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Research opportunities at the SJWRI

The Faculty of Dentistry offers a number of doctoral and other postgraduate qualifications for working dental professionals and for students seeking a career in dental research. Our postgraduate and professional students benefit from our research-informed, collegial approach.

PhD and DClinDent doctoral research opportunities

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy is awarded on the submission of a thesis and an oral examination in which you must reveal your ability to carry out research, show originality, independence, and make a significant contribution to knowledge in your chosen field. Most students take between 3–4 years of full-time study to complete their PhD. A Bachelors degree with Honours or a Masters degree in a field related to your research interests is a prerequisite. The PhD degree does not lead to registration for dental practice in New Zealand.

More on the PhD programme at Otago

I’m interested in doing a PhD - what do I do next?

All PhD students within the Faculty of Dentistry are enrolled through the Sir John Walsh Research Institute, and conduct research in one or more of our key areas of research (research programmes). We recommend that you look through these on our website (links at right) and decide on the area of research that interests you most. You should then contact an academic staff member leading that programme and, if they are able to support a project in that area, develop with them a suitable research proposal. You can then go through the application process to enrol for PhD admission through the University’s Graduate Research School.

More information on the application process and entry requirements for a PhD is available on the Otago GRS website.

Our Postgraduate Research Opportunities database advertises a selection of current PhD and other postgraduate research projects available for students.


Doctor in Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent)

The Doctorate in Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent) degree provides graduate training in specialist clinical disciplines in dentistry (listed at right). The aim of each discipline programme is to prepare graduate students to become registered specialists in that discipline. The emphasis in the DClinDent is on specialist clinical practice, however the degree also includes a substantial research component, where candidates conduct research in one or more of our research programmes. You will present your research in a thesis and will demonstrate a significant contribution to knowledge in a particular field.

I'm interested in doing a DClinDent - what do I do next?

Visit the DClinDent section of the Faculty of Dentistry website for comprehensive information about these DClinDent specialisations, entry requirements and how to apply. Because training requirements for registration in each area of specialisation vary, entry requirements may be different for each.

More on the DClinDent programme within the Faculty of Dentistry
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the DClinDent programme
Profiles of some of our recent DClinDent graduates


University of Otago Doctoral Scholarships

If you require scholarship funding to support your doctoral studies, please visit the Scholarships section of the Otago GRS website. Doctoral scholarships for PhD and DClinDent candidates are administered by the Graduate Research School. Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis according to GPA and publication record. If you have already secured a scholarship from your home country, please make this clear when you contact potential supervisors.

Please note that Scholarships provide for living costs and tuition fees but do not cover the cost of research projects. We generally do not take on doctoral students without first identifying a source of funding to support the research project, thus there may be a period of discussion and negotiation before we accept a candidate.

Other postgraduate study opportunities

If you’re interested in doing a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or other postgraduate course in Dentistry, Dental Technology or Oral Health, please visit the Postgraduate section of the Faculty of Dentistry webpage to identify the course of postgraduate study you are most interested in pursuing. Each qualification section has links for further information on courses, entry requirements and application processes.


For international students

We accept both Domestic and International Applicants to the majority of our postgraduate programmes, including our PhD and DClinDent programmes. If you are an international student, please visit the University of Otago International Office website for information on any queries you may have regarding the application process, scholarship information and eligibility criteria for Postgraduate studies at the University of Otago. For example, the University of Otago has specific English language proficiency requirements for students for whom English is not their first language.

The majority of PhD candidates, both international and domestic, pay domestic fees for PhD study. To qualify for domestic PhD fees as an international student you must reside in New Zealand during your studies.


Working as a dentist while undertaking postgraduate study

If you are intending to work as a Dentist to support yourself whilst undertaking postgraduate study, you will need to register as a dentist within New Zealand. Please note that this registration, along with complying with immigration regulations, is your responsibility.


For all postgraduate enquiries contact us by email at postgrad.dentistry@otago.ac.nz.

For all research enquiries contact us at sjwri.admin@otago.ac.nz.


Undergraduate opportunities

Support and information for students:

Undergraduate scholarships

Forensic Biology summer school course

Science for secondary schools

Open to the public

Opportunities for postdoctoral researchers

Health Sciences Career Development Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Health Sciences Career Development Programme offers postdoctoral fellowships to outstanding graduates who have recently completed a degree at doctoral level, to complete a postdoctoral fellowship within the Division of Health Sciences, including the SJWRI Faculty of Dentistry. These postdoctoral fellowships are available each year, with application rounds in May and November.

More on Health Sciences postdoctoral fellowships

Sir Thomas Kay Sidey Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Sir Thomas Kay Sidey Postdoctoral Fellowships are intended to support outstanding graduates who have recently completed a degree at doctoral level to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship in the Sir John Walsh Research Institute. Their purpose is to attract or retain candidates of the highest calibre to undertake research and teaching in the Faculty of Dentistry. The Fellowship award consists of one or two years' salary, plus up to NZ$12,000 per year in working expenses.

The 2019 Sir Thomas Kay Sidey Postdoctoral Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Ian Towle, under the mentorship of Dr Carolina Loch, for two years. We hope to offer this opportunity again in future years.