Doctoral Study

A PhD provides advanced skills in clinical and/or public health research. The School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has a strong record of achievement in PhD training with many graduates obtaining prestigious post-doctoral awards and securing senior positions in Australia and overseas.

In 2017 we have around 175 students enrolled.

Research in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM) comprises many aspects of clinical and public health research. Along with DEPM, other groups make up the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SPHPM):

Professor John McNeil, Head of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, speaks about the PhD program:

Doctoral study video

For more information, see the SPHPM Doctoral Information Handbook (1MB, PDF)


2014 SPHPM Doctoral Group

Current HDR thesis topics

Current PhD opportunities

Basil Hetzel PhD Scholarship in Diagnostic Science

For information on current PhD opportunities contact SPHPM Doctoral Coordinator Dr Elizabeth Douglas

Why do a PhD in SPHPM?

Progress of PhD students with SPHPM is facilitated by a strong research environment with an extensive program of NHMRC funded research; access to extensive infrastructure support including:
·   assistance in biostatistics,
·   data management,
·   computing and
·   support from experienced staff and a large student body.

Why study Epidemiology?

Epidemiology is the key scientific discipline underlying some of the most important and rapidly developing areas of medicine.
These include:
·   Public health
·   Applied clinical research and clinical trials
·   Preventive medicine and health promotion
·   Health services research
·   Quality assurance and outcome measurement in healthcare
·   Health economics
·   Health policy development
·   Occupational and environmental health
·   Health risk assessment

What skills will I develop?

All students undertaking PhD studies in SPHPM are expected to attend coursework units in Epidemiology and Biostatistics provided as part of the School postgraduate coursework program. In addition, PhD students are encouraged to participate in conferences and workshops, and to undertake further professional development in relevant fields.
During the course of their research, students will develop skills in the following areas:
·   Protocol development
·   Design and conduct of research in humans
·   Computer based data management and statistical analysis
· Scientific writing and communication
·   Critical appraisal and interpretation of medical literature
·   High level knowledge of the chosen field of study

How will I support myself?

Full-time PhD students in the School are supported by PhD scholarships provided by Monash University, the Alfred Hospital, the NHMRC, VicHealth or other bodies. These provide a tax free stipend, to which may be added income from teaching, and other limited employment outside the stipulated hours.
Most individuals undertaking a PhD find it to be a demanding experience requiring extensive after-hours work. University rules do not allow more than six hours per week of outside employment in normal business hours during a PhD candidature, and this restriction is observed by supervisors within SPHPM.

Virtually all full-time and most part-time PhD students are given exemption from HECS liability. Further details on HECS exemption can be found in Chapter 6 of the SPHPM Doctoral Information Handbook.

How do I choose a PhD project?

A project suitable for a PhD has the following characteristics:
·   It is scientifically worthwhile
·   It can be undertaken successfully with the available resources
·   It provides training in appropriate skills
·   It can be completed within a 30 to 42 month time period
Considerable judgement is needed to identify projects meeting these requirements and most students will need to be advised about appropriate studies, especially in the early stages of their enrolment. Whenever possible, students undertaking PhD studies within SPHPM are attached to a major funded study and their work involves "substudies" within the larger project.  Before choosing a project, prospective students should review the research activities within the school's units to identify areas of interest.

What is expected from PhD students?

·   Contribution to the intellectual life of the department
·   Attendance and presentation at relevant professional meetings
·   A strong motivation to publish results of studies completed
·   An ethical and careful approach to research
·   Strict adherence to University restrictions on outside employment and other conditions of candidature.

How to apply

You may not apply for a scholarship or contact staff members about a project before we invite you to do so. You should first contact the Doctoral Coordinator, Dr Elizabeth Douglas (

If you do not need a scholarship for tuition (international applicants must apply for both) or a living allowance (local and international applicants) you may apply for candidature without a scholarship at any time. Applications for scholarships close each year on 31 May and 31 October commencing study 2-3 months later; (the academic year in Australia runs from March to October).

If English is not your first language, then please pay attention to the English language requirements. In SPHPM, an overall IELTS score of 7.0 with individual band scores of 6.5 is required.

Monash University offers the Monash International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (MIPRS) to international students. However, these are extremely competitive and to obtain one you will need to have an outstanding academic record in at least one degree and a first author publication in an ISI- or SJR- listed journal. Conference presentations are given little weight.

Please visit our web pages ( for an indication of the current area/s of research that match your interests. We expect students will pick up a topic that a supervisor here already has planned.

If you think your CV will be competitive and you would like to pursue this further, please send the following:

CV, including full citation of any publications and referees (noting your relationship to each one);

  • transcripts of grades for every degree you hold;
  • if English is not your first language, a measure of your proficiency in English (e.g., IELTS, TOFL score), even if you have studied for a degree in English;
  • a brief statement explaining your current work, why you wish to undertake a higher research degree and the areas of research that interest you (maximum 1 page);
  • details of your funding, if any.

After reviewing these documents we will let you know if we think your application might be competitive and if so, we will try to identify a suitable supervisor. Only when this is achieved can we invite you to consider applying.

Further Information and contact

If you have any questions regarding a PhD with SPHPM please contact the Doctoral Coordinator Dr Elizabeth Douglas on +61 (0)3 9903 0168 or by email to

General information on resources and facilities available to postgraduate students at Monash University is provided by the SPACE Monash Institute of Graduate Research.

Prospective international students should consult the Monash University Admissions information page to obtain relevant information on studying at Monash.