Masters and PhD Applications

Master's and PhD Applications in Department of Management



Thank you for your interest in reading for the degree of Master of Commerce (MCom), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), with the Department of Management at Rhodes University. The information provided in this document contains important information that you must carefully consider before you proceed with a formal application.

There are five main factors that are taken into account when we evaluate applications from potential students at this level.

Firstly, we evaluate your potential to succeed with the challenges of a rigorous and necessarily demanding academic research programme. We do this on the basis of a detailed scrutiny of your previous academic results, both undergraduate and postgraduate. We will also read your prior research, in the form of an honours project (in the case of an MCom application), or a master's thesis (for the PhD). Our evaluation of your potential is informed by the specifications of the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework for master’s and doctoral degrees. See below for details relevant to the level of your application. A key implication of this qualification structure is that no doctoral candidate will require substantial remedial assistance from us, for any of the competencies specified at master’s level.

Secondly, we consider our research supervision capacity. Every year, we receive more applications than we have supervision capacity to accept. Therefore, if you choose to proceed with a formal application, you need to be aware of the highly competitive environment where not all the applicants will be successful.

Thirdly, we consider your research area. This will involve you sending us a preliminary research proposal, written in an acceptable and appropriately referenced academic style. Your preliminary proposal serves a number of important purposes. It provides further insights into your academic abilities. It also enables us to evaluate your perceived levels of commitment to, and enthusiasm for, your proposed research programme. Finally, it allows us to assess the alignment of your research interest with the general academic interests of the staff in the Department.

Fourthly, we wish to know your intended location for the duration of your studies. It is preferable that successful candidates will be in attendance on campus.

Fifthly, we expect that applicants will be interested in studying with us specifically because their proposed research is relevant to the current research activities of a potential supervisor within our Department. This will necessitate an investigation by you, to determine whether your topic is a reasonable match with the publication record (including recent working papers and conference presentations) of one, or perhaps two, of our staff members. Following your investigation, we require a letter of motivation from you, in which you identify your proposed supervisor or supervisors, and explain why your proposed work might be of interest to them.

Purpose of a Master’s degree

The primary purposes of a master’s degree1 are to educate and train researchers who can contribute to the development of knowledge at an advanced level, or prepare graduates for advanced and specialised professional employment. The master’s degree in the Department of Management is by full thesis, and there is no course work component.

The master’s thesis must show that the candidate: a) is sufficiently acquainted with the appropriate methods and techniques of research; b) is sufficiently acquainted with the relevant literature; c) has both satisfactorily understood the nature of the problem or topic and assessed the significance of the findings; and d) has satisfactorily presented the results of independent research for the award of the degree in a manner which is satisfactory as to literary style and presentation, and free from grammatical and typographical errors. Furthermore, the master’s thesis must show that the candidate is able to: a) deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively; b) make sound judgements using data and information at their disposal and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences; c) demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems; d) act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level; and e) continue to advance their knowledge, understanding and skills.

Purpose of a Doctoral degree

A doctoral degree1 requires a candidate to undertake research at the most advanced academic levels culminating in the submission, assessment and acceptance of a thesis. The doctoral degree in the Department of Management is by full thesis, and there is no course work component. The defining characteristic of this qualification is that the candidate is required to demonstrate high-level research capability and make a significant and original academic contribution at the frontiers of a discipline or field. The work must be of a quality to satisfy peer review and merit publication. The degree may be earned through pure discipline-based or multidisciplinary research or applied research. This degree requires a minimum of two years' fulltime study. A graduate must be able to supervise and evaluate the research of others in the area of specialisation concerned. The doctoral thesis must show that the candidate: a) is sufficiently acquainted with the appropriate methods of research; b) is sufficiently acquainted with the relevant literature; c) has satisfactorily presented the results of independent research for the award of the degree; d) has made a substantial and original contribution to knowledge in the discipline, the substance of which is worthy of publication in a scholarly journal or book. (The doctoral thesis differs from a master’s thesis particularly in respect to this point). In addition, the thesis must be satisfactory as to literary style and presentation.

