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PhD studies in New Zealand


Unless you hold citizenship or permanent residency of New Zealand you will be classed as an international student when undertaking any level of study there, including doctoral study. However, if you study your PhD course full time in New Zealand, you are eligable to pay your tuition fee as domestic student (see additional benefits below).

StudyNewZealand EU can help you contact the university or universities that you are interested in studying at with a draft research proposal, so that the university can see whether your intended research project is something that they have the resources for and are interested in supervising. Depending on your area of interest, this may lead to an academic inviting you to join a research group or project that is already ongoing, but most PhDs in New Zealand are approved and undertaken as individual projects.

A student must gain provisional approval or an expression of interest from a Faculty or individual academic before they can submit a formal application for admission through StudyNewZealand EU.  Unsolicited or speculative PhD applications to New Zealand universities are usually rejected.

Establishing contact with a potential supervisor which we have identified through our contacts at the internaional offices of the New Zealand universities and getting provisional approval for your intended research proposal means identifying the academics that are working in the area that you intend to work in and making direct contact with the relevant individuals. When you approach academic members of staff, after we have introduced you, it’s important that you communicate your research intent in a concise, well thought-through manner - academic staff will receive a lot of similar requests and are only likely to respond positively to the ones that demonstrate commitment and ability.

What entry qualifications will I need?
New Zealand universities require PhD applicants to hold the equivalent of a New Zealand Honours degree in order to apply for PhD study. Please note that in New Zealand ‘Honours’ is not a class of mark as it is in the UK, but rather a fourth year of study, undertaken after successful completion of a Bachelors degree, and done largely by research. While it may be possible for a student to apply for a New Zealand PhD straight after doing a three-year undergraduate degree, it is unusual – the candidate would have to have excellent marks, be looking to undertake a PhD in a field directly related to their undergraduate degree, and have a considerable amount of research experience within their field. Most successful applicants have done a four-year undergraduate degree, or a Bachelors and a Masters qualification.

Benefits for international PhD students to New Zealand

  • Dependent children of international PhD students receive the same schooling benefits (or educational benefits) as New Zealand permanent residents until their final year of high school. They pay no tuition fees except for a small yearly donation
  • Upon graduation, international students are eligible for a twelve-month open work permit
  • The spouse/partner of an international PhD student is eligible for an open work permit valid for the duration of the spouse's/partner's course of study
  • International PhD students are eligible to work part time for 20 hours per week for the duration of the course of study

For changes and updates of the above benefits please visit the Immigration New Zealand web site  or e-mail StudyNewZealand EU <- click for email

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the Auckland University of Technology (Auckland)
PhD fee at AUT:   NZ$ 6,178 per year (2015 price) only if 100% conducted in NZ
PhD fee at AUT:   NZ$ 31,000 per year (2015 price) if not 100% conducted in NZ
Duration:            3 years

Doctoral Studies (Doctor of Philosophy - PhD) Studies may be in the following areas: Applied Humanities, Business and Law, Design and Creative Technologies, Health and Environmental Sciences and Te Ara Poutama. International PhD candidates who conduct the majority of their studies in NZ will be eligible for New Zealand tuition fees (approx NZ$ 6,178). Otherwise the fee is NZ$ 31,000 Wives/husbands of PhD student’s who conduct the majority of their studies in NZ are eligible for work permits and dependent children are eligible for NZ schooling at primary or secondary level

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Lincoln University (Lincoln)
PhD fee at Lincoln:    NZ$ 6.205 (2014 price) per year
Duration:                 3 years

PhD students are important members of the research community and are key to research groups and centres at Lincoln. A typical Lincoln PhD comprises three years' of research. Students can choose some course work if they wish. All students have at least one main supervisor and one associate supervisor. You would normally require a research-based master's or honours degree to gain admission to the PhD programme. To apply for a Doctorate (PhD) at Lincoln University you need an appropriate/relevant honours degree with second class honours, division one or its equivalent and meet our English language requirement. This is your application checklist:

