How to apply, step-by-step

Follow this guide to ensure your doctoral application is completed correctly.

Step 1: Check you meet the requirements

Before you begin your application, make sure you understand the requirements for admission.

Step 2: Online application

Victoria University of Wellington uses an online application for both admission as a doctoral student and to apply for a Wellington Doctoral Scholarship. This application (Communityforce) allows you to complete all required documentation including referee requests via a dashboard. The dashboard must be 100% complete (showing all green) before you can submit your application.

Step 3: Prepare your expression of interest

Successful doctoral research makes original and significant contributions to knowledge and prepares graduates to undertake further research or to apply their advanced skills. Victoria University of Wellington doctoral candidates begin with up to 12 months of provisional registration. During this period, each candidate works under supervision to develop and write a full research proposal, which is a formal document designed to clarify the parameters of the doctoral project and situate it in the context of relevant international scholarship.

In many cases, the precise focus of candidates’ research changes from their initial ideas. There can also be restrictions on what can be studied, due to funding considerations, or compliance with local requirements such as provisions for access to Antarctica, human ethics requirements, consultation with Māori. This is why we do not require a research proposal from you now. Instead, we ask you to provide a clear overview of the nature of your intended study, you will need to specifically address the following questions:

  1. What specific issue or question are you interested in studying?
  2. Why do you think this topic needs further research?
  3. How might you go about researching this issue?
  4. What particular obstacles or challenges, if any, do you anticipate in conducting this research?
  5. What in your academic, professional or personal background prepares you to undertake doctoral research?

Issues or questions that match the research profile of particular researchers within the University are more likely to lead to acceptance than those that do not. Please also present your work in the context of the international literature and contribution to global knowledge. Mention any specific theories or methods you might draw on or any specific locations, materials or purposes that you believe would suit a doctoral project. It may be to your benefit to make contact with a School before completing your application. The School may contact you when your application is considered.

Step 4: Select your academic referees

References form a critical part of your application. You must ask two referees to evaluate your academic ability and research potential. The online application system allows you to request these references.

  • Your referees must complete the reference request using a verifiable institutional email address (you must not send referees' reports yourself).
  • Your application will not be considered if your referees do not complete the reference before the application deadline.
  • You are strongly advised to ensure that at least one (but preferably both) referees have experience with the successful completion of research students.
  • If you are asking a potential Victoria University of Wellington supervisor for a reference, please note that only one potential supervisor may be allowed to provide a reference and they must have had experience supervising you.

Step 5: Assemble additional documentation

All applicants will need to provide:

  • a 2000-word sample of your academic writing in English
  • certified copies of your academic transcript/s and degree certificates
  • a certified copy of your Diploma Supplement (applicants from EU countries only).

International students must provide:

You may also wish to provide additional information regarding your English proficiency in the relevant section of the online application.


Below is an example of a complete reference.

Smith M, Jones S M, Brown E F, ' Tell me about your childhood', in Mind myths: exploring popular assumptions about the mind and brain, edited by Taco Rosa (Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 2009), pp. 13-17.

Step 6: Upload all required documentation to the online application

Check that you have:

  • Selected your academic referees and sent them the request
  • Completed all required sections in the online application
  • Provided your academic writing sample
  • Provided your transcript(s)/degree certificates
  • Provided a copy of your Diploma Supplement, if required
  • Provided evidence of English language proficiency and translations of official documents, if required

All of this information should be uploaded to the online application. If it is not possible to do so, please email

Postal address

Scholarships & PhD Admissions
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600
Wellington 6140
New Zealand


Courier address

Scholarships & PhD Admissions
Room 104
10 Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6012
New Zealand

Additional information required by some schools

Some schools require additional information to that specified in the application form. To find out more, follow the links below:

Step 7: Submit your application

Applications must be submitted directly by the applicant (not by an agent).

You will receive notification from us via the email address provided that the application has been submitted.

You are able to check the status of your application by logging into the online application with your email and password. The dashboard on the online application shows the progress of your application including references that have been received.

What happens once you've submitted your application

Assessing your application

Your application will be forwarded to the appropriate School Research Committee for assessment. The committee will need to be satisfied that you have an adequate academic background and that the school can provide you with the supervision and resources you will need for your research.

If the school approves your application, the committee may require you to complete some coursework during your provisional registration.

Read the criteria for assessment of Wellington Doctoral Scholarships applications.

Notification of the outcome

You will receive notification of the outcome of your application for admission and scholarship within six weeks from the closing date for applications.

Offer of Place

If your application is successful, you will be sent an email offering you a place at Victoria University of Wellington. This offer will also indicate whether your application for doctoral funding was successful.

You can log in to the online system to view your offer and print if necessary.

In order to confirm your place at Victoria University of Wellington, you must:

  • read the Notes to Accompany the Offer of Place
  • accept this offer using the online application and accepting the offer of place within one month
  • supply the Doctoral Admissions Office with all academic transcripts and degree certificates.
  • meet any other conditions placed on your offer.

Starting your doctoral candidacy

Once you have accepted your Offer of Place, you're expected to arrive at Victoria University of Wellington and begin your studies within:

  • six months if you are a New Zealand candidate
  • nine months if you are an international candidate.

You will need to formally enrol at Victoria University of Wellington in person. Find out more about starting your PhD.