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Masters Scholarships in Australia

Great universities, year-round sun and an excellent quality of life. . . it’s not too hard to understand why so many international students choose to study a Masters in Australia.

If you have your own dream of heading ‘Down Under’, you’ll probably want to know what kinds of postgraduate scholarships in Australia are available. The good news is that there is plenty of it on offer, from Australia Awards Scholarships to Research Training Program funding.

We’ve summed up some of the most popular funding options for foreign Masters students at Australian universities, with key information on entry criteria, how to apply for a postgraduate scholarship in Australia and what kinds of benefits they provide.

Looking for more general information on Masters degrees in Australia? Check out our study guide or start searching for Australian Masters degrees.

Masters scholarships for international students in Australia

Australia’s popularity as a study abroad destination is helped by the fact that there are several kinds of fully-funded postgraduate scholarship on offer for international students. These range from government programmes and charity schemes to scholarships offered by the universities themselves.

Australia Awards

The Australia Awards are a flagship international scholarship scheme funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). They offer a fully-funded scholarship package to international students from developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific region.

Australia Awards Scholarships fund international Masters students to study in Australia. Recipients are expected to return to their home country and work for at least two years following the completion of their degree.

You can study a Masters at any Australian university, but your course must be related to one of the priority areas decided on by your home country.

Applications to the Australia Awards Scholarships scheme can be made via the Online Australia Scholarships Information System (OASIS), via post or via the Australia Awards Africa website. The application period is usually between February and May (you can see the full list of deadlines on the DFAT website).

As you’d expect, applying for an Australia Awards Scholarship is a competitive process. The precise requirements differ from country to country, but you’ll normally need to supply copies of the following documents during the application:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Bachelors degree certificate
  • Academic transcripts
  • CV
  • Personal statement of 500 words describing why you should receive the award
  • Academic and professional references
  • Passport size photo
  • Proof of English language proficiency (usually the equivalent of IELTS 6.5)

You’ll also need to provide a reintegration plan detailing how you intend to use the experiences and knowledge you gain in Australia upon your return to your home country.

Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to an interview, where you’ll be expected to speak to a panel about your country’s priority areas, your proposed Masters programme and your reintegration plan.

Successful scholars will receive:

  • A full tuition fee waiver
  • Travel expenses in the form of a return flight to Australia
  • An initial establishment grant of AUD $5,000 (USD $3,865)
  • A fortnightly maintenance stipend (approximately AUD $30,000 per year – USD $23,205)
  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
  • Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF)
  • Visa fees
  • Other sundry expenses

After you’ve completed the Masters scholarship in Australia, you’ll need to return to your home country for a minimum of two years – and put your new qualification into practice!

Destination Australia

Funded by the Australian Department of Education, the Destination Australia scholarship programme gives Masters students (both international and domestic) the chance to study in regional Australia (outside of the country’s major cities).

The Department of Education maintains a list of the regional Australian universities and campuses where these scholarships are available.

The scholarships are worth AUD $15,000 (USD $11,600) per year for the duration of your course.

The application process varies according to your prospective university. Some institutions will automatically consider you for a Destination Australia scholarship, while others will require you to submit a short personal statement explaining why you have chosen to study in regional Australia. The deadline is usually mid-January for a Masters programme that starts in February.

Research Training Program (RTP) scholarships

Each year the Australian Government funds talented postgraduate research students – both domestic and international – through Research Training Program (RTP) scholarships.

This funding is allocated to Australian universities, who then use it to support students enrolling on research Masters courses and PhDs (known as higher degrees by research – HDR).

These are the kinds of RTP scholarship that are offered by universities:

  • RTP Fees Offset – this covers your tuition fees
  • RTP Stipend – this is a tax-free, fortnightly sum to cover your living costs
  • RTP Allowance – this is intended to cover sundry expenses associated with your degree, such as health cover and thesis printing

Depending on the university and the course, you may receive one or a combination of the above funding elements. International students usually receive the tuition fee waiver in addition to the stipend.

The exact amount of the RTP Stipend varies from institution to institution, but you should expect it to be somewhere in the region of AUD $30,000 per year (USD $23,205).

The application process also differs according to the university (you should always apply directly to your prospective university, rather than the Australian Government). When applying for an eligible research Masters, you’ll usually need to indicate that you’d like to be considered for a scholarship.

The university will then assess your RTP scholarship application based on a series of criteria (academic background, research proposal, professional experience, publications and more) before making a decision.

Australian-American Fulbright Commission scholarships

The Australian-American Fulbright Commission offers postgraduate scholarships to help American students study a Masters at an Australian universities. This support includes:

  • A monthly stipend for up to 10 months
  • Travel expenses
  • Healthcare insurance
  • Networking opportunities through Fulbright Alumni

American students are also eligible for Fulbright Future Scholarships to study a Masters in Australia.

