Research degree completion rates

Steady upward trend in doctoral-degree completions per academic

There were 26 doctoral-degree completions per 100 academic staff at universities in 2017.  Compared to 2002, the number is now three times higher.

Date Updated: December 2018

Indicator Description

The number of doctoral degrees completed at universities per 100 full-time equivalent academic staff member.

Doctoral-degree completions per academic increase in 2017

From 2016 to 2017, the number of doctoral-degree graduates per 100 full-time equivalent academic staff at universities increased from 22 to 26. This was a result of both an increase in students completing doctoral degrees and a decrease in full-time equivalent staff. The ratio of doctoral-degree graduates to university academic staff has generally increased from 2007 to 2017.  See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Number of doctoral degrees completed per 100 full-time equivalent academic staff at universities

Source: Ministry of Education.

The 2017 figure is three times the 2002 rate of 8.7 graduates per 100 full-time equivalent academic staff member.  From 2008 to 2014 there has been a steeper yearly increase in doctoral-degree completions per academic.

In part, this was due to a change that treats new international doctoral students as domestic students paying domestic student fees.  This has made studying in New Zealand a more attractive option.

Note that the completing of these longer qualifications tends to be lumpy, which can lead to some extra variability in the number of students completing from year to year.

The number of doctoral-degree completions increased from 650 in 2007 to 1,495 in 2017. The five most common broad areas of study for doctoral degrees completed in 2017 were:

  • natural and physical sciences (25 percent),
  • society and culture (23 percent),
  • health (15 percent),
  • engineering and related technologies (13 percent), and  management and commerce (8.0 percent).

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