The date has not been set.
Rudd who first entered the Australian parliament in 1998 will try to end Howard’s reign as the second-longest-serving prime minister in the Australian parliament’s 105-year history.
A former diplomat to Beijing and Stockholm, he graduated with first class honours in Chinese language and history from the Australian National University.
His running mate, Julia Gillard, was elected unopposed as the party’s deputy leader.
In his first press conference as party leader, Rudd said he would use his role to emphasise Australia's relationship with both China and the United States.
China is fast becoming one of Australia's most important trading partners, supplying much of the Chinese demand for iron ore, coal, natural gas and soon, uranium.
Australia also has a 55-year-old defense pact with the United States, which Rudd said he intended to uphold.
"I'm rock solid on the alliance with the United States," Rudd told reporters.
"I have never seen that as being mutually exclusive of a strong relationship with the People's Republic of China."