PhD Application Roadmap

6 steps to start your PhD today


Application Requirements

Applicants need to be in possession of a recognised Master’s degree (or in special circumstances, at the discretion of the Senate, an approved Bachelor’s degree or qualification recognised by the Senate as equivalent). They must demonstrate that they have the necessary competencies in research methodology and practice that are required for the completion of an independent study research degree.

Applicants will need to include with their application a nomination of a suitable supervisor. Your nominated PhD supervisor must be a full-time academic at the GSB and must be actively publishing in the scholarly literature in the field in question. GSB faculty can discuss applicants’ research ideas and preliminary proposal at their discretion, but we advise applicants not to contact potential supervisors without some preliminary research ideas. Note that it is not always possible to find a supervisor who is both suitable and available and an applicant cannot be registered if there is no available supervisor for the proposed research at the GSB. (For a full list of GSB faculty and their research interests, please see here).

Note: Please ensure that you have completed ALL SIX STEPS, as no incomplete application will be considered by the Admissions Board.

Step 1 - Download and read the Phd Application Guidelines.

Step 2 - The documents you will need:

The following documents are required as part of your application:

  • A preliminary proposal of about five pages in length or about 2500 words. The purpose of the proposal is to make a case for the research to be undertaken, and it will need to show that the applicant has the ability to identify a pertinent research question, has at least an initial grasp of the relevant literature, and has some of the necessary competencies in research methodology and practice that are required for the completion of an independent study research degree. The proposal should include (not necessarily in the following order):
    • An abstract of 100 words;
    • An outline of the essential background literature;
    • The rationale of the proposed research, with reference to the intended practical and theoretical contributions;
    • The key question(s) to be addressed and the main objectives of the research;
    • The approach to be taken in doing the project, including a preliminary outline of the proposed research design and data generation and analysis methods;
    • References
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • An academic transcript
  • Two references
  • Three Motivations

Step 3 - Complete a UCT online application: 

NOTE: Supported internet browsers are Internet Explorer 7 - 11 as well as Firefox, Edge and Chrome. Unsupported browsers are not fully compatible and may prevent you from completing and/or submitting your online application.

When completing the "Programme of Study" section, please select the following:

  • Select 2018 academic year
  • Level of Qualification: Doctoral
  • Faculty: Commerce
  • Academic Qualification: Doctor of Philosophy
  • Specialisation or Major: Business Administration

Begin the Online Application here.

Step 4 - Pay your non-refundable application fee:

Citizens of all African countriesR1 350 (One Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty Rand)
Applicants from all other countriesUS$ 285 (Two Hundred and Eighty-Five US Dollars)

Banking Details:

Beneficiary: UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN - GSB Account No.9
Bank: Standard Bank SA Ltd
Branch: Rondebosch, Western Cape
Branch Code: 025009
Account: 072953004
Swift code (for international payments): SBZAZAJJ
GSB Reference Number format: GSB / surname / first name - OR - UCT student number

Alternatively, please click here for the Credit Card Authorisation Form

Step 5 - Master Dissertation

Masters Research Report dissertation and mark obtained (the student needs to have graduated at the time of registration) should be emailed to admissions@gsb.uct.ac.za.

Step 6 - Deliver hard-copy documents:

GSB Admissions, Graduate School of Business
University of Cape Town
Breakwater Campus
Portswood Road
Green Point
Cape Town, 8001
South Africa

Please DO NOT send the documents to UCT Main Campus (Rondebosch).

Overnight courier or hand-deliver your documents to the GSB campus Breakwater Campus

  • Certified copy of ID or passport
  • Certified copies of degree qualifications (degree certificate and transcripts). Copies of UCT qualifications are not required.
  • Proof of payment of the non-refundable application fee.
  • Two reference letters.
  • TOEFL or EILTS score (International Candidates)

Note: Each certified copy of diploma, transcript, partially completed degrees and ID or passport must carry an original stamp from a Commissioner of Oaths (or equivalent). Documents which have previously been certified and then photocopied, are not acceptable.

Students with outstanding balances on their fees accounts will not have any subsequent application processed until the debt has been settled in full. 

Applications to the GSB PhD programme are welcome between 1 May and 31 October for commencement at the beginning of the following academic year. Please note that no late applications will be considered. Applicants will be notified by 1 November.

Company Sponsorship:

  1. Must be on a company letterhead.
  2. Must detail the student name and student number.
  3. Must detail the amount of the sponsorship.
  4. Must agree to adhere to the Initial and Final Fee Payment Deadlines (50% paid prior to enrolment, with balance to be paid by 30 June).
  5. Must indicate contact details of a company representative (full names, designation, telephone  number and email address) that can be contacted to verify the sponsorship

Proforma invoice can be requested here.

Payment Methods:

  1. Direct deposit at any branch of Standard Bank
  2. Internet banking direct transfer
  3. Telegraphic / wire transfer (from outside South Africa)
  4. Debit and Credit Card payments (we do not accept American Express or Diners Cards though)
  5. Cheque payments (Cheques should be crossed and made payable to the "University of Cape Town" and the student name and number written on the back of the cheque.)
  6. Cash payments up to a maximum of R 1,000.00 can be made at the GSB. Anything greater must be paid directly into a Standard Bank branch or done via another option listed above.



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