Information for doctoral students

This advice has been provided by the Graduate Research School as general advice for currently enrolled PhD, DClinPsych, DSW and EdD students, and individuals who have an offer of place for a doctoral programme at Massey University.

Please discuss your specific research with your supervisory team and/or postgraduate coordinator in your school or research centre. If you are a research student enrolled in a Master’s thesis or Honours degree research of 90 credits or more, you should discuss your research with your supervisor(s) and/or postgraduate coordinator in your school or research centre.

New doctoral candidates

I have an offer of place for a doctoral degree at one of Massey’s campuses in New Zealand. Can I enrol and begin studying from home?

Yes. You need to discuss and plan your enrolment date with your supervisor(s). Each application for enrolment off campus, whether you are based in New Zealand or overseas, will be assessed individually. Enrolments commencing offshore should be accompanied by an application to commence doctoral studies offshore which outlines important contact information, supervision arrangements and study plans.

I am unable to travel to New Zealand to commence my studies because of travel restrictions and border closures. Can I defer my studies, and will my offer of place be extended? 

Yes, you can defer your studies, and according to current advice from Immigration New Zealand, your visa will remain valid over this period. You need to inform the Graduate Research School and your supervisor(s) of your intention to defer study so your file can be updated with this information.  Your offer of place will be extended until such time that you can commence studies in New Zealand. We recommend that you not make any plans to travel at this stage. You will need to remain in communication with your supervisor(s) regarding your intended date of travel and commencement of studies.

Currently enrolled doctoral candidates

Suspensions and Extensions

My research and/or timeline has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. What can I do?

Discuss your research plans with your supervisory team to determine the significance of the impact. There may be contingency plans you can put in place or you may need to modify your original research plans. You may pursue other aspects of your research from home, like reviewing literature, analysing data or writing up results from earlier work.

If the disruptions to your research are severe and likely to be sustained over a long period of time, discuss an application for a suspension of studies which you can apply for online through the portal. 

If your research completion is expected soon and likely to be delayed, discuss an application for an extension which you can apply for online through the portal.  If an extension is required due to COVID-19, this will not impact upon eligibility for the Dean’s List of Exceptional Theses. We will favourably consider applications for suspensions and extensions from candidates whose work is delayed or disrupted by COVID-19 and understand the issues that may lead to these decisions.

My research involves seasonal data and fieldwork and my research could now be delayed by several months to up to a year. Should I apply now for an extension of studies?

You need to work with your supervisors to assess the impact and reshape the project if needed. We will be flexible and responsive to individual students’ situations, but you may not need to apply for an extension immediately. If your research completion is expected soon and likely to be delayed, discuss an application for an extension which you can apply for online through the portal.  If an extension is required due to COVID-19, this will not impact upon eligibility for the Dean’s List of Exceptional Theses.

Will the University automatically grant extensions to all students for this lost time? 

No, this is very unlikely. Students will be impacted in different ways, and all students may apply for up to 12 months of extension time, considered on a case-by-case basis. For students whose research is directly impacted by COVID-19, we will look favourably upon your applications for extensions, but it may be too soon to know the full impact. We would encourage you to apply for extensions only as a last resort.

I would like to change to part-time enrolment from full-time studies (or visa-versa). Is this a good idea and how do I do this?

Discuss this with your supervisor(s) to determine if this is a good option for you at this time. If you decide that changing your enrolment status is appropriate, you can apply for a change to candidacy through the student portal.

Scholarships and Funding

My research is funded through a Massey University Doctoral Scholarship. Will I continue to receive my scholarship, despite any delays or disruptions to my research?

Yes, as a Massey scholarship student you will continue to receive payments as expected, unless a suspension is taken.

Will the University offer extensions to Massey University Doctoral Scholarships for students whose research has been impacted by COVID19?

If you are on a Massey University Doctoral Scholarship, and your research is substantially impacted this year, we recognise that you may require financial support beyond the tenure of your scholarship. Scholarship holders who are completing their scholarship in 2020 are being invited to submit an application for a two-month scholarship extension. The scholarship extensions are limited to those who have experienced significant research disruptions due to COVID 19 and applications are made in the final month of the scholarship. Therefore, we strongly recommend you work with your supervisors to re-scope the project where possible so as to complete your research in a timely fashion (three years).

