Doctor of Philosophy


The UC Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a research-only degree carried out under expert supervision and using world-class facilities. At UC you can complete a PhD in over 70 subjects, joining over 1,000 students from more than 60 nations.

A PhD involves extensive, sustained and original research and study in your chosen subject, with the results being presented in a thesis that will contribute to intellectual knowledge of the field. It is a mark of intellectual ability, self-discipline and commitment. A PhD prepares you for a number of careers, including as an academic.

Features of the PhD at UC

  • In addition to expert supervision UC provides all doctoral students with opportunities to gain transferable skills in areas including communication of research, networking, career planning, databases, statistical analysis, ethics, professional practice, and cultural awareness.
  • UC has a number of unique research facilities, collections, resources and field stations; many of which are renowned globally. Please see the PhD brochure or the research website to find out more about these resources.
  • The University has a thriving postgraduate research community which includes clubs and associations that students can join for social interaction and support. See the postgraduate student page for links.
  • To find out more about the research interests of staff, start by searching UC SPARK. UC SPARK provides information about individual researchers, the projects they are working on, the research groups they belong to, the specialist equipment that they use for research and their affiliations.
  • There are many benefits for international students studying towards a PhD in New Zealand – see the PhD brochure for details.

Entry requirements

Enrolment in a PhD requires completion of a research-focused honours or master’s degree at first-class or second-class division 1 level (or equivalent qualifications). PhD candidates must contact a potential supervisor before applying. Information about the research interests of academic staff (supervisors) can be found on the relevant department website or the UC SPARK website. See the PhD brochure for more details.

Applicants with qualifications from outside New Zealand must have been granted admission to the University. Our admissions team, in consultation with the host department, look at your qualifications and transcripts to ensure that you have the background required to complete a PhD. It is possible that you may be required to complete preparatory courses prior to or after admission into a PhD programme.

In exceptional circumstances applicants without the typical academic background but who can demonstrate the ability to pursue a PhD may be admitted at the discretion of the Dean of Postgraduate Research.

For the full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy or use the admission requirements checker.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Qualification structure and duration

Candidates may begin a PhD on the first day of any month of the year and regard study and research as a full-time occupation throughout the calendar year.

The minimum period of enrolment for a full-time candidate is 36 months and the maximum period 48 months; most PhD students take between three and three-and-a-half years. There are provisions for candidates to apply for part-time study, in which case the minimum period is 55 months and they should complete their thesis within 74 months.**

Note: approval for international students to study part-time is only granted in exceptional circumstances and has implications on the status of their student visa.

** Subject to Universities New Zealand CUAP approval, due December 2017.

Subjects and courses

Subject areas for the Doctor of Philosophy are:

* Not open to new enrolments in 2018.

** Subject to Universities New Zealand CUAP approval, due December 2017.

How to apply

Find out how to apply for PhD and Doctoral degrees.

More information

For more information see the Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

For study planning help contact contact the Dean of Postgraduate Research or the Postgraduate Office:

Postgraduate Office
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha 
Private Bag 4800 
Christchurch 8140 
New Zealand

Phone +64 3 369 2244
Email postgraduate-office@canterbury.ac.nz

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