Application process

The steps and information needed to prepare your application. This process has changed recently, so please take careful note.

At the University of Waikato, you can apply at any time of the year to study towards:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Health Science (DHSc)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
  • Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD), and
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the University of Waikato's highest research degree. It offers the opportunity to explore a specific research area or topic that you are passionate about, while giving you advanced skills in research, problem solving and writing.

Completing a PhD will open up exciting new employment opportunities, not just in academia, but in government, consulting, research institutes, community organisations and much more.

To earn the PhD degree or other higher degree, you will undertake a research project under the guidance of at least two supervisors, produce a thesis and complete an oral examination. Your work will need to be significant and original, and make a meaningful contribution to your field of study.

Our Higher Research Degrees may have different or additional requirements. You can find the degree regulations by visiting the University of Waikato Calendar and searching the qualification/s you are interested in.

How to apply for a PhD or Higher Research Degree

  • Check your eligibility to apply for your chosen degree
  • Visit the Staff Profiles page to find and contact a potential University of Waikato supervisor, or
  • Visit the PhD Opportunities page to find a project or research topic in your area of research interest
  • Receive an Invitation to Apply from a potential University of Waikato supervisor
  • Prepare your application documents
  • Complete an Application to Enrol
  • Identify at least one University of Waikato Supervisor who has agreed to supervise you
  • Provide the contact details of two Academic Referees who are willing to be contacted by your University of Waikato supervisor
  • Indicate whether you would like to be considered for a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship

Step 1: Check your eligibility

To be eligible for PhD or Higher Degree study you must have completed a Bachelor with Honours or a Masters degree, which has a significant research component. A research component must be a thesis, dissertation, or research project which makes up at least 25% of one year’s study of your entry qualification. Research methods papers are not counted as a research component.

Masters degrees that do not meet the research component requirements are not qualifying degrees for entry into Higher Research Degree study.

You must also have achieved a minimum of Second Class, First Division, in your qualifying degree.

If you are an International Student, you will need to meet our English language requirements.

Step 2: Find and connect with a research supervisor or project

You will need to find a research supervisor who works in your area of interest before you apply. This supervisor will support, guide and mentor you through your research.

To view potential research supervisors, please visit the University of Waikato's Staff Profiles.

You can filter you search by:

  • Research interests
  • Publications
  • Prior students supervised
  • Availability to supervise
  • Current research projects

Once you have found a suitable supervisor, you will need to email them to discuss your research and how it aligns with their current projects and interests. You will need agreement from at least one University of Waikato supervisor and an Invitation to Apply to proceed further.

Please note, although you may have an agreement from a potential supervisor, your formal application and admission to the PhD or Higher Research Degree programme will require final approval from the University of Waikato Postgraduate Research Committee.

University of Waikato's Staff Profiles

You can look for an established project or research area using the University of Waikato Doctoral Opportunities page. Use the filters to look by supervisor, project and topic — new vacancies are added regularly.

Supervisors of established projects will have their own requirements for you to follow as part of their short-listing/screening processes. Please ensure that you clearly indicate the vacancy that you are applying for in your email and that you provide all the information requested.

PhD Opportunities

Step 3: Receive an Invitation to Apply

After a University of Waikato Supervisor has formally agreed to supervise your PhD or Higher Research Degree, they will send you an email with an Invitation to Apply.

Once you have received your Invitation to Apply, you can move on to preparing and submitting your application for your chosen programme. You will be asked to supply evidence of your Invitation to Apply in your application.

If you do not have an Invitation to Apply, your application will not be considered.

Step 4: Prepare your application documents

Use our application checklist to ensure that you have all the documents and information you need to complete your Application to Enrol.

We cannot progress your application without all the required documents, so please take the time to make sure you have provided everything requested.

Download the PhD and Higher Research Degree Application Checklist.

Step 5: Submit your Application to Enrol

Now you have everything you need, you are ready to submit your application using our MyWaikato Application Portal.

You will be guided through the application process to upload your documents, provide evidence of your Invitation to Apply from your supervisor, supply the contact details of your two referees and indicate whether you would like to be considered for a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship.

Apply now

Step 6: Indicate whether you would like to be considered for a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship

Applications for doctoral scholarships are considered four times each year. These scholarships include:

If you have indicated in your application for PhD or Higher Research Degree study that you would like to be considered for a scholarship, your application will be considered in the next scholarship round.

You do not need to complete a separate application or do anything further. In most cases, the date of your application to enrol will determine which round you are considered for a scholarship.

However, to be considered for a scholarship, students must receive an Offer of Place in the doctoral programme prior to the scholarship selection meeting.

  Round One Round Two Round Three Round Four
Student applies to enrol in Doctoral Programme November February May August
December March June September
January April July October
Scholarship Offers March June September November


Applications go through a competitive, strategic and merit-based selection process, and you will be advised of the scholarship outcome through the MyWaikato portal and by email. It will take up to eight weeks after receiving an Offer of Place in the doctoral programme to hear the outcome of your scholarship.

You can find answers to frequently asked questions, as well as more information about University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarships, funded research projects, and other externally funded scholarships by visiting the Scholarships Finder.

Step 7: What happens once I have submitted my Application to Enrol?

Your application will be reviewed by the relevant School/Faculty once we have received all the documentation requested. We will contact you via email if we have any questions or need anything further from you, please keep an eye on your inbox.

Applications are considered monthly from February to November each year. Depending on when you submit your application, it may be held over to the next month for consideration.

The School of Graduate Research will let you know when to expect the outcome of your application.

Have a question?

To find out more about an area of research visit the Faculty/School websites or contact us with any questions.

University of Waikato School of Graduate Research