Doctoral Programme: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility requirements?

You will need a minimum of an upper second class (2.1) honours degree from a UK university or equivalent overseas.  You will also need to have completed or be studying for a specialist Masters degree in a subject directly related to your proposed area of research. We would expect a good mark overall in the specialist Masters degree and evidence of high achievement (ideally a distinction) in the associated dissertation.

Am I eligible to apply for the PhD in Finance?

Admission to our PhD in Finance is extremely competitive and attracts international applications of the highest calibre.  Students who tend to be successful in gaining admission to our PhD in Finance are high achieving students in a finance-related MSc programme at an institution equivalent to Warwick. We would normally require a Masters in Economics or Finance but may consider a Masters in Accounting and Finance or Financial Mathematics with a significant Finance component.

We tend to receive over 100 applications for fewer than 10 vacancies every year.  As a result, even someone with a good first degree and good masters degree may not necessarily be accepted onto the Programme. 

Can I apply to the Doctoral Programme without a specialist Masters qualification?

We normally expect all applicants to hold a relevant specialist Master’s degree in order to be considered for our Doctoral Programme.  You may wish to consider one of the specialist Masters degrees offered by WBS - find out more.

Please note that entry on to a specialist Masters degree at WBS will not guarantee a place on our Doctoral Programme. A separate decision would be made regarding entrance to the PhD programme once you are completing or in the process of completing your specialist Masters degree.

Can I apply to the programme if I have an MBA?

We normally expect all applicants to hold a relevant specialist Master’s degree in order to be considered for our Doctoral Programme.

If you do not hold a specialist Masters degree in addition to your MBA, you have two options:

  1. You can make a special case, with the support of your prospective WBS supervisor, outlining the relevance of your MBA to your proposed research area (the project or dissertation for example may be relevant to your proposed PhD research topic). The case will then be considered by the Associate Dean for the Doctoral Programme who will decide whether your MBA and any other relevant research or work experience is sufficient to meet our eligibility criteria. Find details on our academic staff. Please note that this option is not open to applicants for the PhD in Finance programme.
  2. You can undertake a specialist Masters degree and then re-apply to the Doctoral Programme. You may wish to consider one of the specialist Masters degrees offered by WBS - find out more about Postgraduate study. Please note that entry on to a Specialist Masters degree at WBS will not guarantee a place on our Doctoral Programme. A separate decision would be made regarding entrance to the PhD programme once you are completing or in the process of completing your specialist Masters degree.

Will I have to take an English language test?

A good command of English is clearly important for study at the M.Phil./PhD level, regardless of the research area.

If your specialist Masters degree is from the UK or other majority English-speaking country, you are not required to submit proof of proficiency in English so long as you have completed your Masters course within two years of the proposed start date of your doctoral degree, although language competence is still a requirement.  Otherwise, you are required to have achieved

How do I apply to the Doctoral Programme?

First you need to write your research proposal.  Advice about this can be found here.

You should then complete an online application making sure that the research proposal is the main document that you upload in the first instance.

If you have discussed your application with a prospective supervisor, please include the name of the suggested supervisor on the application form. If you are also applying for a scholarship please indicate this in the appropriate part of the online form.

The supporting documentation should be supplied electronically, using the uploading facility within two weeks of making the application.

The supporting documentation required for upload to your online application comprises:

Your application will not be considered without full supporting documentation.

If you need to send hard copies of any documentation they should be sent to:

PG Team 5
The Postgraduate Admissions Team
Student Admissions and Recruitment Office
The University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 8UW

Telephone: +44 (0)24 765 24585

If you meet our eligibility criteria and we can find a suitable match with a potential supervisor, you will be contacted for a face-to-face or telephone interview

How do I find a potential supervisor?

There are many academic subject groups at Warwick Business School. Once you have identified the most appropriate research group and prospective supervisor(s) for your proposed research you are strongly advised to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your application.

You do not need to have secured a potential supervisor’s confirmation of supervision before applying, but it helps a student’s application if a supervisor has already indicated some level of interest in the research project.

If you are unable to contact a member of academic staff, you can still apply for entrance. We will search for an appropriate supervisor for you.

In some cases we are unable to supervise research projects because we do not have the required expertise, or a member of academic staff is already at the permitted limit of research students.

What should I put in my research proposal?

