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

  • Level

  • Doctorate, NZQF Level 10
  • Campus

  • Auckland, Manawatū, Wellington
  • Credits

  • 360
  • Duration

  • 3 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
  • International

  • Open to international students on campus in New Zealand

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.

International students

International students must accept the Offer of Place and then pay your fees. You will receive a receipt of payment from the Massey University Graduate Research School which you can use to apply for a visa. Once your visa has been approved, you will be able to come to Massey and enrol. 

Your offer will have an expiry date by which time you must be on campus and ready to enrol.

If your highest qualification is from an overseas institution you will be required to pay an Admission with Equivalent Status (AES) overseas qualifications fee of NZD$137.00 before your application for admission will be considered. This fee will be refunded to you upon enrolment in the programme.

Entry requirements

University admission

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

Programme admission


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. The Institute of Education requires a higher score.

Other requirements

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. You will need to supply the original documents when you arrive.

Courses and planning

Credit summary

360 credits

  • Thesis

Requires completion of Part One Provisional Registration and Part Two Full Registration including a thesis.

Participate in required activities including presentation of a proposal, and defending a thesis in an oral examination on the thesis and the subject area.

This is a parts-based qualification. This means there are regulations around your completion of Part One before progressing to Part Two, etc.

Planning your programme

Planning overview

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 Enquire button on this page.

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 programme if you wish to continue your studies.

More information

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

Fees and scholarships

Fees and finance

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.

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.

Meet our students

Key information for students

Compare qualifications and academic information across different New Zealand institutions.


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.

Regulations for this programme

Applying and enrolling

Applying for the programme

Massey’s Graduate Research School administers doctoral degrees at Massey. They will complete an eligibility assessment based on all documents and qualifications submitted. If you meet the basic entry requirements an academic assessment will be carried out in the academic unit you are applying to. 

You can find out more about the application process on their pages.

You will apply for the programme using the Apply now button on this page. You will be able to submit any required documents as part of this application process.

Receive and accept an Admission Offer of Place

You will receive an Admission Offer of Place when you have been accepted into the programme. You need to accept this before you can start the enrolment stage. International students also need to pay their fees at this point.

Please allow four to six weeks for this process. Please note that significant delays will occur if you don't provide all necessary documents.

We look forward to welcoming you to Massey!

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

What are courses and credits?

What are courses and credits?

Each Massey programme is made up of courses (in some tertiary institutions they are called ‘papers’).

You will have some compulsory courses and some you can choose from.

Each course is worth a certain amount of credits (often 15 credits, but this does vary). You must gain a set number of credits to be able to graduate from this programme.

There may also be some rules about which courses you need to pass to progress to the next year, or stage, of your study (known as progression). There are also courses you must pass to graduate with a specialisation.

  • See the ‘Courses for this programme’ section for the list of courses.
  • Courses search

Understanding course numbers

The first three digits of our course numbers show you which subject the course is about.

The second three digits show you the level and course ID number. For instance:

  • sub-degree courses are '0' (i.e. xxx.0xx)
  • undergraduate study begins at 100-level, (i.e. xxx.1xx)
  • as you progress through 200- and 300-level courses this number changes to 2 and 3 respectively. The higher the number that starts the second three digits, the higher the level of study.
1 6 2 . 3   0 1
Subject area   Level   Course ID number

Workload and time management

Use this tool to help determine how much time you will need each week to complete your studies.

Estimate workload

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 programme 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 programmes go to the Massey University Calendar.

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

Scholarships and awards

Scholarships related to this programme

There are a number of scholarships available for new and current students. They could relate to your situation, achievement or interest.

Find and apply for scholarships