University scholarships

Australian universities are keen to recruit promising international postgraduates (like you!) and many will offer their own funding for overseas Masters students.

A good way to see what’s available is find a Masters at an Australian university that interests you, then get in touch with the institution to see what funding there is.

You could also go directly to the international postgraduate scholarship section on a university website. We’ve done a little bit of the legwork for you on that front – below you can find a list of links to scholarships at a selection of Australia’s top universities:

You’ll find that the nature of the scholarships varies greatly. Some will grant you a partial tuition fee waiver, while others will cover your fees and provide a regular stipend during your Masters.

Masters fees for international students in Australia

One of the reasons for the number of scholarships on offer for international postgraduates is that tuition fees in Australia are usually higher for non-domestic students.

If you are not an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident of Australia, you will usually be classed as an international student.

International fee estimates

The Australian Government currently estimates the cost of fees for international Masters students at between AUD $22,000 and AUD $50,000 per year (USD $17,020-38,675).

Some programmes may be more expensive than this, particularly in subjects such as Medicine and related disciplines. MBA courses are also likely to incur higher fees than other taught Masters degrees.

Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF) for international students

International postgraduates can also be charged SSAF, up to the current maximum of AUD $313 (USD $240) per year. This covers additional costs associated with your Masters degree, but not directly related to its tuition.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

You will need to have adequate health insurance during your time studying a Masters in Australia. International students usually receive this by purchasing Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) from a suitable insurer.

Different OSHC products provide different levels of cover. You can take out a cheap basic policy that satisfies your legal obligations as an international student, or purchase more extensive cover according to your needs. The average cost for a minimum coverage policy is around AUD $600 (USD $465).

Some scholarships – including Australia Awards and Research Training Programs – include OSHC in their benefits for international students.

The Australian Department of Health provides more information about OSHC cover.

Search for a Masters in Australia

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Australia on FindAMasters.com.

Masters funding for Australian students

Financial support for Australian students is available in several forms, from both public and private sources.

Note that international students are not usually eligible for the same government finance as Australian citizens.

Commonwealth supported places (CSP)

Domestic students (as well as permanent residents and citizens of New Zealand) may be able to receive Commonwealth support for a taught Masters (or ‘Masters by coursework’) in Australia. Commonwealth supported places are partially subsidised by the Australian government, which pays money directly to universities to reduce tuition fees.

Masters fees for Commonwealth supported students are much lower than those for other ‘full-fee’ students. Instead of paying the entire cost of your programme you will pay a smaller ‘student contribution fee’. This could be between AUD $3,950 and $14,500, though the actual cost will depend on the units you study and the grade bands they fall into. Find out more about Commonwealth supported postgraduate places.

Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP)

The Australian government provides support to domestic students through a national loans system. This support is referred to as the Higher Education Loan Programme, or ‘HELP’ – a pretty appropriate acronym!

HELP loans are normally only available to Australian citizens, or students with permanent humanitarian visas. This usually excludes students from New Zealand or those with other forms of visa, but there may be some exceptions for New Zealand nationals who are Special Category Visa holders and meet certain long-term residency requirements.

You can receive five different forms of ‘HELP’ for your Masters degree:

  • FEE-HELP loans help cover the cost of your tuition fees.
  • VET student loans are similar to FEE-HELP, but are provided to cover tuition on vocational education and training (VET) qualifications. These include some postgraduate courses, such as graduate certificates and graduate diplomas.
  • HECS-HELP support is only available to students on Commonwealth supported places. It provides a loan to cover your student contribution fee (the amount of tuition you pay for after your Commonwealth support is taken into account).
  • OS-HELP loans are intended for Commonwealth supported students studying part of their course overseas. In order to be eligible for an OS-HELP loan your Masters must be awarded by your ‘home’ institution in Australia. You cannot use an OS-HELP loan to pay for an entire Masters abroad.
  • SA-HELP loans are available to assist with the cost of your Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). Eligibility for SA-HELP loans is partly based on your tax status. You will need to submit your Tax File Number (TFN) as part of your application.

As of 2021, there’s a loan limit of AUD $108,232 for FEE-HELP loans. This amount is increased to AUD $155,448 for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Sciences students.

HELP repayments

Any HELP debt you incur as a Masters student in Australia will be combined into one sum, managed by the Australian Taxation Office.

Repayments are made on an income-contingent basis, above a specific threshold (currently AUD $46,620) and deducted through the Australian taxation system. The exact rate at which you repay will depend on how much you earn each year. At present, rates rise at roughly 0.5% per additional AUD $4,000 of income.

You can find more information about different HELP schemes (including repayment rates) on the Australian government’s Study Assist website.

Indigenous Student Success Program

The Indigenous Student Success Program supports indigenous Australians in higher education. You can apply for this funding if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student and can demonstrate a need for financial support.

Universities are encouraged to design their own scholarships and support using this funding, so check with your institution for the exact details and application process.

Last updated - 11/06/2021

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