GRDC Research Scholarship

We are focused on delivering value to Australian grain growers through our research, development and extension (RD&E) investments. Investment in capacity and ability programs ensures we have access to a pipeline of researchers with the requisite abilities to deliver grains RD&E that will contribute to the enduring profitability of our growers.

Our support for PhD students helps us bridge gaps in priority science disciplines to deliver novel research for impact. Our focus for GRDC Research Scholarships (GRS) is on innovative research proposals addressing grower constraints or opportunities that will contribute to grower profitability.

Scholars will be supported to attend a GRS Symposium early in 2021, be provided opportunities for professional development, training and facilitated industry engagement to accelerate their research careers.

We are seeking applications that address one or more priority research areas identified for the 2021 cohort.

Please read the GRS application information before commencing an application.

Key dates

  • Thursday 29 October 2020 - 2021 applications open
  • Thursday 26 November 2020 - 3pm AEST, 2021 applications close
  • Late December 2020 - Planned notification to applicants of provisionary 2021 outcome
  • April 2021 - 2021 GRS cohort symposium


Applications must be submitted by the student (not the supervisor) via the GRDC Grains Investment Portal by 3pm AEDST, Thursday 26 November.

This is an online form with predetermined fields and character limits. Referee reports and academic record must be attached to the application, no other attachments will be accepted or considered.

Before applying please download and read the GRS Program application information to ensure you understand the Program and what is expected in your application.

If you have questions that are not answered in this document, please send an email to using reference #PROC-9176294

Eligibility criteria

These are conditions applicants must fulfil to be eligible to apply for the scholarships. These are used to determine if the application will be considered by GRDC:

  1. The applicant must be admitted into full time post-graduate study.
  2. The applicant must not have commenced their PhD. In 2021, GRDC is only accepting applications from students who have not yet started their PhD studies.
  3. The applicant must submit at least two referee reports on the GRDC template, including from the proposed principal supervisor. If your referee would prefer to submit their report directly to GRDC, please email for further instructions.
  4. The applicant must be awarded a Research Training Programs (RTP) scholarship or equivalent. International students must be awareded a university tuition fee waiver and living allowance.*

*Applicants must show proof of scholarship. If outcome of RTP application or equivalent is unknown at the time of your GRS application, success in receiving a GRS will be dependent on the student confirming they have been awarded an RTP or equivalent prior to contracting.

Evaluation criteria

These are the items against which applications will be evaluated. Each criterion is scored and used to do an initial ranking of applications.

1.Proposed research topic

In 500 words or less, describe the research project that would be undertaken if this application was successful. We strongly urge all applicants to consider our identified priority area of research.

2.Industry impact

In 250 words or less, demonstrate how your PhD will impact the Australian grains industry and contribute to grower profitability.

3.Student academic record and research ability

Attach a copy of the most recent academic record. In 250 words or less explain why you believe you have the potential to be a successful GRS scholar.

4.Supervisor track record

In 250 words or less explain why the supervisory team has the expertise and experience to successfully supervise a GRS scholar. Supervisor track record does not need to be in grains related research, but if not should explain how the supervisory team can help the student deliver impact for the grains industry.

5.Research environment 

In 250 words or less explain why the research environment is suitable to host a GRS scholar. How will it foster a scholar’s learning and professional development, and enable a positive research outcome?

Scholarship value

The GRS is a top up scholarship to the value of 75% of the 2021 base RTP stipend rate for a maximum of 3 years.

In addition, scholars will receive:

  • $10,000 per annum to cover operating costs
  • up to $5,000 travel to attend conferences, workshops or skills development which will be paid in a lump sum in the second year (this is separate to the travel expenses associated with the GRS Symposium).
 Year 1Year 2Year 3
Travel up to-$5,000-

Priority research areas

Applications should address the below priority research outcomes identified by GRDC and its stakeholders. The priority areas are from our Data & Analytics Framework, or are a subset of the Key Investment Targets in the GRDC Research Development and Extension Plan 2018-23.

KITKIT Outcome
KIT have improved knowledge of how different crop input and canopy management practices influence yield under heat stress.
KIT grains industry has access to accurate information about the relationships between the severity and timing of frost events and their impact on yields of major grain crops.
KIT key addressable constraints and opportunities for improving yield potential and reliability in current production zones are identified and prioritised.
KIT and their advisers understand the scope of the yield gap opportunity and the associated constraints.
KIT and researchers understand the life cycle, dispersal, survival and distribution characteristics of diseases.
KIT and researchers understand the life cycles, host interactions, dispersal, survival and distribution of pests and their predators, to better inform pest management decisions.
KIT understands who the key influencers impacting growers’ decision-making for specific types of management decisions.
KIT has identified the risks, driving forces and barriers to adoption of key management decisions.
Data & AnalyticsEnhance the delivery of GRDC KITs through the development and/or application of new and novel analytics i.e. applied statistics, machine learning, predictive modelling.
Enhance the delivery of GRDC KITs through the development and/or novel application of new crop monitoring technologies.

