Finishing on time

Find out about thesis submission deadlines, how to apply for an extension, and what options are available if you’re having difficulty during your enrolment and need more time to submit.

If you’ve been directed to this page after having an extension or lapse approved, please follow these links to find out what you need to know.

Thesis due dates

You are expected to submit your thesis for examination within your expected course duration:

  • PhD/doctoral candidate: within three years (part time six years)
  • Masters candidate: within 18 months (part time three years).

Your expected thesis submission date may change during your candidature, for example if you take leave of absence, change your research degree, or change between full and part time study.

You can check your expected thesis submission date through my.unimelb.

If your research has not gone to plan and you need more time, there is the facility to extend the expected course duration to the maximum course duration as part of your progress review meeting:

  • four years (part time eight years) for PhD or doctorate.
  • two years (part time four years) for masters.

If you had commenced, but not reached your maximum course duration by 1 March 2020 your maximum course duration has been extended by 6 months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If this applies to you, your duration will be:

  • 4 years 6 months (9 years part time) for a PhD or doctoral degree.
  • 2 years 6 months (5 years part time) for a masters by research degree.

Permission to submit after your maximum course duration

In limited circumstances, you may be granted approval to submit your thesis after your maximum course duration date; that is after all possible extensions to your candidature have been exhausted.

There are two options that may allow you to submit your thesis after your maximum course duration:

  • Lapse: this option applies if your candidature was confirmed on or before 31 December 2017.
  • Late submission: applies if your candidature was confirmed on or after 1 January 2018.


If you are experiencing difficulties during your candidature that may affect your ability to progress, consider these steps.

  1. Talk to your supervisor
  2. Make a student advice appointment with your local graduate research administrator
  3. Consider making changes to your candidature (eg take leave or change to part time)
  4. If you have a chronic health condition, you are encouraged to register with Student Equity and Disability Services (SEDS). SEDS can create an adjustment plan/document that recognises your needs but does not necessarily disclose your condition. The academic adjustment plan supports you when negotiating your study adjustments with your supervisors. You can refer to your adjustment plan when making leave or other relevant applications, rather than requiring separate medical certificates. If you register with SEDS you may also be eligible to apply for prospective periods of leave to account for any anticipated recurring short absences.  See the Managing leave for ongoing chronic health conditions section of Taking Leave
  5. Review University managed online resources:
  6. Review external online resources
  7. Access University support services