Doctoral examination process

A step-by-step outline of the examination process for PhD and named doctorate candidates.

The examination process can be a time of great stress. This page aims to relieve that stress by giving you, as a doctoral candidate, an idea of what to expect.

This overview assumes that candidates are using Wahapū to administer their examination. Candidates must be on the new PhD Statute to use Wahapū and will benefit from a faster, more streamlined examination process that is easily managed and tracked online.

Move to Wahapū

To move to the new PhD Statute and use Wahapū for your examination, you must complete the PhD Statute Consent Form.

If you wish to move to Wahapū, you must do so before your examination process begins.

Examination process overview

A successful examination usually follows the following basic steps:

  • Intention to submit notification
  • Initial thesis submission
  • Thesis examination
  • Oral examination
  • Outcome and final submission

The Doctor or Fine Arts examination process is a little different: the oral examination takes place before the thesis examination and at the same time as the performance or exhibition. Find out more by reading the regulations at Doctor of Fine Art Examination Procedures.

Timeline and updates

The examination process runs from initial submission to final submission. The process generally takes up to 6 months, though it may be longer in some cases. Your examination will be managed by a dedicated Examinations team at the School of Graduate Studies.

Candidates on Wahapū will receive regular automatic updates at key stages of the process, and will be able to log into the system at any time to check the progress of the examination.

Important documents

It's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the following important documents (or the appropriate documentation for your programme of study/Statute) before the examination process begins:

Stage one: Intention to submit

Preparations for your examination begin when you notify the School of Graduate that you are preparing to submit your thesis via an Intention to Submit. This nudges your supervisors to begin the process of appointing your examiners. It must be done at least three months in advance of your proposed submission date to ensure that your examiners are in place before you submit your thesis.

If your examiners are not in place, there will be a delay to your examination process.

Find out more at Intention to submit doctoral thesis.

Stage two: Initial thesis submission

Once your thesis is fully up-to-date and you have prepared the required forms and/or additional material, you can make your initial submission online via Wahapū (or in person if completing the process manually).

Your enrolment at the University ends when you make your initial submission, but you will continue to have access to the library and the University's IT services.

International candidates who plan to stay in New Zealand after they have submitted their thesis are eligible to apply for a Post Study Work Visa. Learn more at Post Study Work Visas for international doctoral candidates.

Stage three: Thesis examination

Once the School of Graduate Studies has accepted your thesis it will be made available to your examiners if they are in place. If they are not in place, the examiner nomination and approval process may cause a delay to your examination.

The timeline for returning the examiner reports is 6 weeks, but it is common for thesis examinations to take longer than this. All examiners are followed up regularly until the reports are submitted.

Stage four: Thesis examination recommendation

You will be informed via email once your thesis examination recommendation has been confirmed.

Possible recommendations are:

  • Proceed to oral (with or without revisions)
  • Minor corrections or resubmission of the Portfolio of Clinical Research (DClinPsy only)
  • Revise and resubmit
  • Award another degree
  • No award

Stage five: Oral examination

When the School of Graduate Studies approves a ‘Proceed to oral’ recommendation, the Examinations team will begin organising your oral exam. You will be asked to provide your oral examination preferences, such as dates and invitees. Once you have done this, you will be able to access the examiner reports via your Wahapū Examination record.

Once your exam has been organised, you will receive an email notification with all the details. 

For more information about the oral examination, please see the Doctoral Oral Examination Procedures.

Stage six: Outcome advised

The School of Graduate Studies will advise you of the official outcome of your oral examination by email once it is approved. Any prior indication of the outcome is not official until approved by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate).

The possible outcomes are:

  • Award
  • Revisions
  • Minor corrections or resubmission of the Portfolio of Clinical Research (DClinPsy only)
  • Revise and resubmit
  • Award another degree
  • No award

Stage seven: Final submission

You can make your final submission only once you have been directed to do so by the School of Graduate Studies.

Final submission occurs after you have:

  • Completed your oral examination; and
  • Received an email from the School of Graduate Studies informing you of the result of your degree and directing you to make your final submission; and
  • Satisfactorily completed any required corrections or revisions to your thesis (if relevant)

Read more about the requirements for your final thesis submission on AskAuckland, here: Final thesis submission.

Other outcomes


A Revisions outcome means that your thesis will meet the required standard once the specified minor changes have been made. A list of revisions required may be provided by a member of the examination committee (usually the AH Nominee). You will not be re enrolled but will be given a time limit in which you are required to complete the revisions.

Revise and resubmit

A Revise and resubmit outcome means that your work is not yet at the required standard for your degree, but that the Examiners and/or Examination Committee believe that you will reach the required standard with a little more time. You will meet with members of your Examination Committee to discuss the required revisions and will be provided with a report to guide you.

You will be re-enrolled in your programme for the requisite number of months and will be liable for all fees for this period.

When you come to resubmit your thesis, you must create a new examination record in Wahapū. The process starts at the Initial thesis submission stage.

Award another degree

This outcome means that your work does not meet the standard required for your programme, but instead makes you eligible for an alternative award.

You will be offered the opportunity to graduate and be awarded the specified degree. This will be organised within your faculty or LSRI.

No award

This outcome means that your work does not meet the standard required for an award. You will not be offered the opportunity to graduate and will be awarded no degree.