I have a Massey University Doctoral Scholarship and I am applying for a suspension from studies, will my scholarship stipend continue during my suspension?

No, stipends are only paid when students are fully enrolled. When you are on suspension, you will lose access to all university facilities, including supervision, so we suggest you discuss this option very carefully with your supervisors to make sure this is the best choice. All doctoral students are eligible for some leave each year, and that might be another option to consider. We would discourage you from applying for a suspension too quickly in this evolving, dynamic situation.

I have a Massey University Doctoral Scholarship for full-time study and I would like to change my enrolment to part-time study. Can I continue with my scholarship?

If you and your supervisor(s) agree that part-time study is a good option for you, you may be considered for a change of enrolment and continue your scholarship at a lower monthly payment rate as a part-time student. Please contact our scholarships team who can advise you.

My research is funded by my supervisor’s external research funding grant. Will I continue to receive my stipend?

If you are funded by an external research grant, you need to discuss possible impacts with your supervisor. Please do not contact the funding agency directly. If you are impacted, please feel free to email the Graduate Research School and we will work to support you through this situation.

I am on a scholarship from an overseas organisation and I am unable to obtain my scholarship funding due to restrictions and lockdowns. What do I do?

Please email the Graduate Research School and we will work to support you through this situation. We understand this can be unsettling and we will work with International Student Support to support you and explore possible solutions.

Research Overseas

I was planning to conduct research overseas for my thesis. What should I do?

Travel is prohibited at this time, the University advises that no international travel should proceed until further notice. Talk with your supervisors about how you might postpone this travel or re-scope the project.

I am overseas on research leave and cannot return to New Zealand. What should I do?

Please ensure that the Graduate Research School knows that you are overseas by contacting us immediately by email. Work with your supervisor to submit an updated notification to study offshore which can be completed in the student portal and outlines important contact information, supervision arrangements and study plans.

Progressing and Completing Studies

My confirmation event is due soon, what do I do?

You may choose to defer your event, but to ensure a timely completion of your research, we strongly encourage you to have a videoconferenced confirmation. Talk with your supervisor(s) and postgraduate coordinator about how this might work for you. Guidelines have been developed to assist you in achieving this important milestone online.

I have received notification to complete my 6-monthly progress report. Do I really need to do this now?

The 6-monthly reports are designed for reflection on progress and forward planning. You need to do complete this process with their supervisory team. These reports are critical in helping the Graduate Research School understand the situation and assess the impact. We urge you to work with your supervisors to complete these reports, especially highlighting possible delays and alternative solutions  to ensure student completion. There is also a confidential comment that can be made directly to the Dean where you can share any specific challenges you may face in your doctoral studies.

What support is available for writing and researcher learning and development?

We are offering our workshops and programmes online. Details are found in the doctoral Stream site. Many activities are also shared via social media (Facebook and Twitter) in different student-led Facebook groups (PhD Massey University Palmerston North, Massey University Auckland PhD Students, and Doctoral Garden Manawatu). If you have suggestions for other ways to stay connected, please contact our Graduate Learning and Development Facilitator and Scholar Development Coordinator.

My research involves survey and interview research that my supervisor and I think we can move to online platforms. Is this advisable?

Online surveys and online interview-based research may continue or be commenced, though consideration should be given to the circumstances and challenges that research participants may be facing at this time. For some projects, moving some interview-based research online may be quite straightforward, but for other research projects, it may not be so easy. It is over to you and your supervisor’s judgement and discretion as to if you should continue with online surveys and research. Please note that if you are changing your methodology for a study that has Massey University Human Ethics Committee approval, you should notify the Ethics Team.

I am preparing an ethics application for my research. Should I go ahead and submit my application by the deadlines on the website?

If you are submitting a low-risk notification, then go ahead and do so. Just be certain that your research can continue in the current situation, as planned, by discussing with your supervisors. Full applications for human and animal ethics are being accepted, but there may be delays. Again, be certain that the application you submit reflects research that can be conducted at this time. Some adjustments and changes may be required, or you may need to defer your application for a while.


I have submitted (or will soon submit) my thesis for examination. Will my oral examination be delayed?

Your examination may be delayed slightly due to changes in working conditions and the impact of COVID-19 on examiners worldwide, but the University has approved the use of videoconferencing for oral examination in an effort to prevent unnecessary delays. Examinations may be convened via videoconference.

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