Key documents

The GRS will be contracted with the recipient’s university on a GRDC Research Scholarship Agreement.


Enquiries are to be submitted via email. Questions will be de-identified and both question and response from GRDC will be and uploaded to this page to benefit all applicants.

Attention: Tegan Slade

Email:  using reference #PROC-9176294

Questions and answers

Q1. I am an overseas student studying at an Australian university. Am I eligible to apply?

A1. Yes, as long as you have been awarded a university tuition fee waiver and living allowance.

Q2. I am due to finish a bachelor’s degree in science, agriculture or a relevant discipline at an Australian university at the end of this year. Am I eligible to apply?

A2. Yes, candidates in their final year of a degree are eligible to apply for a GRS. If successful, it will be provisional on receipt of their transcript demonstrating academic excellence.

Q3. I did not achieve a 1st Class or upper 2nd Class honours, am I eligible to apply for GRS?

A3. Yes, but only if you are awarded a tuition waiver and living allowance equivalent to an RTP scholarship.

Q4. As a supervisor am I eligible to apply for any of the scholarships in anticipation of attracting a student later?

A4. No, the application must be submitted by the student themselves.

Q5. What awards are considered equivalents of Research Training Program award?

A5. Any competitive scholarships from the university, research organisations or any other entity within Australia. This scholarship should cover tuition and stipend equivalent to an RTP scholarship.

Q6. Can I get an extension if I am unable to submit my application by the due date?

A6. No. An extension of the closing date will not be granted under any circumstances.

Q7. Can I submit more than one application?

A7. No, only one application is allowed per applicant.

Q8. Can I discuss my research idea with GRDC prior to submitting my application?

A8. Approaching GRDC to discuss a research idea prior to submission of an application will be refused. All enquiries are to be submitted via email to

GRDC encourages applicants to understand our priorities, grower constraints and opportunities to improve profitability.

Engaging with growers or industry is preferred to avoid perceptions of evaluation bias.  Our managers will work with successful applicants to further guide their PhD research to enable real impact for industry.

Q9. Can I apply for scholarship to study part-time?

A9. No. The scholarships are designed for full-time study.

Q10. What is covered under the travel/ training amount?

A10. The travel and training budget can be used for travelling to conferences, including overseas conferences, attending workshops relevant to your studies, and undertaking skill development such as statistics and biometrics courses, bioinformatics training.

Q11. Would it be possible for a PhD student to apply if they started their PhD only a few months ago e.g. July 2020?

A11. Unfortunately, no.  The GRS program is only available to students who will be commencing their studies in 2021.

Q12. Am I eligible for a GRDC scholarship as a M.Phil candidate or is it only for PHD Scholars?

A12.  The GRDC Research Scholarship is only available to students that are commencing PhD studies in 2021. Unfortunately, students completing a M.Phil are ineligible to apply.

Q13. When inputting the application, how do I complete the Service Provider and Title components of the application?

A13. The Service Provider will be the institution where you will be undertaking your study. The institution’s name and ABN are required for the application.

The Title component will be the title of your proposed research proposal. Guide: submitting a GRS application via GRDC Grains Investment Portal

Q14. The outcome of my application (of both the tuition fee waiver and the RTG living stipend) will be known to me only by December 18th.  Would you please clarify whether I am still eligible to apply for the GRDC Research Scholarship top-up?

A14. Yes, you are still eligible to apply for a GRS. Success in receiving a GRS will be provisional and dependent on the student confirming they have been awarded an RTP or equivalent prior to contracting.

Q15. The field to respond to evaluation criterion 1 only has capacity for 2,000 characters. I am unable to fit 500 words in this field.

A15. The online application form has character limits for some fields that are imposed by the system, unfortunately this may impact the number of words you have to respond to these criteria.  Consider the key information evaluators need to understand and consider the importance (or impact for growers) of the proposed research topic.  GRDC may request more information from applicants during the evaluation process if necessary.

Q16. Is the GRS or any other scholarship available to masters students about to undertake their masters thesis in 2021?

A16. The GRS program is only available to students who will be commencing a PhD in 2021.

GRDC does not have a program to support individuals undertaking a Masters.