Introduction to doctoral study at Creative Arts and Industries

The University's home for creative research.

We offer a range of internationally recognised degrees for students who intend to pursue an academic or research career. You can choose to write a traditional thesis, or combine theory with practice as part of your studies. As a doctoral candidate, you join a creative scholarly community with meeting opportunities to encourage networking, support and idea-sharing.

You are invited to make contact with the Student Hubs or relevant Postgraduate Advisers at any stage for more information.

Our schools and programmes

For detailed information on doctoral study in your area of interest, please visit our specific school doctoral pages. Here you will learn about types of programmes on offer and the available doctoral supervisors, and find the contact details for each discipline’s Postgraduate Adviser.

Types of doctoral study

Before you submit your Application for Admission (AfA), it is important to consider which doctoral programme is best suited to you and your research. Your research can be a written thesis, or a combination of written work and a creative output. Our faculty offers Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees across each of our disciplines and a Doctor of Fine Arts (DocFA).

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Available in:

  • Architecture
  • Dance studies
  • Design 
  • Fine arts
  • Heritage conservation
  • Music
  • Urban design
  • Urban planning

The PhD thesis is a formal and sustained exposition of a piece of advanced research work, generally carried out over a period of three to four years of full-time study, resulting in an examined thesis of up to 100,000 words. It is also possible to complete part-time.

As a PhD student, you will have the opportunity to make an original contribution to knowledge in a specific field and are required to meet internationally recognised standards for such work.

All PhD students must be approved by the relevant department and faculty as well as the School of Graduate Studies. This is to determine your suitability for doctoral study by assessing your current level of training or experience in your selected field. For more information about the structure of PhD study, visit the Doctor of Philosophy programme.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - including Scholarly Creative Work

Available in:

  • Architecture
  • Dance studies
  • Design
  • Fine arts
  • Music
  • Urban design
  • Urban planning

This form of the PhD recognises a creative arts or design output as a contribution towards advancing knowledge in a particular field. Candidates can present exhibitions, design work or performances as examinable work towards their qualifications. The component shares the same regulations as the University of Auckland PhD, with some guidelines specific to admission requirements and the timing of the examination of the creative work. If you are intending to undertake a PhD including Scholarly Creative Work, you must outline this at the application stage.

To read more about the regulations and hear the experience of a previous student, visit PhD including Scholarly Creative Work.

Doctor of Fine Arts

Our faculty offers a named doctorate for artists as a chance to present work(s) as the main examinable component of the degree. Find out more about the Doctor of Fine Arts (DocFA).

Common questions

How long will the application process take?

The time taken to prepare, submit and process the Application for Admission intent can vary. We recommend you start early and contact the Postgraduate Adviser in the relevant School/Department to get the administrative process underway. Details can be refined at a later date.

Also, while you can submit your application and start at any time of the year, doctoral candidates officially commence their research on the first day of the month, following consultation with the relevant School/Department and supervisors.

How do I develop my Statement of Research Intent?

Your statement should succinctly outline your intended topic and explain what you hope to achieve during your studies at the University. It is recommended that you draft your Statement of Research Intent early. This can even be done prior to contacting a Postgraduate Adviser, as the information can assist in selecting the most suitable available supervisor(s). The statement can always be refined at a later date, and the School or Department may require you to revise your statement on more than one occasion.

How do I choose a supervisor?

Over the next three years or more, you will develop a strong collegial relationship with your supervisor, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with the guidance and support you and your research will gain from their input. Some Schools or Departments advise you to approach the academics who closely align with your research interests, but others do not require you to have identified a supervisor before applying.

For detailed information on the policies and procedures for doctoral supervision, see Supervision policies and guidelines.

What financial assistance is available during my studies?

There are a variety of scholarships on offer across the University, some specific to doctoral studies, such as the University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship. You can browse by type of scholarship or search for available scholarships and awards by visiting Find a scholarship or awards.

Doctoral students also receive support from the University’s PReSS (Postgraduate Research Student Support) fund. This fund can be used to cover direct research costs, conferences and materials that can’t be covered by other research grants.

What other support is available for doctoral candidates?

The Critical Edge to Doctoral Research programme was developed to support doctoral candidates and supervisors across the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries. Through a series of workshops, symposia and writing retreats, our researchers come together in a relaxed environment, offering networking and stimulating discussions across our cross-disciplinary research community.

For study support, the University provides an evolving range of services and resources to support the development of our doctoral candidates. We help you refine your skills, boost your research and increase your employability by providing a host of useful resources and unique development opportunities. Have a look at the Doctoral opportunities page for more information.

Can I study off-campus?

Yes, but only if certain requirements are met. Detailed information is provided in this document:

As an international student, is there anything else I need to know?

Generally, your visa conditions will state that you must be enrolled in full time study. If you are planning on undertaking the DocFA you must understand that the domestic fees scheme and off-campus study concessions apply only to the standard PhD programme and not the named doctorates.

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Contact us

You are welcome to contact the Student Hubs for more information about doctoral study.

Student Hubs


Learn more about the Student Hubs.