Your research proposal should provide approximately 2,000 words, plus your timetable and references or a short bibliography. Further advice about writing your research proposal can be found here.

Can I study for my PhD as a part-time student?

It is possible to study for our main Doctoral Programme part time, but you would need to be available to attend the compulsory taught Research Training Programme in the first three terms of the first academic year.  Your application to study part-time would also need to be supported by your prospective supervisor. In order to be considered for part-time study, you must be resident  and working in the UK. There is no option to register for the PhD in Finance on a part-time basis.

Can I be resident overseas?

No, you will be expected to be resident in the UK for the duration of your doctoral studies here at Warwick Business School. You are of course allowed to make overseas visits in order to attend conferences, training, and also to undertake fieldwork which are relevant to your studies.

Do you offer a PhD by Distance Learning?

No, we do not offer our doctoral programme by distance learning. You can apply to study part time, but you would need to be resident and working in the UK, and there is a compulsory taught part of the programme which you must attend here at the Business School for the first two terms of the first year of registration.

What Funding opportunities are available?

There are a number of different funding opportunities available to you as a doctoral researcher at WBS and up to date information about funding opportunities can be found with our PhD Programme page.

Please note that, in most cases, you need to hold an offer of a place on our Doctoral Programme to be eligible for funding. We recommend early application. It is also helpful if on your application form you clearly state in the section regarding funding any scholarships for which you intend to apply.

For Home and EU students there is the opportunity to apply for ESRC funding.  Details of these awards including deadlines can be found here.

Can I join WBS as a Visiting Student?

Yes, WBS accepts visiting students.

Visiting Students can come to WBS for periods of up to one year, and in shorter periods such as one or more months. Common periods of attachment are three or six months.

Prospective visiting students need to complete the standard online application form. You will need to make contact with a prospective supervisor here at Warwick as they will need to agree to provide supervision for the duration of your visit.

The documentation that will be required for you to be accepted as a visiting student will be:

The fee structure for visiting postgraduate research students is:

You may find it helpful to visit the Warwick University’s International Office website.  Information and advice regarding applying for a visa for the duration of your studies here at Warwick can be found here. 

Can I apply for a DBA ?

We have a brand new Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) for senior executives.

Do you offer a joint PhD programme?

Warwick Business School does not currently offer a joint PhD programme.  However, you may like to consider applying to come as a visiting student as an alternative.  All applicants - including those applying as visiting students - need to complete the standard online application form.

You will need to make contact with a prospective supervisor here at WBS as they will need to agree to provide supervision for the duration of your visit.

The application documentation required is:

The fee structure for visiting postgraduate research students is:

What is the compulsory attendance requirement for the PhD Programme?

Both the main Doctoral Programme and the PhD in Finance require attendance at compulsory taught modules. Details of the current compulsory research training programme for the main Doctoral Programme and details of the PhD finance programme can also be found here. 

It is a requirement that all students attend and pass the compulsory taught modules before you can upgrade you registration from MPhil to PhD.

Are there any research topics for which supervisors are looking for students?

Find out about research topics for which academics are currently looking for students here.

What is the deadline for applications?

We do not operate a formal closing date for applications, but please note that our Doctoral Programme begins at the start of the academic year in October, and the majority of places are allocated between January and May in the year of admission. Generally, formal applications should be made by 30 June at the latest for entry in October of the same year. If you apply after this date, we will do our best to process your application, but there may not be the time needed, especially if you need a Visa. It is sometimes difficult to arrange supervision in the later summer months because academic staff will often be away from the University.

If you wish to apply for a scholarship, please note the applications deadlines are much earlier in the year. 


Can I apply for a MPhil degree?

All doctoral research students are initially registered for the MPhil programme and are later upgraded to PhD. This is the standard process at most UK universities.

Registration is upgraded from MPhil to PhD towards the end of Year 1 if a student passes the taught research training modules and the PhD upgrading presentation. Very occasionally a student may be advised to continue with MPhil registration if their circumstances change and they are unable to complete the PhD or if they fail the requirements for upgrading to PhD but do satisfy the requirements for continuing with MPhil.

Applying to transfer from another university.

We do not normally consider applications for transfer unless the student is transferring with a supervisor who is taking up an appointment at WBS.

