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PhD Programme

The School of Human and Community Development currently offers:   

  1. The general PhD (by thesis OR including publication)
  2. The PhD including publication in the area of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Practice
The application procedure detailed below pertains to both types of PhD

Disciplines covered in this School: Psychology, Social Work, Speech Pathology, Audiology – for PhDs in other disciplines please contact the relevant Department/School

Application process

Please note that application into PhD studies in our School is contingent upon the following criteria:

a) A minimum aggregate mark of 70% in the Master's degree (NQF level 9).

b) A mark of 70% for the Masters research component is required in order to be considered for admission into the PhD program. Applicants with a mark between 65 - 69% for the Master’s research component will need to provide a motivation and evidence of additional scholarly outputs, for example, peer-reviewed journal articles or equivalent, along with the concept paper in order to be considered. References may also be requested from the Master’s supervisor and/or a motivation from a potential PhD supervisor.

c) Submission of a concept paper that outlines the proposed PhD project, and which is found to meet the requirements for PhD level study by the School's PhD committee (See information below on how to write a concept paper).

d) The availability of a supervisor for the proposed project.  For information on staff research interests, please Click Here to download the document highlighting the staff research interests

The application process begins with a formal submission to the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC).

The School is represented at SEnC by a postgraduate team who will facilitate the submission. The School requires that the following documents be included in the submission:

  1. The online application form.
  2. A full academic transcript of all previous university courses taken, including percentage scores where possible. Students who completed degrees at Wits do not need to submit transcripts for these.
  3. A SAQA equivalence certificate if the Master’s degree was not completed at a South African University. Please note that this can take some time to obtain, and an application for this should be made to well in advance of the application to Wits.
  4. A copy of the Master’s research report or dissertation, as well as any publications.
  5. A recent curriculum vitae, including the details of two referees.
  6. A concept paper outlining the proposed PhD project. Information on what is expected in the concept paper is available Click Here
  7. Further documentation will be required for applicants who do not meet the 70% minimum academic requirement as explained under point b) above.
  8. All queries related to the actual submission should be directed to SEnC postgraduate team via their call centre on 011 717 1888 or via e-mail on once complete, the application is forwarded on to the Faculty and then the School for screening.

Upon receipt of the application, the documents are sent for independent review by two members of staff in the School. The reviews should be complete within 3 weeks of receipt.

The reviews are then scrutinised by the School’s PhD Committee and a potential supervisor, identified by the PhD committee. The application is then accepted or rejected. A telephonic or Skype interview with the candidate may be requested, and the applicant may be offered an opportunity to revise the concept paper if the concept has potential but does not fully meet the criteria for a PhD project. The outcome will then be communicated to the Faculty. The Faculty officer will then inform the student of the outcome. Candidates are expected to commit to a number of face-to-face meetings per annum with their supervisor – this includes candidates who do not reside near to the university, and this factor needs to be budgeted and planned for when considering a PhD.

In the case of acceptance for candidature, the applicant will be invited to register with the Faculty of Humanities. The candidate will also be informed when s/he is expected to present a proposal of acceptable quality to the School Committee within 6 months (if registered Full-time) and one year (if registered Part-time) of registration, and before the proposal is send to Faculty for review. During this point, the candidate’s registration is provisional, and final acceptance into the PhD is contingent upon the proposal being acceptable and meeting the criteria for a PhD project. The Committee reserves the right to terminate a student’s candidature at any point during this proposal registration period at its discretion.

The Committee makes one of the following decisions at the School proposal presentation:

  1. Accept the proposal for submission to the Faculty.
  2. Accept the proposal for submission to the Faculty subject to revisions undertaken to the satisfaction of the supervisor.
  3. Call for re-presentation.
  4. Reject the proposal and terminate the candidature.

Should the Committee take decision 3, the candidate will be expected to re-present the proposal within one month, at which time the Committee will make one of the following decisions:

  1. Accept the proposal for submission to Faculty
  2. Accept the proposal for the submission to Faculty subject to revisions undertaken to the satisfaction of the supervisor
  3. Reject the proposal and terminate his/her candidature

Following approval by the SHCD the candidate’s PhD process will be governed by the generic Faculty structures outlined Click Here to download the document

The document includes information on the graduate infrastructure and support offered by the University and importantly provides guidelines for preparing the final proposal for submission to the School and Faculty after the six month/ one year formal preparation period.

Fees and funding

Please go to for information on Fees and funding/scholarships/bursaries.

Many students will find it difficult to self-fund their PhD studies. This means that a large proportion of our students do their PhD part-time. Unfortunately, this limits eligibility for many of the funding opportunities. Visit for information on University opportunities for funding. In addition, some research projects may come with funding linked to the supervisor. It is recommended that you speak to potential supervisors about this possibility (please note that this funding is usually attached to specific research projects).

The Faculty and School hold various workshops and writing retreats for PhD students during the course of the year (see


Should you have any queries regarding the PhD process, please contact the Chair of the School’s PhD Committee, Professor Thobeka Nkomo,

Please note that this pertains to PhDs in Psychology, Speech Pathology, Audiology and Social work only. For PhDs in other disciplines, please contact the relevant Department/School.

We look forward to receiving your application.