STEP 1: Application & CV: 

  • Interested candidates are required to complete an application form as well submit a comprehensive curriculum vitae to the postgraduate administrator, Bernia Drake.
  • Once your application and CV has been screened, you will be informed whether you may submit a pre-proposal (Step 2).
  • Apply via the e-application system of the University. You will need an e-mail address and cellphone number.  Follow the procedure set out on the online application page.
  •  International students must apply before the end of August and South African students before the end of September.

STEP 2: Pre-proposal:
The university will register you as a doctoral student only once you have submitted a doctoral proposal and this had been approved by the various committees of the university. In order to avoid wasting time on the development of a proposal which is not acceptable to CREST, we have decided that all prospective doctoral students must FIRST submit a doctoral preproposal. CREST assesses pre-proposals for two reasons. Firstly, we need to assess whether your interests coincide with the research expertise and interests of the staff members of the department. There is no point, we believe, in accepting a doctoral student, if we do not have an expert and experienced potential promoter in the department. Secondly, this process allows us to identify the most likely supervisor(s) and to assign such a person to work with you on the final doctoral proposal.

The doctoral pre-proposal must not exceed three pages in length and must include the following:

  • Working title of the doctoral thesis
  •  The motivation or rationale behind the proposed study
  • Broad description of the research aims and objectives of the study
  • The design and methodology of the proposed study
  • An indication of the readings that you have already done or intend doing on the topic

Once we have received your pre-proposal, it will be discussed at the next departmental meeting after which you will be informed (1) whether you have been conditionally accepted as a doctoral student, and (2) who the person in the department is with whom you should further correspond. If you have been conditionally accepted, you will then be invited to submit a full doctoral proposal (Step 3).

STEP 3: Doctoral proposal:
Once you have received the go-ahead on the basis of the pre-proposal that you have submitted, you must now concentrate on developing a full doctoral proposal that meets the university guidelines. During this period, you will be registered as a prospective doctoral student (maximum of one year) in order for you to gain access to the information and library resources of the University. In our experience, it takes the average doctoral candidate between three and six months to develop a proper doctoral proposal that meets the requirements of the university. The doctoral proposal is a document that is interactively developed between you and your supervisor. Your supervisor will give you continuous feedback, until all parties are satisfied that the proposal meets all the requirements. Once you have reached this stage, your proposal is submitted for review within the university system.

STEP 4: Review process:

Your doctoral proposal essentially moves through three stages of review within the university system:

  1. A departmental review committee. This committee consists of the head of CREST, your supervisor(s), and two members of other academic departments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Where possible, we request that doctoral candidates be present during this discussion of their doctoral proposals before this committee.
  2. The Faculty Higher Degrees and Research Committee. Once the departmental review committee has approved it, it is forwarded to the Faculty Higher Degrees and Research Committee for assessment.
  3. The Faculty Council. If the Faculty Research Committee approves the doctoral proposal, a recommendation to this effect is sent to the next Faculty Council meeting and subsequently goes for ratification to Senate. The doctoral proposal may at any stage of this process be referred back to the candidate for changes and revisions.

STEP 5: Registration:

You will be registered as a doctoral student once your doctoral proposal has been approved by the Senate of the University. Stellenbosch University allows doctoral students to register either during the first or the second semester of the academic year. In order for you to register during the first semester, your doctoral proposal normally has to enter the review process by the end of January at the latest. In order for you to be able to register for the second semester, your doctoral proposal has to be submitted by the end of March.