other panel members will assist when needed. At the very least, the panel members are required to read the final drafts of the thesis proposal and the dissertation. The panel is also consulted during the annual review of the candidate’s progress.

RSM seminar program

RSM runs a weekly seminar program, featuring internationally renowned speakers presenting their work. To provide learning and networking opportunities that assist in the development of research skills, all research candidates are required to attend and actively participate in the seminar series.

Research integrity training

Within three to six months of enrolment, all PhD candidates must complete the Research Integrity Training and pass the exam. Completion of this course and exam is a compulsory milestone for all PhD candidates.

Thesis proposal review

PhD candidates must develop their thesis proposal in the first year of their candidature, and submit it to their supervisory panel for review by the second year of study. The purpose of the thesis proposal review is to assess the originality, significance, adequacy and achievability of the candidate’s thesis plan.

The candidate generally submits their thesis proposal in conjunction with their seminar presentation. The proposal includes a description of the research to be undertaken in the thesis, along with a summary of the thesis structure and time plan. Successful completion of the review is required to continue in the program.

Annual progress review

It is University policy that each candidate’s progress be reviewed periodically. In each year of their program, PhD candidates are required to submit an annual plan and report as a basis for periodic progress review. This document provides details on work completed by the candidate since the previous review, current progress, and any problems that may impact their research. It also outlines the coursework and research the candidate intends to undertake in the following 12 months.

During their program, PhD candidates are expected to present their research yearly (when studying full-time) at opportunities provided by RSM, such as seminars, conferences and doctoral colloquiums.

Oral presentation

In their final year, candidates are required to give a final oral presentation on their research, usually three months before submitting their thesis.

Read more about research candidate milestones.

Thesis submission and examination

The culmination of a PhD program in RSM is a written thesis which, upon completion, is submitted for examination. The thesis is examined by experts in the relevant field.

For more information on the process, visit our page on submitting a thesis.


For information about scholarships available to HDR candidates, visit our page on scholarships and fees.

Job placement

Read details of some of our alumni’s recent job placements.

Current PhD candidates

A list of current PhD candidates in the School is available on the RSM staff directory.