If you are transferring to follow your supervisor, the process of transferring to Warwick is much the same as applying for entrance, with the additional work required for the agreement of project partners and funding body. There are three steps or parts of the transfer:

1) an online application (to satisfy the University and get on their records system)

2) sending information to WBS so we can check academic progress and issues such as upgrade, research training and any research ethics approval

3) support from your current institution, any funding body, and from any project or sponsoring partners that they are happy for the transfer.

Step 1: For the University
You will need to follow our guidance for students hoping to transfer here.

You also need to make an online application to get yourself on the University's records, upload an abstract and outline of your research accomplished on your thesis to date, and the work which needs to be accomplished. Perhaps two or three pages in length.

You will required to upload any supporting documents such as the transfer form and supply  your Master’s transcript and transcripts of any training/modules undertaken whilst studying for your PhD. Please submit the supporting documentation electronically using the upload facility.

As far as the references, a letter from your supervisor will be required by PG Admissions and WBS. This could be in the form of a supervisor's report on academic progress to date. You are also likely to be required to submit a second academic reference.

Step 2: For WBS
We also need to make sure that we as the receiving department are happy with the transfer. The Associate Dean for the Doctoral Programme will require copies of:

All other documents (including the transfer form) should be uploaded as supplementary  documents with your application form, using the link which will be sent to you by post graduate admissions after you have submitted your online application.

Your current institution’s PhD office should inform us of any financial arrangements such as fees from project partners, the amount spent from any  allowances such as the ESRC’s Research Training Support Grant, and how much of any maintenance payment has been paid.

This information should be sent by email to: .

Step 3: From Project Partners and Funding Body

WBS will write a letter to any funding body agreeing to the transfer as well.

The letters should be coordinated at your current institution. You should stay on their system of payments until the transfer of award has been approved and you have received an offer from Warwick. Once you have accepted the offer from Warwick and the transfer of award has been confirmed our scholarships office can arrange for payments to continue; the date for the transfer of any award and starting at Warwick must be the same.


Can I still apply for a PhD although my Specialist Master’s degree is unrelated to my proposed research area?

This does not preclude acceptance on the Doctoral Programme but needs to be accompanied by a convincing case of academic achievement/potential in the proposed area. You need to make a case making clear that you have sufficient specialist knowledge and can academically engage with the topic in your proposed area.

Can I be enrolled on another course whilst studying on the Doctoral Programme?

This is not possible. Warwick University will not allow a student to enrol on one of our courses if they are still studying for another course at another institution. You will need to provide proof  that you have either completed your course or have withdrawn your registration at your other institution.

This regulation applies also to short term programmes such as vocation qualifications such as accounting exams.

My Masters programme will not end until November, and I want to start in October?

In exceptional circumstances Warwick will allow you to enrol on the doctoral programme while you are in the final months of another Masters programme. The criteria is that all course work and examinations must have been finished and submitted by 1 October. If there is any work outstanding such as a dissertation to be submitted in late October or a re-sit to be undertaken on the Masters, you cannot start our programme until the following year.

This is because the first six months of the PhD programme has a mandatory, assessed and intensive Research Training Programme that all students, full and part time, must attend. Upgrade to PhD is dependent on successful completion of the research training and upgrade. If you cannot focus 100% on the research training and upgrade because of a delayed commitment to the Masters course, you should not start the PhD programme.

If, however, you are just awaiting the final Masters results with no further work commitment you can request a temporary enrolment at Warwick. This enrolment is conditional on you subsequently bringing in the Masters final transcript to Student Records when released and proving you have been awarded the degree . If you have not been awarded the degree or require a re-sit or further work, your Warwick registration would likely be suspended until the following year.

Can I start on the programme at another time of the year other than 1 October?

No, the doctoral programme has only one entry point for new students per year, and that is 1 October  in any academic year. New students cannot start at any other time.

This is because we require students to attend all of the compulsory research training programme, and this runs from the second week in October for two terms. Upgrade to PhD is dependent on successful completion of the research training, its two assignments and the upgrade review. Joining the programme mid-stream would mean that you would be at a significant disadvantage in completing the research training and assignments.

The only exception to this rule is if a student is currently a PhD student at another university and wishes to transfer to Warwick, has completed a research training programme which is quantifiably similar to our own, and has upgraded to PhD at the other institution (see FAQ on transferring to Warwick).

Can I start late?

Due to the taught compulsory research training programmes which start in Week 2 in October, we cannot accept students on the Business and management and the PhD in Finance programmes after the end of Week 2.

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