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{}Admission to Graduate Programme
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PhD Information
The PhD programme in NZ universities is similar to the UK model (rather than the US model). A PhD is based entirely on research leading to the writing of a thesis. The minimum completion time (for full time PhD study) is two and a half years, and the maximum time allowed before submission is six years. To be accepted as a PhD student a candidate would normally need to have a 1st class or upper 2nd class honours degree in the given field (or a related field) of study or a Masters degree. Also, the student must show evidence of prior research experience. This may be satisfied by the completion of a substantial undergraduate research project, a master's thesis, or the publication of academic papers.

For NZ citizens and permanent residents, the annual fee for PhD study is NZ$4123, but check the domestic fees Web page for the most recent information. Australian, French and German citizens also pay fees at this rate due to reciprocal agreements between these countries and New Zealand.

For international students (other than citizens of Australia, France and Germany), the fees for full-time study are NZ$21000 per year for a PhD. See the international fees Web page for the latest details.

Most international students must arrange for medical and travel insurance to cover their entire period of study in New Zealand, although students funded by Commonwealth and NZAID scholarships will have access to publicly funded NZ health services. Students whose previous degree has been conferred at a university outside New Zealand may be required to provide a certified copy of their academic record, translated into ECTS points and grades, or ratings as supplied by the designated Qualification Evaluation Agency:

Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
P.O. Box 514070,
Wisconsin 53203-3470
(The fee for this service must be paid by the applicant.)

Qualifications awarded by institutions having a student exchange agreement with the University of Otago do not usually need to be evaluated, nor do qualifications awarded in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. Also, students with degrees from 27 approved Indian universities do not need to get an ECE evaluation, provided that their applications are submitted through one of the University of Otago's approved agents in India. However, students with degrees from these Indian universities are still required to obtain an ECE evaluation if applying for an Otago International Scholarship.

For students who don't have English as a first language, the university requires evidence of English language competence. This requirement can be satisfied by a recent score of 587 (with TWE 4.5) on a TOEFL paper test, 240 (with 4.5 for the essay) on a TOEFL computer test, or 6.5 in IELTS (with no band below 6.0). There are also two other options: a B grade in the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or a grade 4 result in the Advanced Placement Iternational English Language (APIEL) examination. The English language requirements can sometimes be waived if a studdent is able to provide evidence that a previous degree was taught in English and/or that he or she has lived or worked in an English speaking environment. The decision of whether to waive the requirements is made on a case-by-case basis.

Financial Assistance:

  • NZ residents and citizens of NZ, Australia, France and Germany can apply for a University of Otago Postgraduate Scholarship. The PhD Scholarship pays living costs of NZ$20000 plus fees and a thesis-binding allowance. There are also ten Otago Prestigious Scholarships available which pay NZ$25000 plus fees and a thesis-binding allowance. The closing date for applications for these two types of scholarship is 1 November. Scholarship decisions are made largely based on a grade point average of the "advanced courses" (generally 3rd and 4th year courses) in the applicant's previous degree. There is no fixed cut-off score, but to give an indication of the standard required, for 2003 the successful candidates had an average GPA of at least 6.93 (a high B+ in our scale where A+ = 9 and C- = 1).
  • For international students (other than citizens of Australia, France and Germany), the university has International PhD Scholarships worth US$14000. These scholarships can be held for up to three years. Scholarship holders still have to pay course fees and there is no living allowance on top of this. These are awarded once a year to candidates who send in their postgraduate study application by 15 October. The results will be known by the third week of December. (Note that the number of these scholarships is limited, and therefore they are highly competitive. However, the New Zealand government has just announced that it will put an extra NZ$40 million into the international education industry from 2005. Under this 4-year plan, 33 extra international scholarships will be available nationwide in 2005, with 200 scholarships projected for 2007.)
  • The Dr Sulaiman Daud Jubilee 125 Scholarship is available to students from Malaysia for Masters or PhD study. For PhD students it is worth NZ$20000 per year for a maximum of three years and also covers fees at the international rate.
  • The New Zealand Agency for International Development offers scholarships for students from certain developing countries for study in areas of developmental relevance to their home countries. The scholarship covers tuition, enrolment/orientation fees, return economy fare travel and provision for students to meet course and basic living costs. Students from China must write to the State Education Commission (SEDC), 37 Da Mu Cang Hu Tong, 100816 Beijing to apply to be considered under this scheme. Applications must reach the University of Otago International Office by 30 June to be considered for funding for the following year.
  • Students qualifying for New Zealand residency pay fees at the rate for NZ students. The NZ Immigration Service has details about the residency points system. Only in rare circumstance are we able to offer full-time research jobs to postgraduate students, who then work on a thesis concurrently with their paid research. This possibility depends on the supervisor of the research having a research grant with funds allocated for such a position.
  • There is no graduate assistantship scheme similar to that run by US universities. We employ tutors to help run our courses, and international students are eligible to apply to be tutors when they get here, but such work cannot normally be guaranteed in advance.