Master's & doctoral degrees

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science

Closing date for applications for admission to master's and doctoral qualifications for 2024 academic year (some exceptions apply) extended to 31 January 2024.

Qualification code: 98803
Qualification type: Full Research
NQF level: 10
Total credits: 360
SAQA ID: 111076

Admission requirements

An appropriate master's degree in Computer Science or Computing with an average of 60% or an equivalent with an average of 60%.
All students with foreign qualifications, including those with qualifications from African countries, must have their qualifications evaluated at SAQA. (
Applicants must first contact the relevant academic department and the potential supervisor. Topics and supervisors appear in the CSET M&D admissions policy document. Acceptance is based on viability of the intended research and available supervisory capacity. Competitive positions are filled on the basis of an approved selection procedure aligned with Unisa's policies on equality and diversity. Applicants need to demonstrate adequate mastery of academic English (TOEFL minimum score of 88 for the Internet-based test or a minimum score of 570 for the paper-based test or completion of prior degrees at a university where English is the prime language of instruction). Residency requirements apply for applicants who need to do laboratory work. Applicants with degree structures that are different from South African degrees or with applicable experience that may be relevant for admission will be required to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Time limits for this degree

All master's and doctoral qualifications are structured over a defined period. Refer to sections 4.12 and 4.13 in the Procedures for master’s and doctoral degrees.

A student registered for a research doctoral programme must complete the study programme within six years. A student may make application to the Registrar for one additional year of study who will only consider the application if it is recommended by the Executive Dean of the College in which the student is registered.

Doctoral degree

A doctoral degree will require you to undertake research at the most advanced academic levels culminating in the submission, assessment and acceptance of a thesis. Coursework may be required as preparation or value addition to the research, but does not contribute to the credit value of the qualification. The defining characteristic of this qualification is that you will be required to demonstrate high-level research capability and make a significant and original academic contribution at the frontiers of the discipline or field. This work must be of a quality to satisfy peer review and merit publication.

Research focus areas

Click here to view a list of departments and research focus areas for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Research outline

Unisa’s admission policy has changed and you are now required to submit a detailed research outline for the qualification for which you apply. No application submitted without a detailed research outline will be considered. Although this research outline may differ for each qualification or academic department, the basic information required is as follows:

  • Title
  • Summary of topic
  • Short literature review
  • Expected contribution of the study
  • Methodology to be followed
  • Availability of the data
  • List of references
  • Reasons why you are interested in the topic

Click here for the guidelines on how to prepare a research outline. 

Plagiarism of any form is unacceptable. Please take note of Unisa's Policy for Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism.

Student fees and funding your studies

Application fee

Pay the online application fee of R135,00 once you have received your Unisa student number.

Please note: 

  • The application fee is non-refundable even if you decide not to study through Unisa or do not qualify for admission to Unisa.
  • Use the student number you receive from Unisa AND the application fee reference number (eg STUDENTNUMBER 5370810030). 
  • Send your proof of payment to 
  • Visit for Unisa's payment methods and banking details. 

An application for a student number does not constitute an application for admission. After you receive your student number, you must still complete the online application for admission process and upload the compulsory supporting documents. 

Student fees

Click here for the 2023 student fee information. The fee information for the 2024 academic year will be available at the time of registration. 

Students registering for qualifications through the Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) should visit the SBL website for fee information, as the SBL uses a different fee structure.

Click here for student funding/bursary opportunities.

Apply for a student number and apply for admission

Applications for admission to master's and doctoral qualifications for the 2024 academic year will be open from 11 September to 14 November 2023 (some exceptions apply).

Click here to apply for a student number and apply for admission.

Please ensure that you apply for a Unisa student number (if applicable), apply for admission and upload all the supporting documents during the application period.

You have 10 working days to upload all the supporting documents during the application period. If you do not comply with this requirement, your application will be declined and you will have to re-apply for admission during the next application period.


Only students whose application for admission was approved and re-registering students (who made sufficient progress during the current academic year) will be allowed to register online within the approved registration period for the 2023 academic year. Students with outstanding fees or a Library block on their accounts, will not be able to register online until these issues have been resolved. No printed registration forms will be accepted.

Click here for registration information.