The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is offered in all Faculties of the University. In the Faculty of Commerce, it is a research degree on an advanced topic under supervision. The examination is by thesis alone. The general rules for this degree are set out in Book 3 of this series entitled "General Rules and Policies". The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is also subject to the following Faculty rules:


A candidate who registers for the degree without submitting an approved research proposal is required to submit this approved research proposal to the Faculty Board by no later than six months from the date of first registration.

If the Faculty Board approves the research proposal, the Board shall recommend the candidate for registration to the University’s Doctoral Degrees Board.


If the candidate fails to submit a research proposal by not later than six months from the date of first registration, or if the Faculty Board rejects the research proposal, the candidate’s registration shall be cancelled. 


A candidate registering for the first time for the degree may register at any time.


A returning candidate shall register by not later than 28 February each year.


The registration renewal is subject to a satisfactory annual report from the primary supervisor and relevant Head of Department approved by the Dean or Dean’s nominee. 


Except by the special permission of the Dean of Commerce, the thesis submitted for the degree shall not be less than 40,000 words or exceed 80,000 words. 

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To apply, please click this link  Apply here


  1. A Masters degree in Economics is usually required.
  2. Applicants should upload a 5-page proposal with their application. Check our staff page for our academic's areas of interest. 
  3. You must put in an application to the University as well. You can do this online at We encourage students to apply through the Commerce Faculty.
  4. Your proposal will be distributed to the relevant lecturers within the School of Economics to match you with a suitable supervisor.
  5. The Post-graduate Committee in the School of Economics will send recommendations for suitable candidates to the Faculty Board.
  6. Subject to Faculty Board approval, the candidate may register with the university for this degree.
  7. A candidate will be required to submit and present a formal research proposal to the Post-graduate Committee and Faculty Board for approval by no later than six months from the date of first registration.
  8. If the proposal is not accepted, registration will be cancelled.
  9. During the registration period, a candidate will normally be required to “attend the University” for a period of at least one year. By “attend at the University”, the Senate understands that the candidate shall, within reason, be readily available for discussion at the University.
  10. For practical purposes, the PhD in Economics (by thesis) programme takes about 4 years to complete. The Doctoral Degrees Board (DDB) controls much of the process after registration, even though the School of Economics can call for seminars periodically. Students are generally required to be residents in Cape Town for at least one year.  The thesis submitted for the degree shall not exceed 80,000 words.