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RTP-Funded Professional Doctorates Procedure

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Section 1 - Purpose and Scope

(1) This Procedure supports the implementation of the Professional Doctorates Policy.

(2) This Procedure covers the design, structure, admission, progression and examination requirements for those professional doctorate programs offered at The University of Queensland which are eligible to be funded by the Research Training Program (RTP).

(3) This Procedure applies to all prospective and currently enrolled candidates for an RTP-funded professional doctorate program, as well as to staff of the University and external personnel involved in relevant activities such as supervision or examination.

(4) This Procedure reflects, and gives effect to, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) for professional doctorates. All professional doctorates offered at The University of Queensland are delivered as level 10 doctoral degree qualifications, in accordance with the AQF.

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Section 2 - Process and Key Controls

(5) All professional doctorates must incorporate a minimum of two years of research that makes an original and significant contribution to knowledge in the context of professional practice.

(6) The program may include an industry placement where feasible and dependent on accrediting body requirements.

(7) Professional doctorates must be designed to provide a program of structured learning and independent supervised study that produces significant and original research outcomes, culminating in a thesis, for independent examination by two examiners. The examiners must not be staff members of the University.

(8) Professional doctorates must incorporate advanced coursework and research-integrated practice that will support the research outcomes. At least 50% of this component must be from courses coded at level 8.

(9) Professional doctorates that are RTP funded are managed by the Graduate School, with candidates enrolled as research students from the commencement of their program in accordance with the policies and procedures applicable to Higher Degree by Research Candidates.

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Section 3 - Key Requirements

(10) The skills and knowledge taught within a professional doctorate should have clear relevance to a specific profession (and in some instances more than one profession), with an identifiable career outcome for each program.

(11) Professional doctorate programs emphasise advanced professional practice and are considered a substantial advance in terms of depth and breadth of knowledge and skills, over and above masters coursework programs, with content that is clearly distinct from the doctorate (research PhD), masters (research) and masters (coursework) programs. Where relevant, professional doctorates may build on strong and focused masters coursework programs in the same discipline(s).

(12) All professional doctorates must have a set of graduate attributes that build on the University’s graduate statement and graduate attributes that are mapped onto the four program components:

  1. basic knowledge of the discipline;
  2. advanced knowledge in a focused area;
  3. professional skills and practice; and
  4. research.

(13) The graduate attributes from the research component should be at least equivalent to those for the Master of Philosophy degree (as specified in the Research Higher Degree Graduate Attributes).


(14) Applications for the program are managed by the Graduate School in accordance with the requirements specified in the Higher Degree by Research Admission Procedure.

(15) Any departure from the admission prerequisites of the program must be referred to the Dean, Graduate School for consideration.

(16) Where relevant, external professional registration is processed at the admissions stage by the relevant faculty.


(17) Candidates will be eligible to apply for a UQ awarded higher degree by research scholarship in accordance with the UQ and RTP Research Scholarships Policy, Procedure and Guideline.

Candidature Enrolment and Progression

(18) Changes to enrolment will be managed in accordance with the Higher Degree by Research Candidature Policy and Procedure.

(19) Progression will be subject to the applicable program requirements in the Programs Catalogue and the Higher Degree by Research Candidature Progression Policy and Procedure.


(20) Candidates will have their research component examined in accordance with the Higher Degree by Research Examination Policy, Procedures (for both examinations with Oral Examination and without Oral Examination) and Guideline.

Withdrawal and Termination

(21) Withdrawal and termination of candidature will be managed in accordance with the Higher Degree by Research Candidature Policy and Procedure.

(22) Candidates who cannot submit under the professional doctorate rules may be eligible to transfer to a Master of Philosophy, Doctor of Philosophy, or a coursework master’s program.

Program Approval

(23) Submissions for the introduction of new RTP-funded professional doctorate programs, or for changes to existing RTP-funded professional doctorate programs, must receive endorsement from the Higher Degree by Research Committee (HDRC) in addition to the process outlined in the Program Approval Procedure.

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Section 4 - Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Dean, Graduate School

(24) The Dean, Graduate School approves admission to all HDR Programs at UQ. Delegation may be given to the Deputy Dean when required.

Director of Higher Degree Research (Director of HDR)

(25) The Director of HDR makes an assessment of the HDR applicant quality, project viability and resourcing, and supervision and recommends an applicant to the Dean, Graduate School for admission on behalf of the Head of the Academic Organisation Unit (AOU).

Principal Advisors

(26) Principal Advisors are approved UQ staff members who take primary academic responsibility for the candidate during their candidature.

(27) The detailed academic role, accountabilities and eligibility for principal advisors are specified in the Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Policy.


(28) Advisors are suitably qualified persons who provide expertise related to the candidate’s research and are available to provide advice throughout candidature.

(29) The detailed academic role, accountabilities and eligibility for advisors are specified in the Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Policy.

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Section 5 - Monitoring, Review and Assurance

(30) Review of, and compliance with, this Procedure is overseen by the Dean, Graduate School and the Academic Board's Higher Degree by Research Committee.

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Section 6 - Recording and Reporting

(31) All applications must be lodged via UQ’s student application system.

(32) All candidate records including progress review outcomes and University decisions are filed in the candidate’s electronic record.

(33) All thesis examination transactions, activities and approvals are recorded within UQ’s student system.

(34) All student applications and University decisions are filed in the student’s personal record in UQ’s digital student record system.

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Section 7 - Appendix

Definitions, terms and acronyms

Term Definition
Academic program a sequence of study leading to the award of a qualification such as an undergraduate degree or diploma, and/or postgraduate coursework qualification.
Academic Organisational Unit (AOU) means an academic organisational unit that directly enrols HDR candidates.
Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) a single comprehensive national qualifications framework that represents the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training.
Discipline expertise a school, faculty, institute or centre may be recognised as having discipline expertise through:

- Either:
     – its leadership in teaching and research in the discipline; or
     – its leadership in teaching and research in the application of disciplinary knowledge in a professional context; and

- acknowledgement by the University.
Professional doctorate The AQF defines the professional doctorate as a structured program of learning that typically includes advanced coursework and research and is designed to enhance the candidate’s capacity to make a significant contribution to original knowledge in the discipline and/or research-integrated practice developed in collaboration with a relevant professional, statutory, or regulatory body.
Relevant Faculty means the faculty with the recognised discipline expertise of the doctorate program.
Research Training Program Commonwealth block grant provided, on a calendar year basis, to higher education providers to support domestic and overseas students undertaking a research higher degree.