Research Student Internships


A research internship is a position with a research end-user where a student undertakes research and development (R&D) activities related to their research degree. A research internship can be paid or unpaid and can form part of an enrolment or be undertaken during a period of leave.

An internship provides an opportunity for research students to identify and solve real industry problems with recommendations to improve or develop new results or solutions. Examples of R&D activities that may be conducted during a research internship include:

  • Systematic literature reviews to identify gaps and present future solutions or considerations.
  • Developing/testing prototypes or collecting prototype data.
  • Collecting and/or analysing data.
  • Developing new policies, frameworks, or regulatory/technical documents.
  • Evaluation of existing healthcare practices or programs.
  • Implementation of clinical trials.
  • Using programming skills to build algorithms, new programming languages or operating systems.
  • Producing and/or presenting creative works, curating exhibitions or events.

Why should I consider an internship?

There are numerous benefits to completing an internship during candidature including an opportunity to:

  • enhance disciplinary expertise and research capability with a research end-user
  • obtain valuable on-the-job learning opportunities
  • apply and expand technical and professional skills sought by employers
  • enhance professional networks and employability

Who can complete an internship?

All research degree students may complete an internship during candidature; only research students enrolled in a doctoral degree program whose internship meets specific requirements will be eligible for internship funding (refer to What funding is available for internships?).

When can I complete an internship?

The internship can be completed at any time following Confirmation of Candidature but must have been agreed to by the PhD student, industry partner and the University before 18 months of candidature and completed before conferral of the degree.

Scholarship payments during an internship

If you are undertaking an internship during your candidature, generally, existing scholarships will continue and you will receive scholarship payments as per usual. In some instances. If you are undertaking an internship while on leave from your candidature, existing scholarship payments will pause, in which case an industry partner funded internship scholarship may be a suitable option.  

If you receive an Industry partner-funded internship scholarship, payments will be administered by Research Student Services.

If you are an International student you may consider taking leave from your candidature and should consider your visa and, potentially, sponsor implications.

If you wish to explore internship and related scholarship opportunities please contact your supervisory team to see what support may be available for internships.

Internship programs

There are a range of specific industry programs for PhD candidates that may incorporate internships as a program element. These include the National Industry PhD Program (Australian Government Department of Education) and the CSIRO Industry PhD scholarship program. If you are interested in these programs, in the first instance discuss this with your supervisory panel. Note that it is possible for you to undertake an internship without it being tied to a specific program.

What is the process?

Step 1: Let your supervisor know you are interested in completing an internship and discuss potential industry partners and relevant research and development activities to complete during the internship.

Step 2: Secure an industry partner.

Step 3: Prior to starting your internship:

  • complete the relevant agreement(s) located in Agreement Templates;
    • Intent to Complete Internship Agreement – is required when a research internship is scheduled to begin after 18 months candidature.
    • Research Internship Agreement – is required for all research internships.
  • upload a copy of each fully signed agreement to InPlace,
  • let your Academic Unit research office know when an agreement has been uploaded,
  • check with your Academic Unit and end-user if there are any mandatory requirements to be completed prior to commencing your internship (for example: criminal record check, immunisations, medical check, or completion of training modules including work health and safety), and
  • if there are mandatory requirements, ensure evidence of these requirements are uploaded to InPlace.

Step 4: Start your internship.

Step 5: Once you have finished your internship, record completion of your internship in InPlace.

Where do I go for more information?

For more information on research degree internships please contact your local research admin team.

How do I find an internship? 

  • Talk to your supervisor if you are interested in completing an internship. They may be able to assist in securing an internship with an appropriate industry partner that is a research end-user. A research end-user can be a business, government department or organisation, or a non-government/community organisation provided they are not affiliated with a university. A research end-user must directly use or benefit from the research and development activities completed during the internship.

  • If you have an end-user on your supervisory panel, they may be able to offer an internship with their employer or know of an appropriate industry partner to approach.

  • If you are employed, consider an internship with your current (or former) employer.

  • Consider an organisation such as APRIntern who provides internships for research degree students.

  • Speak with your local research admin team as they may know of internship opportunities on offer in your Academic Unit.
  • Research Internship Agreement – required for all research internships and must be signed by all parties in advance of the internship.

UniSA is committed to supporting industry engagement opportunities that enhance research student experience by building employability skills and developing research capabilities.

Research internships provide research students an opportunity to engage with industry during their candidature; providing a focused opportunity to develop the technical and professional skills sought by employers.

Supervisors can support research students by discussing early in candidature whether an internship is appropriate and if so, assist in identifying suitable end-users for them to complete an internship with.

To drive engagement with industry the federal government is providing financial incentives to universities whose PhD graduates have completed a research internship meeting certain requirements (refer to Department of Education for further information). While the University is keen to maximise its RTP entitlements this type of industry engagement experience will not suit all research students.

Each research internship must be supported by an agreement signed by all parties (research degree student, University representative and industry party) prior to 18 months candidature (refer to Agreement Templates).

For more information on research degree internships please contact your local research admin team.