Civilian undergraduate sponsorship

The Defence Civilian Undergraduate Sponsorship (DCUS) is open to aspiring university students who wish to pursue a degree through the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra campus at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). 

Applications for the 2022 DCUS have now closed.

Keep an eye on the website for future opportunities!

There are no military service obligations or requirements. This is a sponsorship for civilian students who may be interested in a civilian career in the Department of Defence.

The Department of Defence will determine the undergraduate degree disciplines that will be offered from the following options:

  • Bachelor of Engineering (4 years)
    • Aeronautical,
    • Electrical and 
    • Mechanical.
  • Bachelor of Computing and Cyber Security (3 years)

Eligible applicants will have the full tuition costs of their degree covered by the Department of Defence sponsorship agreement and receive a generous annual allowance to cover the cost of text books and equipment.

During the sponsorship students may have the opportunity to participate in paid work placements within Defence which will provide exciting opportunities and give an insight into how one of Australia’s largest organisations conducts business.

The Department of Defence is offering sponsorships to students who have completed their secondary education and are interested in pursuing a degree as a civilian student on campus at the UNSW Canberra at ADFA. Civilian students will learn alongside military cadets who are training in order to join the Australian Defence Force in either the Navy, Army or Air Force.

During the final year of study, you will apply for a position in the Defence Graduate Program to commence your career in Defence.

Your Eligibility

To be eligible for the DCUS you must:

  • be an Australian citizen
  • have not previously enrolled in a university degree
  • achieve the required minimum ATAR for your degree
  • meet the UNSW admission requirements for your degree.

What we Offer

As a sponsorship recipient in the DCUS, you will have:

  • the opportunity to study at the UNSW Canberra at ADFA which is one of Australia’s most respected universities and has the best student-to-teacher ratio in the country
  • full tuition costs for your Bachelor degree – this means no Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) fees
  • a generous allowance of $2000 per annum to put towards the cost of text books and other study expenses
  • an opportunity for practical work placements, which in some cases will form part of the professional requirements of your degree
  • the benefit of Defence experience when applying for the Defence Graduate Program in the final year of your undergraduate degree
  • exposure to a unique and diverse organisation with great career opportunities
  • an opportunity to work on projects with leading edge technology.

Work Placements

Work experience placements will be organised for you during the summer holidays over the course of your degree. Depending on your discipline, placements will be for a period of six to twelve weeks, to enable you to obtain a good understanding of the work area’s key deliverables and how areas work cohesively to deliver a product or service. During your work placements you may work with other sponsorship recipients under the guidance of an experienced Defence APS professional.

Work placement locations will be determined by the sponsoring areas and Defence will cover your travel and accommodation costs associated with your work placement if the project is outside Canberra.

How do I successfully complete the DCUS?

To complete the DCUS successfully you need to:

  • successfully complete your degree within the relevant full study load time frame
  • participate in your work placements
  • develop and demonstrate your professionalism
  • apply for the Defence Graduate Program in your final year of study
  • demonstrate your values by committing to the sponsorship program and complying with the APS, ADFA and UNSW codes of conduct.

Stage 1 - Online Application

Selection is based on academic merit; relevant interests and career aspirations on graduation and in the long term for your chosen discipline/degree; and performance at interview. Tenure is dependent on satisfactory progress.

Applications are to be submitted via the Defence online recruitment website. You will need to answer a few questions about your experience, submit a resume, and provide details of two current referees.

Stage 2 - Interviews

If you are considered suitable based on your application, you will be invited to attend an interview. These will most likely be conducted in Canberra (Defence can provide travel assistance for you to get to Canberra, or in the event the interview is held outside of Canberra, to your nearest capital city).

Assessments: October 2021

Stage 3 - Final Selection

If you are successful you will be offered a sponsorship on the 2022 DCUS which will commence in February 2022.

Please note all DCUS offers are subject to UNSW eligibility requirements.

Selection offers: November 2021


If you have any questions about the DCUS program or application process, please email or call 02 5109 8228.