Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

  • Important Note: Visit NIE Postgraduate Fair 2016: Learning Differently, Leading Change on 29 May 2016 at Suntec Exhibition & Convention Centre! Click here for more information.

    We offer higher degree studies by research leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in line with the increasing emphasis on research in the areas of Humanities, Education, Sciences and Physical Education.

    Applicants reading the degree of PhD by research will pursue an independent but supervised research in an approved field of advanced study based on which a thesis should be between 70,000 to 100,000 words must be submitted. A PhD thesis written in the Chinese language should not exceed 200,000 Chinese characters. The award of the research degree is based entirely on the work presented in the thesis.

  • A Bachelor's degree with honours at least at Second Class Upper level, Master's degree in the relevant areas and the ability to pursue research in the candidate's proposed field of advanced study.

    Shortlisted applicants will undergo an interview session as part of the selection process.

    Local applicants whose first degree is from a foreign university may be asked to provide a GRE score on a case-by-case basis. For international applicants, more information on the entry requirements can be found here.

  • A rigorous system is used to prepare the candidates into the research phase. In the initial stage of the PhD study, the candidates are required to pass a Qualifying Examination.

    Full-time candidates

    In the first 12 months of study, you will be required to complete the Qualifying Examination requirements as indicated in (i) and (ii) below:

    1. Attend classes and pass the examinations of
      • 4 graduate level courses chosen from the University's Master-degree coursework programmes or from approved special topic courses and
      • obtain an overall average Grade B, and no course should have a Grade below C+
    2. Submit an in-depth literature review of an approved research topic

    Part-time candidates

    In the first 24 months of study, you will be required to complete the Qualifying Examination requirements as indicated in (i) and (ii) above.

    Exemption of courses

    Exemption of courses may be granted by the Dean if you are deemed to have already done sufficient coursework in the relevant area in a graduate level programme at a recognised university. You would have to complete a minimum of three courses after allowing for exemptions.

    pdf-thumbnail Download the full list of special topic courses

  • You will have to undergo a Confirmation Exercise if you are admitted as a Research Student in the first instance in order to be confirmed as a PhD candidate. The exercise will take place about 6 to 12 months after the Qualifying Examination.

    For the Confirmation Exercise, you will have to submit a progress report on your research work as well as present and pass a confirmation seminar.

  • In addition to being examined on the thesis, you must also pass an oral examination on the subject matter of your thesis and other related subjects. This is normally conducted at the final stage of the PhD study.

    Your candidature may be terminated at any time if your progress has been deemed unsatisfactory by the University.

    Copies of the NIE research degree theses and dissertations are available from its library. More details can be found here.

  • Arts and Humanities
    1. English Language
    2. English Literature
      • Literature Pedagogy
      • Comparative Literature/Post-colonial Literature/Contemporary Literature
    3. Chinese/Malay/Tamil Language and Literature
    4. History
    5. History Education
    6. Geography
    7. Geography Education
    8. Social Studies Education
    9. Social Sciences
    10. Music
    11. Art
    12. Drama and Performance
      • Issues in Drama in Education
      • Emergent Asian Theatre Forms and Training
      • New Approaches to Shakespeare Production

    1. Educational Psychology
    2. Counselling Psychology
    3. Sociology of Education
    4. History of Education
    5. Special Needs Education
    6. Educational Measurement and Evaluation
    7. Multimedia and Information Technology
    8. Curriculum and Teaching
    9. School/Educational Management
    10. High Ability Studies
    11. Early Childhood Education
    12. Educational Management
    13. New Literacies, Multi-Literacies and Digital Literacies
    14. The Role of Disciplinarity, Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity
    15. Cognitive-Developmental Psychology

    1. Biological Sciences
      • Botany
      • Zoology
      • Molecular Biology
      • Agrotechnology
      • Biotechnology
      • Environmental Science
      • Biology Education
    2. Chemistry
      • Natural Products Chemistry
      • Polymer and Surfactant Chemistry
      • Organometallic Chemistry
      • Analytical and Environmental Chemistry
      • Materials Science
      • Chemistry Education
    3. Physics
      • Plasma Radiation and Microlithography
      • RF Plasmas and Materials
      • Laser-materials Interactive
      • Laser-based Biophysics
      • Computational Science
      • Physics Education
    4. Mathematics
      • Algebra
      • Analysis
      • Graph Theory
      • Mathematics Education
      • Mathematical Modelling
      • Operations Research
      • Topology
      • Statistics
    Physical Education
    1. Sport Sciences
      • Exercise Physiology
      • Motor Learning
      • Biomechanics
    2. Sport Studies
      • Exercise/Sports Psychology
      • Sociocultural Studies of Sport
      • Sports History
      • Sports Management
    3. Sports Pedagogy
      • Curriculum Theory in Physical Education
      • Instructional Processes in Physical Education
      • Teacher Knowledge and Development in Physical Education

    Important note for matriculated students: 
    Please refer to the ISAAC system for the programme structure relevant to your intake during Course Registration or consult your programme leader if you need clarifications.

