Statistics PhD program information

Admission requirements

The Statistics PhD program typically takes between three and four years of full-time research to complete. A part-time equivalent, over a longer period of time, is also an option.

The minimum academic qualification requirement for admission to the program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Statistics is:

  1. a degree of bachelor with first class honours or upper second class honours in statistics (or a closely related discipline) from an Australian university; or
  2. another qualification (for example, a Masters degree or equivalent postgraduate qualification) that the Delegated Authority is satisfied is equivalent or superior to a degree mentioned in point (1); or
  3. a combination of qualifications and professional experience that the Delegated Authority is satisfied is equivalent or superior to a degree mentioned in point (1).

All applicants must meet the University’s English Language Admission Requirements for Students.

Admission is competitive and only a limited number of students are admitted to the PhD program each year. Meeting the minimum entry requirements will make you eligible for consideration but does not guarantee a place within the program.

In addition to previous studies, there are other admission criteria that applicants must satisfy (e.g., quality of research proposal, referee reports,etc.). As part of the application, applicants are required to submit a research proposal. This should be between 2 and 4 pages long including key references. The research proposal should outline your proposed area of research, the questions that you are planning to address, and the proposed methodology or research methods that you believe will be needed to undertake the research.

In addition to the information required in the online application, please note the following:

  • Applicants are required to prepare a one-page statement of purpose. Include within this a description of your strengths, weaknesses, career goal(s) and anything else you feel is relevant for consideration.
  • Short-listed applicants may be required to have a Skype interview (or similar).

You should also identify one or two academic staff in RSFAS as potential supervisors, whose research interests are close to your own. Contacting the potential supervisors directly is not required for the Statistics PhD program. You need to indicate the name(s) of potential supervisors on your application form, and RSFAS will assess and assign a suitable supervisor if your application for admission is successful.

After your application and all its supporting documents (including referee reports) are received by the Admissions Office, your file will be forwarded to the RSFAS Deputy Director (Higher Degree Research).  Since admission is competitive and supervisory capacity is limited, offers of admission will not be issued until after the relevant application deadlines.

The first semester of the ANU academic year starts in February.  In general, all applications for entry in the first semester of the following year must be submitted before 31 October. In addition, international students wishing to be considered for an ANU scholarship should submit their applications before 31 August. In order for an application to be considered, all supporting documents must be received by the ANU before the respective application deadlines.

If you do not satisfy the admission requirements, you may choose to apply for admission to the MPhil program offered by RSFAS before applying for admission to the PhD program.

PhD program structure


Candidates in the Statistics PhD are required to complete up to six semester-length courses during the first year of the program. Required coursework must be completed to a satisfactory level in order for candidates to progress to the thesis component. The specific coursework requirements will depend on each candidate’s background, and will be determined through discussion with the PhD Convenor and the candidate’s Chair of Panel.

The coursework for the PhD in Statistics consists of the following:

 Plus up to three electives chosen in consultation with the Chair of Panel and PhD Convenor.

Electives can be chosen from a wide range of graduate level courses in statistics, or suitable advanced courses from other disciplines, e.g. econometrics or mathematics. Electives offered within RSFAS include (but are not limited to) the following:

Research Supervision

When a PhD candidate is admitted to the program, a provisional supervisor is appointed. The provisional supervisor has the responsibility of overseeing the student’s candidature until a supervisory panel is chosen.

During the first year, it is important that candidates start developing their research topic ideas through consultation with their provisional supervisor and other academic staff within RSFAS.

Either in their first year of study, or soon after completion of their coursework, a supervisory panel will be chosen. The role of the panel is to assist, advise and provide support and encouragement to the student for a timely and successful completion. The PhD Convenor will determine the composition of the supervisory panel in consultation with the student.

Progress milestones

It is University policy that each candidate's progress be reviewed periodically. Each year, PhD candidates are required to submit a Progress Report/Annual Plan, which summarises progress and identifies any difficulties or changes to the previous research plan and outlines the intended research to be undertaken over the next twelve months. The Progress Report and the Annual Plan form the basis for the Annual Review.

In addition to these, during the second year, candidates must submit a Thesis Proposal for review (TPR) by the supervisory panel and present their TPR as a seminar to the School. The Thesis Proposal includes a description of the research to be undertaken in the thesis, and a summary of the structure of the thesis and its time plan. The purpose of the TPR is to assess the originality, significance, adequacy and achievability of the candidate's thesis plan. Successful completion of the TPR is required to continue in the program.

In their final year, candidates are required to give a final presentation (Oral Presentation) that is usually held three months before thesis submission.

Please refer to Research Student Milestones for further details.

Research Integrity Training

PhD candidates are also required to undertake Research Integrity Training (RIT). This training program has been developed by the ANU Office of Research Integrity and needs to be completed whenever it is on offer in the first year following commencement.

Thesis Submission and Examination

Information on the process of thesis submission and examination can be found here: Submitting a thesis.