Doctor of Philosophy – PhD

A prestigious research qualification that demonstrates your ability to carry out independent and original research in your chosen field.

Type of qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Level of study

Postgraduate study

Once you’ve graduated with a bachelor’s degree – or have equal experience – you can study at the postgraduate level. Doctoral qualifications require additional entry requirements.

More about study levels

NZQF level 10

Our courses follow the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) levels.

Find out more about NZQF levels

Time to complete

3 years full-time (360 credits)
Up to 6 years part-time
Part-time available

Where you can study

Auckland campus
Wellington campus
Manawatū campus (Palmerston North)

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Open to international students on campus in New Zealand

Study a Doctor of Philosophy – PhD

To do a PhD you need to have a passion and commitment for your discipline.

The degree is awarded for a thesis that demonstrates your ability to carry out independent and original research. It also needs to provide a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of a field of study.

Opportunities for research and career development

Developing effective communication skills are prioritised at Massey. We support you with research communications events such as the 3MT (Three-Minute Thesis) competition. 

We also place great importance on personal effectiveness. We offer you the opportunity to do the Strengths@Massey programme. This supports the building of good relationships with supervisors and peers and informs effective ways of achieving research outputs.

We also provide opportunities for intensive writing through our three-day thesis writing boot camps. You are provided with the support and infrastructure that allows you to dedicate your time to writing without any distractions

Research training

You will have access to a whole suite of workshops through support services such as the library, the Centre for Teaching & Learning, Career Hub and the Graduate Research School. These include:

  • highly tailored writing sessions
  • training on using databases and data management
  • project management
  • understanding research funding
  • applying for a grant through to intercultural communications
  • entrepreneurship and innovation.

You can find more information on our prospective doctoral students pages.

A PhD is a good fit if you:

  • want a research career in industry or academia
  • have a passion for your subject
  • wish to become an expert in your field.

Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Specific requirements

To enter the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme you will:

  • have completed a postgraduate bachelor's (honours) or master's degree with First Class Honours or Second Class Honours (Division I) B+ equivalent, or equivalent qualification
  • have sufficient independent research experience to satisfy the Doctoral Research Committee that you have the capacity to successfully undertake the programme.

Massey University’s Doctoral Research Committee administers the PhD. Registration must be supported by the relevant Head of School/Centre who will agree to provide supervision and facilities for your research.

Please note that there are more applicants than places on the programme. If you meet the above conditions you will also go through a selection process including an interview. If successful in this process, you will be offered a place.

English language requirements:

Academic IELTS score of 6.5 with no band less than 6.0* - this must be achieved in one sitting; or a minimum TOEFL iBT of 90 overall (minimum of 20 in writing). These tests are valid for two years.

*Note: The Institute of Education requires an overall score of 6.5, with a minimum of 7 in Reading and Writing and a minimum of 6 in Listening and Speaking.

International qualifications

International qualifications will be assessed in terms of their broad equivalence to a Massey honours or master’s degree with Grade Point Equivalency. Typically this should be 75% or B+. Admissions with Equivalent Status will be used to assess the quality and ranking of the overseas institution.

A qualifying degree, like domestic qualifications, must include a supervised research component such as a substantial thesis or dissertation and previous research methods study is recommended.

Academic references

You must supply good academic references. The referees should know you in an academic capacity. At least one should be a supervisor for the research component of your most recent qualification (honours/masters). Contact them before you submit your application. Follow up to make sure they have received the request. We do not accept personal friends or relatives as referees.

Documents you need to provide

Following the admission screening stage, we may request verified copies of the following documents:

  • transcripts for all tertiary qualifications, master's, bachelor's etc, even if these are incomplete
  • grading legends for all tertiary qualifications
  • all graduation certificates, unless completion is noted on the transcripts
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • references to any publications you have
  • English language test results (if you are from a country where English is not the first language)
  • evidence of your citizenship.

Please make sure you have all of these ready before applying as it will speed up the application process.

Maximum time limits for completion

There are maximum time limits for this qualification. If you do not complete within the maximum time, you may be required to re-apply for the qualification if you wish to continue your studies.

More information

  • Read the regulations for this programme thoroughly
  • Contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Official regulations

Review this important information before you apply for this programme. This gives you full details of the rules and regulations about what you need to study and what you must achieve in order to graduate with this qualification. That includes structure, courses and requirements.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Structure of the Doctor of Philosophy

If you are interested in a PhD at Massey, you should consult with the postgraduate coordinator for the specific subject area you are interested in.

International students are required to have appropriate insurance cover. Massey has a default cover, StudentSafe, which is the preferred insurance provider.

If you have any questions, contact us through the Get advice button on this page.

Courses and specialisations

Key terms

Each qualification has its own specific set of courses. Some universities call these papers. You enrol in courses after you get accepted into Massey.
Course code
Each course is numbered using 6 digits. The fourth number shows the level of the course. For example, in course 219206, the fourth number is a 2, so it is a 200-level course (usually studied in the second year of full-time study).
Each course is worth a number of credits. You combine courses (credits) to meet the total number of credits needed for your qualification.
Some qualifications let you choose what subject you'd like to specialise in. Your major or endorsement is what you will take the majority of your courses in.

Credit summary

360 credits

  • Thesis

Requirements include the completion of a thesis which includes a provisional year. This means your progress will be assessed after 9-12 months (full-time) or 12-16 months (part-time) before you are fully registered as a PhD candidate.

You will be required to report on your progress every six months.

The final examination process includes the submission of a written document (thesis) and an oral defence. If you are in the Creative Arts, the examination may include an exhibition/installation/performance, with an exegesis, and oral defence.

Course planning key

Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Fees and scholarships

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

Doctoral fees

You can start your PhD study at anytime throughout the academic year.

Normally you will pay full tuition fees from the start of each calendar year, with the exception of the first and final year of your study, which may be a partial year, depending on your start date.

Fees are not charged once you submit your thesis for examination.

The New Zealand government provides all international PhD students with a government subsidized scholarship which allows international students to pay tuition at the domestic fee rate. As part of the Immigration New Zealand student visa requirement, you will need to pay your full first year tuition fee at the time of accepting your Offer of Place and before you can enrol.

Scholarship and award opportunities

Find more scholarships and awards

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

What our students say

“It has been a life-changing experience for me.”
Carole Fernandez

Doctor of Philosophy

“Massey University provides an excellent platform for international students.”
Akisi N Ravono

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

“I chose Massey University due its known leadership in the area of food and nutrition.”
Bolaji Lilian Ilesanmi-Oyelere

Doctor of Philosophy

Related study options