How to apply

Our step-by-step guide will help you apply for a PhD or professional doctorate at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

You don’t need to find a supervisor before you apply, but we encourage you to learn about our researchers and approach them directly to discuss potential projects. The final allocation of supervisors is done by the School, according to research interests and available resourcing.

How to find a supervisor

Step-by-step guide to applying

Step 1: Check that you meet the requirements

Before you begin your application, make sure you understand our requirements for admission, including prerequisite qualifications, and what is really involved in doing a doctoral degree.

Doctoral entry requirements

Step 2: Additional requirements

Check whether you’re applying for a programme—such as architecture, creative writing, design, health, or music—where the school requires additional application information. This might be a portfolio, audition, or prior registration of interest.

Programmes with additional application requirements

Step 3: Online application

Sign up for the online application system. The University uses a system called Communityforce to process applications for all doctoral degrees and for Wellington Doctoral Scholarships (PhD only).

You will enter information and upload documentation through this system, and use it to request reports from your referees. You must complete and submit your own application—you cannot use an agent to apply on your behalf.

Your privacy is important, and we protect the personal information you submit to us. Find out more about the University's privacy policy.

Step 4: Prepare your expression of interest

You don’t need to prepare a formal research proposal at this stage. You need to write an 'expression of interest', which should provide a clear overview of the nature of your intended study, discuss how you will research your topic, and explain why you are suited for doctoral research.

Writing an expression of interest

Step 5: Assemble and upload additional documentation

Upload your documentation through the online system. All applicants need to provide:

  • A 2,000-word sample of your academic writing in English or te reo Māori.
  • Certified copies of your academic transcript/s and degree certificates.

International students need to upload further documentation, including:

  • Evidence of English language proficiency.
  • Translations of official documents—these must be certified by an accredited translator.
  • Applicants from EU countries also need to upload a certified copy of their Diploma Supplement.

If you are having trouble uploading documentation, please contact

If you provide more information than has been requested, it will not be forwarded to the selection panels.

Step 6: Scholaro report for international qualifications

If your most recent qualification was not completed in New Zealand—and you are not a current student of this University—you are required to provide a Scholaro Grade Point Average (GPA) report.

You will need to pay a small fee directly to Scholaro. Find out more about generating a Scholaro GPA report for your doctoral application.

Generate a Scholaro GPA report

Step 7: Select your academic referees

Use the online application system to contact two referees and ask them to evaluate your academic ability and research potential.

Your referees’ reports (references) are a critical part of your application and must be received before we can consider your application. You should request your references at least two weeks before the deadline for your chosen round.

More about referees’ reports

Step 8: Check and submit your application

You can check the status of your application through the online system. The dashboard shows your progress, including whether we have received reports from your referees.

Your application must be 100% complete—with the dashboard showing all green—before you can submit it. We will send an email to the address you provided once we have received your application.

After you submit your application

Incomplete applications

If your application is incomplete by 4.30 pm (New Zealand time) on the day of the deadline, you will need to reapply in the following round. You will be able to transfer some but not all of your information. We will remove from the system any applications that remain incomplete through two successive deadlines.

Contact us

The Doctoral Admissions and Scholarships team process all applications for doctoral programmes across the University

Contact the Doctoral Admissions team