Transferring from Master’s to PhD

If you're currently enrolled in a Master's degree, you may be able to build on your research and do a PhD—find out whether you're eligible and how it works.

You may be able to transfer your enrolment from a Master’s by thesis degree to a PhD degree programme. The University's decision on whether you can 'convert' your research project depends on the availability of suitable supervision and on you having a recommendation from your supervisor.

Your supervisor must complete an application form on your behalf. You don’t need to complete the online PhD application, unless you want to be considered for a Wellington Doctoral Scholarship.


If you want to upgrade to PhD enrolment, you must:

  • be currently enrolled in a Master's thesis (minimum 90 points) at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
  • be within 11 months of your first enrolment for the Master's degree, and
  • have not submitted your Master's thesis for examination.

How to apply

Your supervisor must recommend an upgrade on your behalf using the School/Faculty PhD Approval Form.

You are not required to complete an application for the PhD, but if you wish to be considered for a Wellington Doctoral Scholarship you need to complete an online application. Any scholarship offer takes into account your previous Master's enrolment.

You can make an application to upgrade to a PhD at any time, but you need to make your application for a Wellington Doctoral Scholarship within one of the three standard application rounds.

Criteria for assessing applications

In order to approve your application to upgrade from Master's to PhD, the School Research Committee must be satisfied that:

  • you have the level of competence required for PhD study (including English language proficiency)
  • your Master's research can be extended so as to form a viable PhD project
  • adequate supervision is available (the supervisors of your Master’s thesis will not necessarily remain on the PhD supervisory team), and
  • adequate resources are available for your research.

You and your supervisors need to agree in writing on the additional work to be undertaken. This document will form part of the application to be submitted to the School Research Committee.

Date of registration

Once the upgrade has been approved, you are provisionally registered for the PhD from the date of registration for your Master’s degree. You will still have to satisfy the requirements for full registration as a PhD student.