Doctoral studies

Information about the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) programmes

Pursuing doctoral studies is a big decision for you, your whānau and your career – and finding a programme that works for you and your situation is important. This page is designed to help you think about the options.  Here are some common questions about our programmes:

Why should I pursue doctoral studies?

Pursuing doctoral studies will enable you to have expert knowledge in your chosen field and the highest level of degree achievable at the University. Doctoral studies can also:

  • Broaden your career opportunities or career advancement
  • Help you undertake rigorous research with the guidance of world-class researchers
  • Extend your critical thinking, problem-solving and analysis of research in your area
  • Foster your confidence to lead and advocate for change in healthcare
  • Develop a research platform
  • Foster national and international collaborations and networking within your area of research

What doctoral degrees can I enrol in?

‘Doctorate’ is an umbrella term and includes a range of degrees in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences – for example, PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and DHSc (Doctor of Health Science).

All doctorates represent the pinnacle of academic excellence. You will be called a doctor when you earn any of these degrees, as this title indicates you are an expert in your given area.

Doctorates have two major pathways. The main difference is that a PhD has a strong research focus, whereas the DHSc is more focused on the application of theory, research and leadership in a professional setting.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD programme is a globally recognised postgraduate research degree and suited for candidates seeking a strong research focus.

The PhD programme will give you the opportunity to:

  • Expand and develop your personal, professional and academic skills.
  • Present your work at local and international conferences
  • Network and collaborate with experts within your research field

This is a three to four-year full-time advanced research degree during which you will work on your research before submitting your thesis for examination. Part-time enrolment is available for New Zealand students.

All of the doctoral policies and guidelines governing PhD study, including the PhD statute, are available here.

For more information about the PhD programme see here.

Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc)

The DHSc programme is designed for health professionals and senior leaders in healthcare in Aotearoa New Zealand who want to continue working while they study.

The DHSC programme will give you the opportunity to:

  • Expand and develop your leadership, professional and academic skills within the context of your current role
  • Work alongside a cohort of other DHSc students and network with others working as health leaders to develop new ideas and practices
  • Provide leadership within healthcare, both nationally and internationally

This qualification will suit applicants such as:

  1. Senior health professionals in District Health Boards and other large health care providers including nurses and allied health staff in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy, dietetics, audiology, optometry, imaging and pharmacy
  2. Pacific and Māori senior health professionals, health leaders and academics
  3. Senior health leaders with significant experience in the health sector

This part-time programme provides a combination of taught courses (120 points) and a thesis (240 point) which will develop candidates’ professional understanding and expertise in leadership, research, implementation, evaluation, and professional practice.

Students will address contemporary issues challenging the health sector, influencing local, national and potentially international health policy and practice. This programme is part-time to support ongoing leadership and clinical work.

For more information about the DHSc programme see here.

Am I eligible to enrol in these doctoral degrees?

Admissions will be limited to applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree with honours (equivalent to four years of study), or a master’s degree in a relevant area with a GPA of 6.0 or greater. All applicants must have demonstrated the ability to undertake doctoral-level research through their previous completion of a significant research project, dissertation or thesis.

Where necessary, applicants may enter an approved bridging programme to facilitate entry onto the programme. This may include a research project and a research paper and will be at the discretion of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

The programmes are open to both domestic and international students, however, part-time study for the DHSc may exclude international students due to visa requirements.

What does the University of Auckland have to offer?

The University of Auckland will give you access to world-class facilities to support your learning experience.

Our supervisors are renowned for their expertise and can provide invaluable guidance and knowledge in your doctoral journey. Your doctoral study will allow you the option of being supervised by both a content expert and a methodology expert in your chosen area of study, or by a supervisor whom you respect as a researcher.

We have a range of support mechanisms to ensure your doctoral journey is enjoyable and successful. We have regular opportunities for peer support, supervision meetings and pastoral care.

What funding options are there to undertake doctoral research?

The cost of a doctoral degree can be found here.

We recommend pursuing grants/scholarships to help cover study costs. There are a number of different options for health professionals considering a doctoral degree, including university scholarships, DHB funding sources, nursing and midwifery-specific funds, disease-specific scholarships, research programme-specific funding, Māori-specific scholarships, Pacific-specific scholarships, and other various scholarships.

Key contacts

For more information, please contact:

Associate Professor Rachael Parke
Associate Head Postgraduate Research, School of Nursing
Phone: +64 9 923 4263

Associate Professor Terryann Clark
Director, Doctor of Health Science (DHSc)
Phone: 021 294 8354