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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Marketing

If you’re considering an academic career, you’ll need a PhD. Increasingly, senior business people also have PhDs and the skills you will acquire as you undertake advanced research will stand you in good stead, whichever direction your career might take.

The PhD is a specialised thesis-only degree and differs from a masters degree thesis in scope, depth and originality. It’s rigorous and demanding and represents significant independent research. A PhD consists three years of full-time study and students should aim to submit their thesis within this period; part-time study is also available and a PhD may be taken over six years part-time.

Entrance requirements for a PhD in Marketing

Entry to our PhD programme involves a rigorous assessment of your performance in preliminary postgraduate degrees. An MBA or applied Masterate is not a normal entry point for a PhD and, if you have not undertaken advanced study in marketing theory or research methods, we will require you to enrol in papers and meet a high standard in these so you have the knowledge and skills to undertake PhD research. In some cases, we may require you to enrol in a PGDipCom or MCom before we can assess your suitability as a PhD candidate.

If you are an international student, please note that you must have achieved an overall IELTS score of 6.5 to gain entry to our programme; students not meeting this criterion will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. We would normally expect a score of 7.0 for the Writing component.

In exceptional cases (where the scope and quality of their research justifies it), MCom students may apply to upgrade to a PhD. Details of upgrading from an MCom to a PhD are available from the PhD Director and are outlined in the PhD Handbook.

Application for supervision

Entry to the PhD programme at the University of Otago is competitive. The first step is to supply the following information:

  • A certified copy of your full academic record (i.e., all the papers you have studied and your record of achievement in these).
  • Details of the research you undertook during your Masterate; a copy of the summary and conclusions chapter is often helpful.
  • International students must also supply evidence of their performance in IELTS (we require students to have an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall and, in normal circumstances not less than 7.0 for the Writing band or evidence of having successfully completed post-graduate study in English.
  • An indication of whether or not you will require a Scholarship to undertake study at the University of Otago.
  • Two academic reference letters attesting to your research ability (if your last degree was completed several years ago, we can consider a letter from your employer).
  • A detailed proposal for the PhD (five to ten pages long, not including references) that explains the topic of the PhD in the context of relevant literature and clearly demonstrates the aims of the PhD and how these will add to academic knowledge/fill a gap in academic understanding.
  • Your Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) report, if one is required with your application (international students only).

We strongly recommend that you review current staff members’ research interests when developing your research question(s).

Research activities for current staff in the Department of Marketing

Your brief proposal will enable us to assess whether suitable supervision is available in the Department. Please note that we cannot guarantee supervision; this will depend on the alignment between your question and our interests, as well as on staff members’ current commitments. The PhD Director will advise you of staff who could potentially provide supervision and they will then contact you to set up a meeting where you have an opportunity to learn more about each other’s work and interests, and approaches to research and supervision.

If following these discussions, the supervisor/s confirm their availability to supervise, we will then invite you to submit a formal application to enrol in our PhD programme to the University. Please note that our ability to provide supervision does not guarantee acceptance by the University – a formal application to the University must be made separately after the Department has agreed to provide supervision.

Administrative and academic staff from several departments will review your formal application and, if this is successful, you will be offered a place in our programme.

More information on the PhD in Marketing at Otago

PhD programme on the Graduate Research School website
Extensive information about the PhD, including registration, enrolment and scholarship information.

International at the University of Otago website
International students wishing to apply for postgraduate study should contact the International Office of the University.

Contact details

For further information, please contact the PhD Director:

Dr Sergio Biggemann
Room 4.10, Otago Business School
Tel +64 3 479 8467


If you are ready to submit your application:

Apply now