Doctor of Philosophy In Health

About the Programme

In alignment with the Pan-African mandate of Africa University, the overall vision of the Department of Health Sciences is to become the faculty of choice for applicants wishing to be trained in any health care profession nationally, regionally and internationally. With original problem-solving health research by students and faculty as its core focus, the DPhil programme is aimed to position the Department of Health Sciences and Africa University at large as a world class institution and global centre of excellence for research and education. The DPhil programme is designed to serve as one of the key driving engines of high impact, policy-shaping research output that is extraordinarily visible through peer-reviewed publications, conferences and patents and transformative technical support for honing disease control and elimination programmes across the African continent by African talent.
This programme will nurture leadership professionals capable of not only ground-breaking discovery but also attracting funding in their own right through competitive grants. Typically, candidates for this programme will come funded or seeking to apply for competitive fellowship grants with supervising faculty that are recognized authorities in the pipelines for proposed field of study.


Duration of Programme

The duration of the Doctor of Philosophy programmes shall normally be:

  • Full-time - 3-5 years | 7 years (maximum)
  • Part-time - 4-7 years | 9 years (maximum)



In line with Pan-African mandate and the FHS vision, the DPhil programme in health sciences is designed to unleash full research potential creativity and innovation for addressing and solving all aspects of health needs of African nations and beyond. The programme will not only catalyse Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] but also facilitate direct translation into locally appropriate products for the betterment of the health, economic property and dignity of African people. All health professionals from across the continent wishing to be trained in leading health research will have the opportunity to enroll in diverse fields of the Health Sciences DPhil programme.


Target Group

The DPhil in Health Sciences research doctorate is designed for all healthcare professionals who wish to undertake health research and education at the highest level. The doctor of health sciences programme is especially suitable for nurses, midwives, occupational therapists, laboratory scientists, public health officers, biomedical scientists and staff development candidates from academic institutions across the African continent and beyond.


DPhil Requirements

The DPhil degree is a graduate degree carried out primarily through supervised research. Students will be firmly encouraged and availed opportunities to undertake audited coursework by capitalizing on a wealth of existing excellent post-graduate courses, attend lectures, seminars or workshops that they deem enhancing to their research studies. Cross-cutting courses on research will be particularly encouraged, especially Research Methodology, Basic Epidemiology, Advanced Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Candidates will also be entitled to attend any other available courses in their specific areas of specialty.

Doctoral research projects can be based on fieldwork (sometimes in distant places), laboratory experiments, analysis of existing data sets, or mathematical theory, but in all cases must be original and rigorous, leading to publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. DPhil students will be part of a vibrant educational research community that includes an active set of doctoral student-led events, seminars and workshops. They will have the opportunity to present and discuss their work in progress with their supervisor, other faculty members and peers, informally day-to-day and by attending a variety of seminars and workshops in the department and at conferences elsewhere.

Conferment of the title of DPhil is conditional on submission of a thesis and success in an oral (viva voce) examination in front of a committee of AU-based and external examiners. A minimum of 4 publications is expected from a successfully completed DPhil thesis.

  1. Fields of study for research include but are not limited to Medical Parasitology, Medical Mycology, Medical Virology, Haematology, Medical Microbiology, Applied Molecular Biology, Blood Bank, Immunology, Vector Biology, Epidemiology, Nursing, Epistemology, and Public Health.
  2. All prospective graduate students shall be expected to demonstrate proficiency in English in order to pursue their studies at Africa University.


Entry Requirements

Depending on prevailing availability of suitable supervising experts, applicants may be considered who hold a:

  1. BSc Honours degree in Medical Laboratory Science (BMLS), Nursing (BSN), or Health Service Management (BHSM), Biomedical Sciences or equivalent Honours degree in the First or Second class division;

  2. BSc Honours Medical Laboratory Science, BSN, BHSM, Biomedical Sciences or equivalent Honours degree with a minimum pass grade, provided performance in the intended subject of study was B grade average or above, and the candidate has satisfied the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) through recommendation from the Faculty that the candidate has exhibited academic potential by conducting fieldwork, subsequent research experience and (or) additional training in the academic discipline of the intended Masters’ degree.

