Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

  • The programme will be opened for the January 2022 intake. Application period is from 3 May – 30 July 2021. Click here for more details.

  • 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 not exceed 70,000 words for those on the Science specialisation, for those in other specialisations, the thesis should not exceed 100,000 words (including footnotes, but excluding appendices, references, maps, charts, statistical tables, graphs, illustrations, etc). A PhD thesis written in the Chinese language should not exceed 200,000 Chinese characters.

  • 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.

    A valid GRE score is required for applicants who are not graduates of the Autonomous Universities in Singapore. See detailed requirements for English language on competency and GRE requirements 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 18 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
    3. All Full-time PhD students are required to take HWG702- Small Group Teaching and HWG703 – Graduate English. Exemptions may be sought if students meet the exemption criteria. NIE Scholars must complete HWG702 and HWG703 before the PhD Confirmation Examination in order to receive the stipend increment. Non-scholars may complete their HWG702 and HWG703 requirement before the end of their candidature.
    4. All PhD students from the August 2019 intake onwards are to complete the Communications/Writing Training Programme as a graduation requirement. The programme consists of the following compulsory components:
      • SA830 Writing and Communication Skills for PhD Students
        • The course is graded as a Pass/Fail and will appear in the student’s transcript.
        • The course will not be counted towards the coursework requirements for graduation.
      • 3MT Presentation
        • Students must participate in a 3-minute thesis (3MT) presentation symposium before graduation. The 3MT symposia is co-organized by the Graduate Students Associate (GSA) and Graduate College (GC).

    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.

  • 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

    From AY2020, the candidature period will be revised as follows:


    Up to a maximum of 5 years


    Up to a maximum of 5 years

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

  • International students who choose to pay a lower tuition fee (and thus receive higher subsidy) will have to take up a 3-year service obligation. As part of the service obligation, the international student is required to work in Singapore-based companies upon graduation.

    Singapore-based companies refer to local companies and international companies that have a base in Singapore which is registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

    The duration of the service obligation is fixed at 3 years, regardless of the duration of study at subsidised rates.


    Graduate students who are applying for MOE-subsidised graduate degree (Research) are eligible to apply for the scheme. Eligible applicants are to receive subsidy up to the normal programme duration of their degree programmes.

    Please refer to the tuition fees document here.

    Students who had previously enjoyed MOE subsidy in a graduate degree will not be eligible for MOE subsidy in another graduate degree of the same or lower level.

    Application for service obligation is subject to the approval of MOE.

    Eligible students will indicate whether they would like to opt for the service obligation via the offer of admission package.

    Application and Signing Procedures

    For students enrolled in Semester 1 AY2021-2022 - Aug 2021 intake

    Online Registration with the Ministry of Education (MOE)

    One has to register online with MOE from 7 September to 13 September 2021. The process is as follows:

    • Go to the Ministry of Education (MOE) website.
    • Click on the “Student Login” option.
    • Have two sureties/guarantors (of any nationality). The guarantors must be aged 21 and above but below 65 and must not be an un-discharged bankrupt.
    • Sign the service obligation agreement to be put under the higher subsidy (and therefore pay a lower tuition fee) and serve a 3-year bond by working in a Singapore registered company upon graduation.

    Note: Please contact MOE at if you encounter any problem with the online registration at MOE's website.

    Details on the Signing of the Service Obligation Agreement (SOA)

    Tentative Procedures for Digital Signing

    1. Students will download their personalised SOA (MOE Pre-signed) from TGonline and send it to his sureties.
    2. Sureties will print the SOA and sign on Page 9 and send the signed SOA (Hard copy) together with a copy of the sureties' passport or government-issued identification card with photo to the student.
    3. Student will sign on Page 8 and Page 9 of the signed SOA (Hard copy) after receiving it from sureties.
    4. Student will write the date that he signed the SOA on Page 1 and Page 8.
    5. Student will scan the signed SOA together with the copy of sureties' passport or identification card as a PDF file using Microsoft Office Lens App.
    6. Student to name the scan documents (SO Agreement with sureties' identification documents) using their UIN number in the format NTUSO_SOA_<UIN>.pdf
    7. Student to send the PDF document to MOE by replying to the original mass e-mail using his/her NTU student e-mail account.
    8. Student to submit the original hardcopy signed SOA(s) together with the copy of sureties' passport documents to Office of Academic Administration and Services (OAAS).

    Note: The letter and guide will be provided nearer to the digital signing period.

    Date: 27 September 2021 to 8 October 2021
    Venue: SO Signing will be via digital SO Signing Portal.
    Email will be send in due course.
    Please check your NTU email regularly.

    Please note that there will only be one registration and signing session for the Service Obligation per intake.

    Contact Information

    For further enquiries about the Service Obligation Scheme, please refer to the MOE's website or contact MOE's Tuition Grant Unit at:

    Tuition Grant Section
    School Placement and Services Division
    Customer Service Centre (MOE Podium Block)
    Ministry of Education, Singapore
    1 North Buona Vista Drive
    Singapore 138675

  • There are two intakes a year (January and August). 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.

