PhD studies in Ecosystem and Forest Science

Do you see yourself developing new ways to integrate trees into urban environments? Trialling canopy bridges to connect mammal populations? How about exploring the genetic properties of eucalypts or understanding carbon in forests?

If you're interested in any of these topics, and many more, studying for a PhD in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences could be the first step in an exciting research career.

What does a PhD involve?

Over 3 years (or longer if part time), you’ll complete a research project that adds key knowledge to your chosen field. You’ll write up your findings in an 80,000-word thesis.

Throughout your PhD you’ll be guided by a supervisor who’s an expert in their field.

Your research work will be supported by state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure at the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. You will have opportunities to engage with land and water management agencies, forest industry or non-government organisations.

Be sure to read all the general information on the Doctor of Philosophy – Science, in addition to this page.

What can I study?

Some of the areas you can take a deep dive into when you study a PhD with us are: landscape management, sustainable forestry, environmental psychology, bushfire management, urban ecology and horticulture, waterway ecosystems and plant physiology.

Research in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Science covers an exciting mix of:

  • Fundamental research that investigates how organisms and ecosystems function
  • More applied research with practical and management outcomes in mind
  • Environmental social research into the human element of ecosystems.

Read more about research in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences

Where will this take me?

A PhD is an essential qualification for a research career in ecosystem and forest science. It’s also a ticket to international research opportunities.

Our PhD graduates can find rewarding careers in:

  • Research and teaching in universities
  • Public research organisations such as the CSIRO
  • Industries including forestry, water and conservation
  • Governmental organisations such as VicForests, Melbourne Water, Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning
  • Consulting and professional services firms.

Kylie Soanes in the field, looking at a scale.

“My PhD research assessed the benefit of building road-crossing structures to improve the connectivity of tree-based mammal populations. I believe that human-caused biodiversity loss is unnecessary and unacceptable. I believe we can do better. And I believe science can help us do that.”

Dr Kylie Soanes – Wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist
PhD in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, now working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne in the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

Pathways to a PhD

Our PhD students come to us after undertaking research training either:

Read more about the entry requirements

How do I find a supervisor?

Our researchers are internationally renowned experts in their fields.

To find potential supervisors, browse the research groups in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences or use Find an Expert to search for keywords.

How to apply

All the details about how to apply can be found with the general information for the Doctor of Philosophy – Science.

Both the Doctor of Philosophy - Science (PhD) and Master of Philosophy - Science are available, but most applicants apply directly for a PhD.

The Ecology and Evolution PhD program

For those looking for a PhD in one of these fields, there’s the additional option of enrolling in our Ecology and Evolution PhD program.

You’ll receive extra support in the form of workshops, short courses, mentoring, placements and internships, with a particular focus on quantitative skills.

More about the Ecology and Evolution PhD program

Scholarships and fees

Most domestic and international students who are offered a PhD place with us will also be offered a Graduate Research Scholarship.

Receiving this scholarship means you’ll pay no tuition fees. You’ll also receive a living allowance and relocation grant (if relocating to Melbourne).

When you apply for a PhD with us, you’ll be automatically considered for a Graduate Research Scholarship. There’s no need to apply separately.

A huge variety of other scholarships are also available. Search our scholarships to find the ones you’re eligible for.


Before getting in touch, please read this page carefully, plus all the information available for the Doctor of Philosophy (Science).

If you still have questions, we’ll be happy to help. Email us on