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Doctoral Programme (DBA/PhD)

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Enhancing business thought-leadership and best-practice in the context of a dynamic continental and global market.

With an urgent mandate for businesses across the African continent to address the unique opportunities and challenges that managers and leaders face in this unique environment, it is critical to continually develop new ways of thinking and approaches to problem-solving that are relevant to the context in which these businesses operate.   

The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Doctoral Programme is aimed at developing the required knowledge and business leadership skills that enable high-performing individuals to contribute to business thought-leadership that will drive growth on the African continent. As an ideal opportunity for senior professionals who are dedicated to contributing to the knowledge-base from which business decisions are made, scholars can play their part in shaping the future of business on the continent and in the global dynamic context.

The Doctoral Programme aims to help scholars find solutions to real-life challenges faced by businesses and their leaders by using a combination of in-depth research and practical application, underpinned by academic rigour and critical thinking. Learning methodologies are further entrenched in theories and models of practice.

The programme is designed to meet the needs of the mature, self-motivated scholar. It provides a blend of individual and peer interactive learning challenges that stretch and test scholars' potential. As an outcome, the successful learner will be equipped to create scientifically grounded knowledge and contribute to positive business results through intellectual leadership.

We look forward to welcoming you to be a part of this vibrant and growing community of scholars.

Professor Helena Barnard, Programme Director

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Doctoral Programme Webinar Information session 

The Doctoral programme office will host a webinar information session on 19 August 2019. This is an opportunity for interested people to learn more about the structure of the programme, and ask questions to get more clarity on the programme. Please sign up here.

Doctoral Programme PGDip (Business Studies)
28 January – 1 February 2019
28 January – 1 February 2019
25-29 March 2019
25-29 March 2019
20-24 May 2019
20-24 May 2019
22-26 July 2019
22-26 July 2019
7-11 October 2019
30 September - 4 October 2019
25-29 November 2019

On-campus seminar blocks (2020)

Doctoral Programme PGDip (Business Studies)
27-31 January 2020
27-31 January 2020
23-27 March 2020
23-27 March 2020
18-22 May 2020
18-22 May 2020
13-17 July 2020
13-17 July 2020
29 September - 2 October 2020
14-17 September 2020
23-27 November 2020

Doctoral Programme Qualifications

GIBS Doctoral Programme offers three qualifications: DBA, PhD and PG Dip (Business Studies). Note that the PG Dip programme is not the same as the PG Dip in General Management which feeds into the MBA programme. 

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Programme Outline

​​The programme is divided into two phases. The first phase involves the preparation and defence of a proposal within the first year, and the second comprises ethics clearance, data gathering and writing up the thesis over the following two years. For students who lack a research background and whose proposal is not yet well enough developed to allow them to successfully defend within a year, we offer a 9-month Postgraduate Diploma in Business Studies that allows individuals to develop the skills to understand a focused area in business, as well as the theoretical and methodological components of the knowledge base in management and business.

Requirements for admission to the doctoral degree include the following:
  • An MBA degree or a Master's degree from a recognised tertiary institution in a related field (e.g. Statistics, Psychology, Economics, etc.);

  • Familiarity with basic statistics;

  • A compelling 20-page research proposal if you are applying for the Doctoral Programme. If your proposal is not sufficiently well developed, the Doctoral Office will recommend that you enrol for the PG Dip (Business Studies);

  • A compelling 10-page research proposal if you are applying for the PG Dip (Business Studies);

  • Two short application essays (Doctoral Programme Application essays 2020.pdf)

  • References from two referees, completed by 16 October 2019; and

  • GIBS admissions test or a recent GMAT result (since 2015). 

For non-South African residents who apply for admission, please note the following requirements:

  • A study permit is required for registration at the University of Pretoria. Please enquire at the International Office, University of Pretoria at or +27 12 420 6610; and
  • SAQA accreditation is required if your academic qualifications are awarded from an institution outside of South Africa. Please go to the following website to apply:

We will sele​ct students:

  • Who best meet the academic criteria above and for whom we have supervisory capacity;
  • Whose proposed research best meet the strategic orientation of the programme – to better understand the challenges of management and business in such an underdeveloped, but dynamic context as Africa; and
  • Who are most likely to contribute to the intellectual life of the cohort through a combination of rigorous thinking and intellectual generosity.
Please note that doctoral study is not for everyone and it is important that you assess yourself against the profile given in the Application Checklist. 

Fees and Regulations

The fees for the doctorate at GIBS are calculated per year. For 2019, the full registration and tuition fees for both the Doctoral Programme and the PG Dip will be R48 300. These fees cover all tuition, materials, catering and use of facilities at GIBS for the year. ​

Application fee: R3 300 (non-refundable; payable upon application submission)

Acceptance fee: R5 000 payable upon acceptance onto the programme, offset against the cost of tuition.


  •  GIBS does not charge VAT on tuition fees. 
  • Applicants who are unable to write the admission test in Johannesburg can book a private, one-on-one session in their chosen location (or via Skype). In such cases, the application fee increases to R5 800.
All costs associated with attending courses at GIBS, fieldwork, research-related travel, special software or equipment required for purposes of research, as well as printing and binding of the thesis will be for the student's own account.​

Applications 2020

Applications for the 2020 intake will open on 1 July 2019 and close on 16 October 2019. Applicants will be required to pay an application fee and write the GIBS Entrance test. 

GIBS Entrance Test 

The GIBS entrance test can be written on the following dates. Please contact the Doctoral Programme office to book.

24 June 2019

18 July 2019

29 July 2019

15 August 2019

27 August 2019

06 September 2019

12 September 2019

20 September 2019

01 October 2019

11 October 2019

18 October 2019

If you are unable to write on these dates, please contact the Doctoral office at to arrange for one-on-one testing.  Note that this will incur additional cost.

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Who should apply?

Do you enjoy pushing the boundaries of current accepted knowledge? A doctoral student is a career-focused candidate who enjoys research and is looking to develop knowledge in their field.

How you will benefit

The successful doctoral candidate will be equipped to create scientifi​cally grounded knowledge and contribute to positive business results through intellectual leadership.

  • The PhD is intended for those who are considering an academic career, and

  • The DBA for those who want to work as a consultant​.​

Additional information

​Please contact for additional information on:

Fees and Cancellation Policy;

Contact Sessions; and

Application Checklist

Cancellation Policy:


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