Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Application process

Applying for our MA and PhD degrees involves a two-stage process in which the initial application to the Programme is followed by a formal application to the university.

  1. Familiarise yourself with staff expertise, by visiting our staff page.
  2. Identify a potential supervisor* who has relevant expertise in your area of interest and submit
  3. an Expression of Interest, which comprises:
    • Tentative project title/topic
    • Brief description of the proposed research project, emphasising the theoretical basis, literature to be consulted, and intended methods (750 words maximum, excl. reference list)
    • Brief rationale for undertaking the study and an indication of the potential contribution to scholarship (250 words maximum)
    • Indication of whether enrolment is dependent on receiving a scholarship
    • University transcript
  4. After favourable review of your Expression of Interest you will be invited to submit a full application, comprising:
    • A brief research proposal, which clearly states your topic and research question; shows familiarity with relevant literature; offers a clear explanation of proposed methods and demonstrates the significance and feasibility of the project. This document is based on your EoI and should be kept to a maximum of 1,500 words (excluding references). It is expected that this initial proposal will be revised and enhanced during your first year of study in consultation with your supervisor/s
    • Writing sample (this can include a published output, dissertation chapter or academic essay)
    • CV (including names and contact details of up to 3 referees)
  5. Once your application has been endorsed by your prospective supervisor/s, it will be submitted on your behalf to our Postgraduate Committee for consideration.
  6. If accepted by the Postgraduate Committee, you will be invited to apply formally to the university.

* If you are unsure of which staff member is suitable as a supervisor, but still keen to pursue your degree with us, please send your Expression of Interest to


The University of Otago has MA and PhD scholarships that cover fees and living expenses and are available year-round. There are also a number of other scholarships at the university and nationally. These scholarships are highly competitive, and applicants with A or A+ marks are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please visit the Graduate Research School for more information about scholarships.

More information

International students

International students can find out more from the International Office.

Contact us

We look forward to guiding you through the application process. If you have any questions, please contact:

The Postgraduate Administrator

Back to top