  1. Birth certificate or passport, certified copies only and a Curriculum vitae
  2. Academic transcripts, official copies or certified copies of all tertiary qualifications either complete or partially completed
  3. Statement of research interest and the name and email address of two referees
  4. Research abstract

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Massey University (Palmerston North)
PhD fee at Massey:    NZ$ 5,929 - NZ$ 7,321 (2015 price) per year
Duration:                  3 years

Eligibility for admission into a PhD at Massey University is a minimum of a Bachelor’s plus Master’s degree or a Bachelor with Honours equivalent to four years of study and attainment at First Class or 2:1 level. Academic Board may require that applicants have sufficient experience of individual research to benefit from the course of study. Academic IELTS 6.5 (no band score less than 6.0), or, TOEFL (C) 232, ER 4.0; iBT 19 (Writing minimum 20). Some Colleges may specify a higher level of attainment. Documentation required:

  1. A completed international application form
  2. Verified copies (translated where necessary ) of all academic transcripts and graduation certificates
  3. A research proposal of approximately 1,000 words
  4. Verified copy of the applicant’s passport or birth certificate (birth certificates should be translated where necessary)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of Auckland (Auckland)
PhD fee at Auckland:    NZ$ 6,253 (2014 price) per year
Duration:                    3 years

The University of Auckland offers a wide range of student benefits as well as extremely affordable tuition fee for its international PhD students. If you want to apply for a doctoral study at Auckland, you have to decide upon, and clarify as much as possible, your area of research interest or potential research topic. Then you have to fill in an Expression of Interest (EOI). You will need to provide details about your educational background, achievements and research interests. Secondly you need to have the following documents ready:

  1. Transcripts for your highest tertiary qualification and your Statement of Research Intent.
  2. If you are new to the University: two Doctoral Referee Reports*
  3. If English is not your first language: your IELTS, TOEFL and TWE test scores if you have sat such tests within the last two years.
  4. Your CV or resumé (Some programmes may also require a portfolio)

*Preferably, the letters should be from academic staff of your home university, who can comment on your research capability and experience.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch)
PhD fee at Canterbury:   NZ$ 5,636 (2014 price) per year
Duration:                      3 years

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of Canterbury involves extensive, sustained and original research and study in a specialised area, with the result presented as a thesis. A PhD normally requires at least three years of fulltime, independent study, and the work will contribute to intellectual knowledge in the researched field. Candidates must have the equivalent of a research focussed Masters or Honours degree with first class honours.

For most academic departments at Canterbury, identifying an appropriate project and contacting a potential supervisor is the first step for a PhD enquiry. The next step is to apply for admission, using the appropriate forms and sending in supporting documents. At minimal the following documents need to be submitted:
1.    An outline of the area of research or publications;
2.    Details of previous research or publications

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Otago University (Dunedin)
PhD fee at Otago:    NZ$ 5,911 - NZ$ 8,754 (2015 price) per year
Duration:                3 years

As New Zealand’s leading university for research quality Otago offers postgraduate students a wealth of research opportunities across all disciplines. The University of Otago is home to many established pre-eminent research programmes while other areas are emerging as internationally recognised centres of research excellence. There is considerable independent and co-operative research undertaken by academic departments at the University of Otago.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Victoria University of Wellington (Wellington)
PhD fee at Victoria:    NZ$ 6,676 – NZ$ 7,725 (2015 price) per year
Duration:                  3 years

Victoria University has an international reputation for academic excellence and high quality research. One of New Zealand’s most significant research institutions, the University spends a substantial proportion of its total budget on research. Victoria has scholars of national and international repute working in a diverse range of disciplines. The following form an essential part of your application:

  1. an Expression of Research Interests plus a 2000-word sample of your academic writing in English
  2. two completed Academic Referees - Confidential Report forms.
  3. copies of your academic transcript/s and degree certificates and a copy of your Diploma Supplement (applicants from EU countries only); translations in English of official documents (certified by an accredited translator)
  4. proof of identity and citizenship.
  5. evidence of English language proficiency