Work experience student and supervisor standing in front of computer and fume hood

Work experience is a great way to participate in real-life science.

About CSIRO vacation scholarships

Run over the summer holidays, CSIRO's vacation scholarships scheme offers undergraduate students the opportunity of collaborating with CSIRO scientists.

  • 29 July 2011 | Updated 20 August 2013

Each year around 200 university students spend their summer holidays working with CSIRO.

Vacation scholars can go on to do further work with CSIRO. Some have been offered the opportunity of doing their honours or PhD projects jointly with us; others have been offered paid employment.

Indeed, several Chiefs of CSIRO Divisions can trace their history with the organisation back to a summer vacation scholarship.

Who offers scholarships

CSIRO is Australia's national science agency with 12 research Divisions and 11 National Research Flagships.

It varies from year to year, but around half our Divisions offer vacation scholarships.

Participating Divisions include:

  • Animal, Food and Health Sciences
  • Astronomy and Space Science
  • Computational Informatics (CCI)
  • Ecosystem Sciences
  • Energy Technology
  • Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE)
  • Plant Industry.

All our Divisions have multiple locations.

Our vacation scholarship scheme offers students the chance to work on a real project in science, engineering or a related field such as science communication.

What scholarships offer you

Our vacation scholarship scheme offers students the chance to work on a real project in science, engineering or a related field such as science communication.

Placements are full time and typically begin in late November or early December and run anywhere from 8–12 weeks.

Successful applicants get to expand their skills and knowledge and there are often opportunities to attend conferences and training courses too.

Students are usually required to write up their work and present it to their peers and supervisors at the end of the summer.

Vacation students are paid a stipend, but are not CSIRO employees. The amount of the stipend varies between Divisions and can depend on how far you are into your degree, but is currently up to A$730 a week.

In most cases students also receive financial assistance with travel and accommodation costs – the provision of assistance and its value varies between each Division.


Vacation scholarships are intended primarily for students who:

  • are currently enrolled at an Australian university
  • have completed three years of a full-time undergraduate course
  • have a strong academic record
  • intend to go on to honours and/or postgraduate study.

How to apply

You should determine which Division is likely to offer projects in your area of interest and look for further information linked to from this page and the Vacation Scholarships page.

All positions are advertised on CSIRO Positions Vacant. The first positions are advertised in July, but most become available in August. Closing dates for applications varies: the range is August to October, with most closing in late September.

Each Division has its own criteria and application process which will be detailed along with the position information.

Find out what past students got up to in What I did on my holidays.