    Applicants who are currently working with sponsors, donors or financial institutions to fund their studies, are encouraged to submit their applications early to NIE so as not to miss out on our application period.

    Applications are to be made online. Click here to sign up for an ISAAC (Integrated Student and Academic Administration System) account to apply with us. For those with an existing account, login to apply.

    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 leader or leaders 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. More details can be found here

  • To view, please click here.
  • GPL Video

    NIE - the place to be for your learning journey

    Developing your passion into mastery with NIE

    Hear from our professor and students

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) experience by Dr Nai Yuan Ting

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) experience by Dr Aliamat Omar Ali

    Research Studies in NIE - A/P Rebecca Ang (PS)

    Research Studies in NIE - Matthew Wallace (ELL)

    Research Studies in NIE - Cheryl Chen (VPA)

    Research Studies in NIE - Cassim Munshi (CTL)

    Research Studies in NIE - Cheryl Tay (PESS)

    Research Studies in NIE - Professor Xu Shuyan (NSSE)

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) experience by Dr Ang Hak Seng, BBM

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) experience by Dr S.M.P Kalaiselvi

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) experience by Dr Paula Png

    Convocation 2017 - Valedictory Speech by Dr Bryan Tan from the PhD programme

    Sharing Session at NIE Postgraduate Fair 2016

    Programme highlights and sharing session by Physical Education and Sports Science (PESS) graduates

    Higher Degrees by Research in NSSE: Diversified avenues and challenging opportunities

    Doctoral Programmes: EdD and PhD by Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group

    Research projects in areas of Mathematics and Mathematics Education

    Higher Degrees in Early Childhood, High Ability Studies and Special Education

    Higher Degrees in Geography, History and Social Studies

    Empowering teaching, training and learning using technologies

    Embark on your learning journey with ELL

    Higher Degree programme and its impacts on Professional Development by Malay Division alumni

    For more sharing sessions videos taken at NIE Postgraduate Fair 2016, 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
    PhD student at NIE from 2010 to 2014

    “In January 2007, my husband and I started our PhD journey together. We were required to complete six courses in addition to the thesis. I especially liked the idea that we could choose any course offered by NIE/NTU. In preparation for my research in the area of critical classroom discourse, I have chosen to read discourse analysis and classroom discourse related courses offered by both Asian Languages and Cultures and English Language and Literature Academic Groups (AGs). The various backgrounds of lecturers from the two AGs had enriched my learning and deepened my understanding. It gave me the confidence and motivation to complete my PhD research. My subject mastery and research knowledge on classroom practices have contributed to the development of teachers’ proficiency in integrating ICT in their teaching of the Malay Language.”

    Dr Suryani Atan
    Senior Specialist, Technologies for Learning Branch, Educational Technology Division, Ministry of Education

    “I really appreciate that the NIE faculty members in our department regard graduate students as junior colleagues rather than as students. In our research and even in first-year coursework, we are given a great deal of intellectual freedom and independence to come up with new ideas and to chart our own directions.”

    Ms Becky Wong
    curent PhD student of Psychological Studies (PS) Academic Group and the Education and Cognitive Development Lab (ECDL)
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016 
      (click to read more)

    “The best interactions I had with NIE faculty members were with my supervisors (Associate Professor Liu Woon Chia and Professor John Wang), and, especially, with the previous Sub-Dean of the Office of Graduate Studies & Professional Learning (GPL), Dr Koh Chong Lek, during my PhD course. I am very grateful to Dr Koh as he made an effort to understand the difficulties that graduate students may face and his door was always open for us. He was a good mentor and he would listen to us despite his busy schedule.

    The PhD programme has equipped me with relevant skills and knowledge in becoming a researcher.”

    Dr Betsy Ng
    PhD graduate of Psychological Studies (PS) Academic Group
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016
      (click to read more)

    “I think NIE faculty members are knowledgeable and respectable. I’m also very lucky to know a few professors who are very generous and friendly. They care about students and provide great advice. I have received considerable assistance from them in my academic study and career advancement.

    Dr Cao Feng
    PhD graduate of English Language and Literature (ELL) Academic Group
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016
      (click to read more)

    “My course lecturers are extremely approachable, and this creates a very comfortable and productive working relationship. I guess this has, in part, to do with the idea that when it comes to education research, everyone you meet has an innate passion in teaching and learning.

    I think the PhD programme, together with the research culture that NIE adopts, provides us research students with a brilliant platform to enter the world of academia, which I hope to do one day.

    Mr Cassim Munshi
    current PhD student of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (CTL) Academic Group
    Recipient of NTU Research Scholarship
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016
      (click to read more)

    “The exposure to other scholars and educators with the Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore during my candidature has expanded my theoretical thinking and provided opportunities to discuss and debate ideas for future effective implementation. I believe that the academic and practical experience of investigating how drama can be an efficacious medium for teaching and learning is invaluable to me as a researcher. Upon graduation, I will be better equipped to embark on a journey as an academic who documents and theorises new educational practices, and as an educator who experiments with innovative pedagogies such as drama.