  3. General BSc Medical Laboratory Science/Biomedical Sciences or equivalent degree provided that a grade of B or above was attained in the intended subject of study and the candidate has minimum one year industrial or research-related experience;

  4. Upon recommendation to the GSC by the Dean, a candidate whose degree is considered deficient may be required to take one or more relevant undergraduate courses in addition to the minimum graduate requirements.


Programme Structure

The following programme of study shall be employed as stipulated in the Africa University Graduate Studies guidelines.

  1. Each student shall be required to pursue their research programme under the guidance of a Doctoral Committee, which consists of a thesis advisor, who chairs the committee, and two other members, all three Committee members possessing doctorates.
  2. The programme of study will consist of scheduled research and written thesis chapters under the guidance and supervision of the Doctoral Committee
  3. Each student shall maintain a regular contact with the Faculty and shall be required to present seminars as directed by the supervisor.
  4. A student will not normally be allowed to break the continuity of studies, although a student may be allowed to suspend registration for a maximum period of one year on the approval of the GSC, after a recommendation from the Dean.
  5. A student will not normally be allowed to change from full-time to part-time study or vice versa without written consent from the GSC, upon recommendation of the Faculty Board



  1. A student‘s doctoral programme will be supervised by a Doctoral Committee comprised of three persons: a thesis advisor, who shall serve as the chair of the committee and two members.
  2. Each member of the Doctoral Committee must possess a doctorate degree.
  3. The chair of the Doctoral Committee shall be an Africa University academic staff from the student’s Faculty. The chair must have a specialization in the area of the student’s research.
  4. The second member of the Doctoral Committee may be an Africa University academic staff from the student’s Faculty OR an Africa University academic staff from a cognate discipline outside the student’s faculty OR an Africa University nonacademic staff with teaching and or research experience/specialization in the student’s area of research.
  5. The third member of the Doctoral Committee may be an Africa University academic staff from the student’s Faculty OR an Africa University academic staff from a cognate discipline outside the student’s faculty OR an Africa University nonacademic staff with teaching and or research experience/specialization in the student’s area of research OR an academic staff from a cognate discipline in another tertiary institution. In the last case, the appointment of the member to the Doctoral Committee shall be approved by the GSC upon the recommendation of the Dean.
  6. The student, in consultation with the Dean, must select his/her thesis advisor by the end of the first semester of the programme.
  7. The student, in consultation with the Dean and his/her thesis advisor, must select the second member of the Doctoral Committee by the end of the second semester of the programme.
  8. The third member of the Doctoral Committee shall be appointed by the Dean.



  1. At least twice a semester, the doctoral student will hold scheduled meetings with the Doctoral Committee to monitor and assess progress towards the completion of the thesis
  2. Reports on progress towards completion of the thesis will be submitted each semester by the Dean to the GSC
  3. The Dean will submit the reports, including comments from the GSC, to Senate.
  4. Assessment of the thesis is as described in the prospectus and below
  5. Where a student is not showing satisfactory progress, the Faculty may recommend to the Senate, through the GSC, for the student to be discontinued.


DPhil Thesis

Thesis Proposal
  1. DPhil students will write and defend a thesis proposal before their Doctoral Committee.
  2. Students will take an oral thesis proposal defense examination during the first semester of their programme
  3. Thesis proposal defense examinations will be graded by three members of the Doctoral Committee
  4. A student will require a minimum average of 70 percent to pass a Thesis Proposal Defense Examination
  5. A student who is successful in the Thesis Proposal Defense Examination shall proceed to thesis research
  6. A student who is not successful in defending the thesis proposal the first time shall be given a second opportunity to do so. Failure at the second attempt will lead to dismissal from the programme.

Career and Job Opportunities

Apart from capacitating current health professionals serving African communities, the Health Sciences doctoral programme will graduate original thinkers and self-driven leadership professionals that can compete for grants and are suitable for a wide range of research posts in academia, industry and research institutes.