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What Qualifications Will You Need to Apply to our Program?

This is an interdisciplinary program.  Our typical applicant will have a research masters degree in Information Systems(IS), Commerce, Computer Science, Engineering, Social Science, Medicine, Law or fields related to National Development.  However,applicants with no IS background should read the note below on background carefully before they consider applying.  Under very exceptional circumstances,we will consider applicants with MBAs and others who have masters degrees without research components but a strong background in IS. 

How Long Will the Program Take?

The programme is by research only, meaning that the final assessment is solely based on the thesis.However, students are required to attend a six month non-credit-bearing course (INF6001W) on the Philosophy of the Social Sciences at the start of the PhD programme in early February. This course is typically made up of a 2-week full-time workshop, followed by monthly seminars, culminating in the delivery of a high-quality research proposal. Students will be allocated supervisors by the department at the end of the six month period once they have successfully submitted the proposal. Students are expected to present their proposal to the department by the end of the first year. Applicants with a strong background in IS will expect to take three or four years including the time to write the thesis.  Others can take up to seven years.Be prepared to hang in for the long haul.  However,given the investment required, consider your application seriously.

Application Procedure General Information

We take in approximately10 to 20 doctoral students per annum and aim to graduate 5 to 10 each year.  Hence there is some competition for spaces.  We are interested in maximising success and will scrutinise applications carefully and thus seek applicants who stand the greatest chance of succeeding in this program. We are reaching the maximum number of students we can supervise, but could accommodate an extra few candidates with the appropriate academic skills and exciting research ideas. Applications are considered throughout the academic year, but intakes are restricted to January, given the coursework component (INF6001W).

Research interests in the department

The academic staff in the department have wide ranging research interests. For more information see the Departmental website and the CITANDA website

Funding opportunities

Candidates are encouraged to source their own funding. The university has limited funding opportunities which are very competitive and the amounts are not sufficient to live on. These funding opportunities should be seen as a supplement and not as a main source of finance.

UCT Application

Applications to the PhD programme are centralised. Complete the UCT on-line application form and submit all required documents. Applicants will be required to provide among other things, their academic transcripts, high-level research proposal,evidence of their writing skills – this could be their Masters dissertation or academic papers they have authored.


Arranged by the department and generally takes place on the first introductory evening at the beginning for the academic year.

Important Notes on Background

An interdisciplinary program must be prepared to consider applicants from a variety of disciplines.However, this is an Information Systems program in a Faculty of Commerce. Thus applicants should have had either some experience in the IS field, or be strong user/champion/technological leaders. Some promising applicants with little IS background, but strong experience in business, commerce, or leadership positions in the NGO sector will be considered; however these individuals will be expected to take coursework in IS to fill in their backgrounds. All applications are treated individually and these sorts of challenges in terms of background are appropriate topics for discussion with the Course Convenor.