    Ms Cheryl Chen
    current PhD student of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Academic Group
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016

      (click to read more)

    “The main reason for me to pursue PhD studies at NIE was due to the confidence and motivation given by my supervisors. They provided rigorous training and constantly guided and motivated me throughout my PhD tenure. They were always there to help the students, especially in times of need. For these, I am always very grateful to them.

    The expertise and skills earned during my PhD tenure allowed me to make my contribution to the organisation I worked for more efficiently.

    Dr Nazir Amir
    PhD graduate of Natural Sciences & Science Education (NSSE) Academic Group
    Recipient of President's Award for Teachers 2014 and Fullbright Distinguished Award in Teaching 2016
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016

      (click to read more)

    “Completing my PhD research studies under the wonderful supervision of A/P R. Subramaniam has allowed me to realise the importance of research in conjunction with being a classroom teacher. As part of my research studies, A/P Subramaniam guided me to look into the literature to find ways that would get my NT students excited about learning physics content while at the same time giving them room to be guided in showcasing their creativity through knowledge from physics.

    Dr S.M.P. Kalaiselvi
    PhD graduate of Natural Sciences & Science Education (NSSE) Academic Group
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016

      (click to read more)

    “Being a research student in NIE gives me a competitive edge as I am not only able to hone my expertise in my field of research in a laboratory which can hold its own amongst the best in the field, but also to develop my skills in pedagogical methods in the delivery of lessons."

    Mr Mark Lim
    current PhD student of Natural Sciences & Science Education (NSSE) Academic Group
    - Getting to Know Series, 2016

      (click to read more)

    “I was keen to take up the NIE Masters and PhD as the programmes offer both breadth and depth. Topics are designed to inform on the latest developments in the field. It was good for me because I came from a non-Early Childhood background and needed some form of grounding in this area. The rigor of the programmes also attracted me to take up the courses. As I progressed along, I was also privileged to work with exceptional faculty members who are experts in their fields.

    As a beginning academic, I was especially supported by senior faculty members in the ECSE AG when it came to teaching and research. Much guidance was given to new academics as we went about developing courses and designing material to ensure that our learners, be it pre-service, in-service or higher degree students benefited from the time they spent in class."

    Dr Mercy Karuniah Jesuvadian
    Lecturer at Early Childhood and Special Needs Education (ECSE) Academic Group
    PhD student at NIE from 2008 to 2016
    - Getting to Know Series, 2017

      (click to read more)

    “The sessions with the reviewers were engaging as they were very much like peer-to-peer interactions. In many ways, Associate Professor Ng Pak Tee, my supervisor, gave lots of input by bouncing off ideas and viewpoints; and value-added to the research work in a nurturing manner.

    At work, I have already started implementing some of the new paradigms that I discovered through my research. Now that my research has been endorsed, I will step up the pace of implementing my learning, for the benefit of Singaporeans and the community."

    Dr Ang Hak Seng, BBM
    PhD graduate of Policy & Leadership Studies (PLS) Academic Group 
    - Getting to Know Series, 2017

      (click to read more)

    “NIE has always been my first choice for pursuing my PhD because of its excellence in academic research and teaching. There are strong ties between NIE and the Ministry of Education’s teachers. I learned a lot from both the NIE professors and the school teachers whom I worked with in my research."

    Dr Barry Bai
    PhD graduate of English Language & Literature (ELL) Academic Group 
    - Getting to Know Series, 2017

      (click to read more)

    • E-mail:
      (for administrative enquiries related to admissions and application)

    • E-mail:
      (for administrative matters related to programme matters such as time-table, study plans)

    • List of Programme Leaders (for specific academic enquiries related to the programme such as curriculum requirements)

    Areas of Research Programme Leader
    Asian Language and Cultures Chinese Language: Dr CHOONG Kok Weng
    Malay Language: Dr Mohd Aidil Subhan Bin MOHAMED SULOR
    Tamil Language: A/P Seetha Lakshmi
    Curriculum and Teaching A/P Jiang Heng
    Early Childhood and Special Education Early Childhood: A/P TAN Ai Girl
    Special Education: A/P TAN Ai Girl
    High Ability Studies: Dr Letchmi Ponnusamy
    English Language and Literature A/P Peter Teo
    Humanities and Social Studies Education A/P DAS Diganta Kumar
    Learning Sciences and Technologies A/P Chen Wenli
    Mathematics and Mathematics Education Mathematics: A/P ZHAO Dong Sheng
    Mathematics Education: A/P Leong Yew Hoong
    Natural Sciences and Science Education A/P Chew Shit Fun
    Office of Education Research Dr Seow Sen Kee Peter
    Physical Education and Sports Science Asst/P Masato Kawabata
    Policy and Leadership Studies A/P LIM Lee Hean
    Psychological Studies A/P Gregory Arief D LIEM
    Visual and Performing Arts Art: Asst/P Rebecca Heaton
    Drama: Asst/P Charlene Delia Jeyamani Rajendran
    Music: A/P Lum Chee Hoo and A/P Leonard Tan