  • The degree of PhD by research is offered on both full-time and part-time basis. The candidature periods are as follows:


    Up to a maximum of 5 years


    Up to a maximum of 7 years

  • Our tuition fees are subject to revision on a yearly basis. More details can be found here.

  • There are two intakes a year (January and August), except for the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Academic Group which accept only one intake of PhD students each year in January. The online application generally opens in May for admission in January in the following year and in October for admission in August the following year. Applicants are advised to visit the website and look out for announcements in May and October.

    Applications may be made online.

    More information on required documents for application can be found here.

    Depending on the area of research that you are interested in, you are advised to browse through the various Academic Groups’ webpages to seek your own supervisor prior to application. Prior to application, you may also contact the appropriate research programme coordinator or coordinators listed here.

  • We offer research scholarships to applicants with outstanding academic records to enable you to pursue your studies by research on a full-time basis. If you intend to apply for a research scholarship, please apply for admission to August intakes.

    More details can be found here.

  • To view, please click here.
  • “I am grateful to my supervisors Professor John Wang Chee Keng for his superb supervision and mentorship throughout my PhD candidature. After the initial phase of effective supervision, I was encouraged and given space to conduct original, independent research. The specialized elective courses taken during the coursework deepened my understanding of theories and practices in a number of chosen fields relevant to my research. Furthermore, the regular discussion sessions held by the research interest group at PESS AG were most helpful in enabling me to complete my PhD research.”

    Dr Eugene Chew Wai Cheong
    Assistant Professor at the Physical Education & Sports Science
    Academic Group (PESS AG), NIE
    PhD student at NIE from 2008 to 2011

    “I feel myself bless to conduct my PhD research at NIE. I am most impressed with NIE’s research culture that encourages higher degree students to publish their research and to present their research in international conferences, seminars, and workshops. I discovered several new marine natural products and published seven papers in peer-reviewed high impact factor international journals, one book chapter, and five conference papers during my PhD candidature. My sound training under the exemplary supervision of Assistant Profressor Tan Lik Tong and solid performance at NIE had laid the foundation for me to become a qualified researcher and enabled me to secure a postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan, one of the world’s leading universities.”

    Dr Ashootosh Tripathi
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan, USA

    “I appreciated the opportunity to present my research creatively and with visual impact in the Post Competition of the NIE Graduate Student Day to fellow students and faculty. The faculty judges were wonderfully assuring and insightful with their questions and feedback.”

    Ms Gissella Lebron
    (Current PhD student at NIE)

    • E-mail:
      Tel: 6592 8208
      (for issues such as admissions and application)

    • List of Programme Leaders (for specific academic issues relating to the programme)

    Programme Programme Leader
    Asian Language and Cultures Chinese Language: 
    Dr CHOONG Kok Weng
    Malay Language: 
    A/P Roksana Bibi Bte ABDULLAH
    Tamil Language: 
    A/P Sivakumaran s/o RAMALINGAM
    Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice Dr CHAN Chee Yeen Melvin
    Curriculum and Teaching A/P DENG Zongyi
    Education and Cognitive Development Laboratory Dr Alfredo BAUTISTA ARELLANO
    Early Childhood and Special Education Early Childhood: 
    A/P TAN Ai Girl
    Special Education: 
    A/P TAN Ai Girl
    High Ability Studies: 
    Asst/P BACSAL Rhoda Myra Garces
    English Language and Literature A/P HU Guangwei
    Humanities and Social Studies Education A/P WANG Zhenping
    Asst/P DAS Diganta Kumar
    Learning Sciences Laboratory Dr WONG Lung Hsiang
    Learning Sciences and Technologies A/P CHAI Ching Sing
    Mathematics and Mathematics Education Maths Education: 
    A/P NG Swee Fon
    A/P ZHAO Dongsheng
    Natural Sciences and Sciences Education A/P Rajdeep Singh Rawat
    Physical Education and Sports Sciences Asst/P KEE Ying Hwa
    Policy and Leadership Studies Asst/P CHUA Siew Kheng Catherine
    Psychological Studies Dr DUTT Anuradha Salil Kumar
    Visual and Performing Arts Art: 
    Mr LINCOLN Paul Benedict
    Asst/P WALES Prudence Elle