Welcome to Stellenbosch University


How do the doctoral programmes in Stellenbosch differ from those in the USA?

  1. The main difference is that it assumes already some broad knowledge about the discipline, e.g. Greek, Hebrew, exegesis of the NT or OT, or linguistics for the PhD in Ancient Languages (which is done in the Faculty of Arts) and does not involve any structured teaching modules.

  2. A student "only" writes a dissertation. However, to be allowed to register for the doctoral programs a research proposal has to be accepted by faculty. This proposal a prospective student must prepare under the guidance of his/her study-leader. Depending on the academic background, this proposal can take from 3 to 12 months to prepare. The 2000-3000 word proposal must adhere to a prescribed format (guidelines are provided). The study-leader must defend the proposal before a small sub-committee of experts in the faculty. This committee recommends the proposal to a full meeting of faculty in terms of three explicit recommendations: 1. The project is worthwhile (in other words, it addresses a problem that can contribute to the pool of knowledge in the discipline) and realistic (it can be done). 2. The theoretical frame of reference and proposed method is suitable for addressing to problem identified. 3. The candidate has the knowledge and skill to do the project. 4. The project needs or does not need clearance by the ethical committee.

  3. The thesis (preferably of about 80 000 word. i.e. 220-250 pages) may be submitted after two years of registration and is examined by one internal and two external examiners. Students pay their fee for the program during in the two years after registration. Thereafter they have to pay a registration fee on a yearly basis. Two years of further registration are automatic. Thereafter the study-leader must submit a recommendation that the project can go ahead. (A project that goes beyond 5 years would indeed need some special recommendation!)

  4. The research proposal is a pivotal mechanism in the process. Indirectly it establishes whether a candidate has the necessary broad knowledge of his/her field of study, whether he/she can do independent research (i.e. in the preliminary research), can conceptualize problems in his/her discipline and can present his/research in a logic and coherent manner. If a students does not have the necessary background in some aspects of his/her field of study, the proposal forces him/her to acquire it before going ahead with his/her research.

Guidelines for doctoral proposals: PDF