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Institute of Technology or Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic
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Doctor of Professional Practice

This course is available


Level of Study

Doctoral Degree


3 years

Next start date



The Doctor of Professional Practice captures emergent knowledge relevant to the candidate’s work and relevant for work contexts, integrating work-based knowledge with disciplinary knowledge to create new knowledge.

All professional doctorates share significant features: the study is focused on generating substantial original knowledge from and about practices within a professional setting and combining it with formal disciplinary knowledge. New synthesised knowledge informs the candidate, the organisation, the field of practice and the profession.

This innovative and advanced educational programme aims to enable candidates to create new knowledge for and about New Zealand’s workplaces through applied practice and research projects; thereby facilitating the development of their personal and professional practice as leaders of practice.

Our goal is to help you design and then achieve new professional and personal learning goals, over a three year (full-time) enrolment period. These goals will be identified by you. There are no taught courses in this programme; instead it is self-directed and you will be provided with academic support staff who will work with you combining distance and face-to-face learning, supported by online resources.

The programme will attract learners who are self-managing and highly motivated, already skilled in initiating and maximizing learning opportunities. They have well-developed higher level thinking skills; critical as well as strategic thinkers, with global as well as organizational perspectives. They may have already investigated complex problems; they may be recognized experts in a field, as well as change agents for new and innovative practice. They may have already demonstrated leadership and the capability to influence others. They are able to articulate their professional practice, and propose innovative change with informed ideas.

Programme outcomes

Overall, the Doctor of Professional Practice requires learners to:

  • create new knowledge that will contribute to practice. The Doctor of Professional Practice design parallels the key principles of doctorate level study, whereby it is a research degree with a significant research element (including a 50,000 word practitioner thesis). This research is conducted within a workplace setting.

They will achieve this new knowledge by:

  • exploring the literature relevant to the field of study (academic, practitioner, policy)
  • design research projects using relevant methodological frameworks
  • applying relevant research methodologies
  • applying relevant ethical understanding to their research
  • understanding, considering and critiquing the beliefs and values that influence their own professional practices.

The graduate of the Doctor of Professional Practice is able to:

  • systematically and critically reflect on experience, theory and practice as a means of creating new knowledge
  • employ contemporary, specialised personal cognitive, technical and research skills in a discipline area or organisational field to independently and systematically frame projects and proposals
  • demonstrate autonomy, authoritative judgement, adaptability and responsibility as a leading practitioner in their field.


Learning is self-paced and as communication can be face-to-face or via email, phone or Skype, learners can access the programme from anywhere within New Zealand. This programme is delivered by two academic mentors working with individuals and occur within the workplace.

Entry criteria

The Doctor of Professional Practice is a competitive entry programme, with a limited numbers of candidates accepted in any one year.

Prospective candidates must have:

  • a Master’s qualification at the standard of Excellence or Credit, or the equivalent (e.g A or B grade, Honours 1 or 2),
  • and evidence to the satisfaction of the Research and Post-Graduate Committee to demonstrate:
  • extensive professional experience of an appropriate kind, relevant to the stated field of practice (for example 7-10 years);
  • ability and willingness to successfully undertake a self-managed academic process;
  • an established professional relationship and/or employment/self-employment with the opportunity to undertake projects, inquiries or other work-based activity;
  • demonstrated academic writing and researching skills at postgraduate level.

Additionally, acceptance as a doctoral student will be after developing a research proposal and undertaking an interview with representatives of the Doctor of Professional Practice programme committee.

It will also depend on the availability of academic mentoring in the area of the candidate’s research interests.

If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.5, with no less than 6.0 in any band.

TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT): Score of 590 (with an essay score of 5.5 TWE)

TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT): Score of 79 (with a writing score of 21)

Cambridge English Qualifications: C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a score of 176. No less than 169 in each skill;

Pearson Test of English (Academic): PTE (Academic) score of 58 with no band score lower than 50

Language Certificate: C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS and no less than Pass in each skill or C2 Mastery IESOL (LRWS) with PASS

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