Doctoral examinations

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

The examination process can be a stressful time for doctoral candidates. This page aims to relieve some of that stress by giving you, as a doctoral candidate, an idea of what to expect. Generally speaking, the examination process follows the step-by-step outline described below, although it may differ in some cases.

Timeline and updates

The examination process starts upon initial submission of your doctoral thesis and generally takes up to 6 months, though it may be longer in some cases. The process is managed by a dedicated Examinations team at the School of Graduate Studies. Starting eight weeks after your initial submission, the team will send you fortnightly updates on the progress of your examination.

Preparation: Intention to submit

Before your examination process begins, you must let the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) know that you are preparing to submit your thesis. You should notify SGS by email three months in advance of your planned submission date. They will provide you with important information about, and encourage you to book an appointment for, your initial thesis submission.

Contact the School of Graduate Studies at

Stage one: Initial thesis submission

You attend your appointment in person and submit the initial copy of your thesis. To find out how to prepare your thesis for this appointment, check out AskAuckland: Initial thesis submission.

Your enrolment at the University ends when you make your initial submission. If you are an international candidate, please read this information about applying for enrolment for doctoral examination.

Stage two: Examiner appointment

If your department has nominated your examiners, the Examinations team can appoint them. If not, the team will follow up with your department – this will delay your examination process.

Stage three: Thesis assessment

Once your examiners are appointed, the Examinations team will send out your thesis. The deadline for returning the written report is 8 weeks, but many examiners exceed that deadline. The examinations team follow this up regularly on your behalf until all reports are submitted.

Stage four: Examination Committee recommendation

Once both reports have been received, the Examinations team send them first to your supervisor for comments, and then to the Examination Committee for their consideration and recommendation. This can take several weeks.

The possible recommendations are:

  • Proceed to oral (Most candidates)
  • Revise and resubmit
  • Award MPhil
  • Fail
Once the Board of Graduate Studies gives permission for you to proceed to oral, the Examinations team will begin organising your examination.

Stage five: Oral examination

The Examinations team will coordinate with you, your examiners, supervisors and any other attendees to organise your examination, and will inform you of the date at least five days in advance.

Once you have completed your oral examination, your examiner may give you an indication of what their recommendation may be. Please note that this is not official until approved by the Board of Graduate Studies.

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.

The possible outcomes are:

  • Award
  • Minor corrections
  • Revisions
  • Revise and resubmit
  • Consideration of alternative award
  • No award

The School of Graduate Studies will advise you on how to progress according to the outcome of your examination.

Stage seven: Final submission

You may not make your final submission until directed to do so by the School of Graduate Studies.

You can make your final submission after you have:

  • Completed your oral examination
  • Satisfactorily completed any required corrections or revisions to your thesis
  • 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.

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