 1 Adapted from Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework. 2013. Notice No. 549, Government Gazette No. 36721. 2 August, Pp. 36-39. Emphasis added.

Period of registration

Minimum period of registration

A full-time Master’s candidate may obtain the degree one year after being awarded an Honours degree. Part-time Master’s candidates must be registered for two years before they can graduate.

The minimum period for which a candidate may be registered for the PhD degree is two years if the candidate holds a Master’s degree.

Maximum period of registration

Candidates are expected to have completed a Master’s degree within three years from first registration and a PhD within five years from first registration or six years if their PhD was upgraded from a Master’s degree.

Consequently, candidates should apply to Senate for the extension of their registration period as Senate may suspend or cancel the registration of a candidate if they are not satisfied that an extension is warranted.

Minimum academic requirements

The minimum academic requirements for postgraduate applicants are as follows: 

  • A minimum average of 65% of all subjects and a minimum of 65% for the research project at the honours level OR a minimum average of 65% of all subjects at the Postgraduate diploma and a minimum of 65% for the research project.
  • A minimum of 65% at the masters’ level and preferably a masters by full thesis, for doctoral applications.

Your compliance with the minimum result requirements does not guarantee automatic acceptance of your application, which will be considered in the full context of all evaluation factors specified above.


The process

Herewith the process that needs to be followed to register.

Stage 1:

You will first need to register on the Rhodes On-Line Students System (ROSS) at

A guidelines document on how to register can be found at ROSS Registration Guide.

Stage 2:

Once registered on ROSS, you will need to complete the online registration form that is available at On the webpage, scroll down until you find the application forms for Masters and PhDs.

Stage 3:

In addition to the online registration form, submit all the required information and documentation as indicated on the online application link and as outlined below.

  1. Provide a short preliminary research proposal (3 to 5 pages) outlining the intended research area (using this Research Proposal Template). Also indicate your familiarity with the research methods and techniques; your familiarity with the research context (i.e. where the field work would be done); and your relationship with the research context and the likelihood of you being able to access the required data.
  2. Provide a letter of motivation in which you identify your proposed supervisor or supervisors, and explain why your proposed work might be of interest to them. (Note: Even for master's level applicants, it is important that your research is generally aligned with the research areas supported by academic staff in the department.)
  1. With regard to more practical matters, all applicants should also indicate the following in the letter of motivation:
  2. why you would like to study in the Department of Management at Rhodes University
  3. whether you will be in attendance or not and whether you intend to study full time or part time
  4. your proximity to Grahamstown over the period of registration, and the likelihood of you being able to attend research meetings with supervisor(s) at least twice a year;
  5. the number of years within which you intend to complete;
  6. how you intend to fund your studies; and
  7. the contact details of 3 academic references (one of which must be a current or past supervisor) indicating: name, title, university, phone, email, and relationship.
  1. A copy of your curriculum vitae which includes any publications and/or relevant work-related activities.
  2. Certified copies of your full official academic transcripts reflecting the detailed results, including percentage marks, of all previous qualifications and the award of degree(s). If percentage marks are not shown on the transcript, provide an interpretation of the results. Copies of degree certificates do NOT constitute an academic transcript. Non-South African (foreign) qualifications need to be verified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).  Please apply online to SAQA ( for the verification process.
  1. A copy of or access link to your most recent research work (usually an Honours research report if applying for Masters studies, or a copy of your Master’s thesis if applying for PhD studies).


Your application will not be considered until ALL the required information has been provided.

Note that the closing date for new applications is 1 May and registrations closes on 1 June of each year.   Furthermore, the Department of Management will process applications during the months of April/May and October/November of each year.  Your application will be evaluated in the context of all other current applications on the basis of your academic record, evidence of research ability, your preliminary research proposal, letter of motivation and the availability of supervisory capacity within your area of interest.  A potential supervisor may also contact you directly to further explore your research interests or available research projects.

Successful applicants are expected to make their own arrangements with regards to funding in respect of academic fees, accommodation, subsistence and travel. The Department of Management does not fund post-graduate studies. For all queries on funding please contact the Research Office for post graduate funding opportunities at

Last Modified: Thu, 29 Jul 2021 16:00:31 SAST