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Academic requirements for admission to the PhD

There are a number of pathways that allow entry into the PhD programme at the University of Otago. All applicants must be university graduates, and must also have some substantive and demonstrable research experience.

Note that the pathways below represent the academic requirements for admission to the PhD. Admission is also dependent on there being resourcing, including appropriate supervision, available for the proposed project.

Candidates not meeting the requirements for admission to the PhD may wish to consider Master’s study as an alternative. Completion of such study will usually allow subsequent doctoral-level study, and in some circumstances it may also be possible to upgrade a master’s degree to a PhD (complete a degree begun as a Master’s at PhD level).


University of Otago Honours degrees 

Otago Honours degrees awarded at upper second class level or higher allow entry to the PhD, so long as they contain a significant research component (i.e. an Honours dissertation)


University of Otago Master’s degrees

Assuming reasonable grades are achieved (overall grade point average of B+ or better and B+ or better for the research component), and a substantive research project is involved (normally 60 points or higher), students with an Otago Master’s degree may have direct entry into PhD study. It is expected that coursework in research methodology will have been completed at either undergraduate or postgraduate level.


Other Otago degrees

Some other Otago degrees, for example postgraduate diplomas with dissertations, may also allow entry to the PhD. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. An alternative degree must include a supervised research component at least equivalent to an honours dissertation and research methods study is also recommended.


Qualifications from other New Zealand Universities

As qualifications at other New Zealand Universities are usually very similar to those at Otago, the same rules apply as those listed above for Otago degrees. Note that an honours or Master’s degree must include a supervised research component at least equivalent to an Otago honours dissertation and previous research methods study is recommended.


International qualifications

International qualifications will be assessed in terms of their broad equivalence to Otago Honours or Masters’ degrees. A qualifying degree must include a supervised research component such as a substantial thesis or dissertation and previous research methods study is recommended. Usually it would be expected that at least four years of tertiary study had been completed prior to embarking on a PhD.

If unsure of the equivalence of an international qualification to an Otago degree, it is recommended that potential supervisors view an applicant’s previous research in order to check that it is at least comparable to an Otago Honours dissertation (i.e. of similar length and academic rigour). It is likewise recommended that applicants have an electronic version of their previous research available in case they are asked to provide this. If the previous research is not easily accessible or is in a language other than English, it is recommended that the applicant provide a brief summary to their potential supervisor, including a description of the research carried out, the length of time spent on the project, and the size of the resulting thesis or dissertation.


Entry based on research experience outside of study

University graduates who have not completed significant research as part of their previous study may still be considered for entry to the PhD if they have subsequent work-based research experience, including research outputs. Usually, such outputs must consist of peer-reviewed, academic publications. Note that industry-based (non-academic) research is not considered sufficient to allow admission to the PhD.