The length of a PhD is variable. The University requires that you be registered for a minimum of two years if you are pursuing a PhD full time and a minimum of four years if you are studying part time. The decision to study part-time or full-time will be made between you and your supervisor; the programme leadership is happy to advise.
No. We recognise that the fieldwork may require you to spend significant amounts of time outside of Johannesburg and even outside of South Africa. We do require, however, that you spend a minimum of two to three months resident in Johannesburg during the course of your PhD. We recommend that these are around the time of your protocol submission, your interim seminar and review and your final write-up, but this is flexible. You must, however, be present for your protocol presentation to the PhD group and your protocol assessment with the Faculty and should anticipate these being approximately two months apart. You must also be present for your interim seminar and review which happens approximately halfway through your PhD. Your supervisor needs to attend the protocol presentation and assessment, as well as the interim seminar and review.
It is important to note that being away from Johannesburg does not exempt you from fulfilling the requirements of the programme. You will be expected to identify a seminar series equivalent to that offered here which meets the approval of programme leadership and you must demonstrate 60% attendance at these meetings.
At least one of your supervisors must be a staff member in the School of Public Health and at least one must have a PhD. Together, the supervisor team needs to provide appropriate content and methodological expertise.
We allow doctoral candidates in closely-aligned research units to participate in the programme even if they are not registered with the School or the Faculty of Health Sciences. Interested candidates must apply and commit to participating fully in all aspects of the programme. Such candidates should note that expenses for events such as the annual PhD retreat are not covered by the SPH and will need to be paid for by their units.
You do not have to identify a supervisor, but applications with identified supervisors and which provide documentary evidence of this are more favourably considered.
Please review the staff pages on the School of Public Health website. They indicate the research interests of members of staff and whether they are available to supervise PhD students. However, you may have a supervisor who is not a faculty member of the School or even of the University, as long as you have a co-supervisor which meets this requirement (see FAQ 3). An ideal supervisor is often a senior scientist working in the area of research in which the PhD thesis will nest.
Your application is more likely to be successful if your proposed research is in one of the School’s focus areas or is nested within an existing established research enterprise.
Candidates who have already identified supervisors are more likely to be successful. We will try to identify supervisors for outstanding candidates with research interests closely aligned to those of the School. However, the School cannot always achieve this because of the number of applicants requesting supervisors.
The use of secondary data is governed by faculty regulations. If your research project will be based entirely on secondary data, the Faculty requires that the dataset must be large enough to generate and/or provide answers to novel questions. The dataset must be objectively reliable. The statistical analyses should be sophisticated and at least one supervisor should have good statistical knowledge.
Yes, however only 20-25% of the data you plan to use for your PhD may have been collected prior to approval of your protocol. Up to a quarter of the work (i.e. one publication) may also have already been published, but this must be within the two years prior to submission of the protocol and you must be first author of these publications. Publications older than two years may not be used toward your PhD.
If the majority of the data has already been collected before submission of your protocol, your protocol will be assessed by the Faculty, but you should be aware that this is not normal practice and it is possible that changes to the protocol may be required and the protocol may even be rejected.
If the majority of the data you plan to use for your PhD have been published and you are the first author on these publications, there are several options:
If data have been published subsequent to the candidate’s papers that support or contradict the candidate’s findings, these must be addressed in the protocol.
4. Data collected by the candidate at another institution before the submission of the protocol will only be acceptable if
1. It will constitute <50% of the full PhD project
2. A member of that institution agrees to be a co-supervisor
3. That institution agrees in writing to use of the data
4. Ethical approval has been obtained from that institution
Wits Human Research Ethics Committee will not give retrospective approval to studies, but they will accept ethical approval from bona fide bodies. The Chair of the Wits ethics committee should therefore be approached to determine whether any ethics approval obtained from a non-Wits committee is suitable.
The assessor committee will not accept a protocol if >50% of the data that will constitute the full PhD project were collected at another institute before submission of the protocol.
In all cases where some work, either published or unpublished, has been completed prior to protocol submission, the following conditions apply: