Faculty of Education and Social Work

PhD in Education

We welcome the best, brightest and most committed scholars to become part of our community of doctoral candidates researching in the field of education.

Quick facts
Qualification Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education
Length Three to four years full-time (six to eight years part-time)*
Start Any time during the year
Contact Doctoral and Postgraduate Research Administrator, Leigh Beever: l.beever@auckland.ac.nz
or 09 623 8812 (Intl: +64 9 623 8812)

*New international PhD students are entitled to domestic fee benefits subject to supervisory and residency requirements.


PhD students carry out original and advanced research, and present it as a thesis. An oral examination completes the degree.

The PhD does not include coursework. As part of the provisional year however you may be required to undertake coursework considered necessary for completion of the degree. Successful achievement of this coursework would be included as one of the goals for your provisional year.

Please note, the faculty does not offer doctoral programmes by distance.

Frauke Meyer completed a PhD in Education and now works as a Research Fellow in the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice.
Frauke Meyer completed a PhD in Education and now works as a Research Fellow in the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice.

Jointly awarded PhDs

As part of the Universitas 21 international consortium The University of Auckland can enable doctoral degrees that are jointly awarded by the University with another partner.



Doctoral study is carried out under the guidance of two supervisors who are experienced researchers. Your supervisors will guide you through the research process and the writing of your thesis. However, they will expect you to be self-managing and to take the initiative.

The main supervisor takes overall responsibility for your supervision and is assisted by a second supervisor and/or an adviser or advisory committee. Supervision must be available and approved by the University before you embark on your PhD.

The Faculty of Education and Social Work has a Register of Supervisors that contains names of academics who supervise doctoral students. This register includes each academic’s area(s) of research expertise and experience, both content and methodological. Additional information such as publications and involvement in research projects is available by selecting the name(s) of the individual(s) you are interested in approaching. Individual profiles will give you a sense of each academic’s research experience and interests. View Register of Supervisors.

As part of the Application process (See Step Four in the process), you will be invited to identify and approach potential supervisors to discuss your research proposal and expectations of each other. Discussion may also address issues such as frequency of meetings; preparation for meetings; level and rate of work expected and; availability of resources.

Supervision involves a close working relationship where both parties will have expectations of each other and both will have responsibilities. Useful information about roles and responsibilities within supervision is available at Postgraduate Supervision Tools.


Resourcing and support

There are five Schools in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. Each School has information about staff, their research and the work of doctoral students.

Once enrolled in the PhD programme, you are placed in the same School as your main supervisor. Resources such as a work-space, desk, computer, and access to a printer and phone are provided through your School.


Your first year in the PhD (provisional year)

The first 12 months of fulltime study in the doctoral programme, or 24 months if part-time, is provisional.

To continue in the programme you must achieve the goals set for your provisional year including successful completion of a full research proposal.

The following goals are identified for all doctoral students:

  • Full thesis proposal (completed within 6 months)
  • Completion of one substantial piece of written work (completed within 12 months)
  • Seminar presentation of research progress
  • Approval of full thesis proposal to appropriate School / Faculty committee (see below)
  • Ethics approval(s) permissions for the research (if required)
  • Attendance at one of the Doctoral Skills Programme’s induction days
  • Must undertake DELNA screening; should the DELNA diagnostic be advised following the screening, must undergo diagnostic and attend any language enrichment recommended by the Language Adviser.

Note: the months above refer to fulltime study.

Subject to agreement between yourself and your supervisors, other goals may be added.

A written report is completed at the end of your provisional year regarding your progress and achievements.


The research proposal

As part of your provisional year you must complete and submit a full research proposal for your PhD. This proposal sets out your research area, aim, research questions and provides an overview of your proposed research.

For guidance regarding the research proposal see the following:

Once completed, the full proposal is reviewed by two academics nominated by your supervisors. These academics make judgements about the quality of your proposed research and provide feedback. Amendments can be made to your proposal prior to submission to the faculty’s PhD adviser.

The proposal must be approved by the faculty and the University’s Board of Graduate Studies before you can be fully registered.


Ethics applications (if required)

Statement of policy

All research conducted within the auspices of the Faculty of Education and Social Work will adhere to The University of Auckland’s Human Participants Ethics Committee guidelines.

Faculty of Education and Social Work Procedures

Visit Ethics applications.