PhD Futures Studies

Become a specialist in strategic foresight through doctoral research

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Course Overview
Course starts Dependent on application
Fees R 114 604
Applications 31 March and 30 September each year

This internationally accredited PhD Futures Studies will enable you to become a specialist in the field of strategic foresight. This expertise – typically in fields such as the new world of business, social capital, security, sustainability, technology and innovation, and decision-making – will enable you to work in government, public and private corporations, financial institutions, and academic institutions.

The degree is awarded on the successful completion of a research-based dissertation. This is the only PhD degree of its kind in Africa.

  • Duration: 2 years plus
  • Format: Supervised research, culminating in a doctoral dissertation
  • How to apply: Click here to see the 8 steps of the application process
  • Deadlines for applications and SHL selection tests: Deadline for all candidates: 31 March and 30 September each year. The Doctoral Research Committee considers PhD applications in April and October each year.

2023 Tuition Fees

South Africa

  Tuition fees Deposit   Application Fee


Year 1


R12 000 R850 R2 950
Year 2 R57,302 R12 000






  Tuition fees Deposit   Application Fee


Year 1


R30,984 R850 R2 950
Year 2






Rest of the World

  Tuition fees Deposit   Application Fee


Year 1


R33,591 R850 R2 950
Year 2






  • Payment of full programme fees: South African students can pay the full programme fees upon registration, or they can pay 75% of the annual fees by the end of May and the balance of 25% by the end of September. International admitted students pay 50% of the annual fee as deposit. The remainder is due two weeks before commencement of the programme.
  • Deposit: All students pay a deposit on acceptance of admission. South African students must pay a set deposit on admittance. International admitted students pay 50% of the annual fee as deposit. The deposit payable is non-refundable.
  • Application fee: The application fee must accompany the application. The application fee is non-refundable.
  • Fees for second and subsequent years of enrolment: These fees will be adjusted to make provision for annual price increases.
  • Assessment of international students’ applications: International students require a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) evaluation certificate to evaluate their degrees according to South African standards. The Business School’s International Affairs Office will first handle the credential evaluations of international students free of charge. Students need to complete the online application and upload all certificates with their application. The International Affairs Office will conduct an in-house credential evaluation after you have submitted your application. Should the International Affairs Office be unsure about the status, recognition or accreditation of your qualification, we reserve the right to refer you to SAQA. The Business School will only assess your application once we have received your application fee and SHL fee.
  • Travel and accommodation: Students are responsible for their own travel and accommodation arrangements and costs.
  • Fee changes: Stellenbosch Business School reserves the right to change the fees at any time.


Capitec’s credit for education solution

Capitec offers credit for education at a discounted rate which allows prospective students to apply for a loan of up to R250 000. To apply, the applicant must be permanently employed, 18 years or older, and have a valid South African ID document. A provisional quote or admission letter from Stellenbosch Business School is needed to process the credit application. You can only apply for Capitec’s credit solution through the Business School’s website. Initiation, service fees and T&Cs apply. Capitec Bank is an authorised financial services provider (FSP 46669) and registered credit provider (NCRCP13).


The programme consists of supervised research in Futures Studies, culminating in a doctoral dissertation. The minimum registration period is two years.

The preparation of your pre-proposal

Every application must include a pre-proposal, written in scientific language, on your intended research. The pre-proposal serves to demonstrate whether you have a mature approach to high-level research. It also helps us evaluate whether the topic is viable and whether we can provide appropriate supervision and resources. The world count of the pre-proposal is approximately 4 000 words (excluding references). This is what the pre-proposal must cover:

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Research methodology
  • Potential contribution of the research
  • References

The preparation of your comprehensive research proposal

Once your pre-proposal has been approved, you need to submit a comprehensive research proposal. Your provisional supervisor will guide you in the preparation of your proposal. Your comprehensive research proposal will serve as your road map for the completion of your PhD. You will be formally registered for your PhD once your comprehensive research proposal has been accepted.

The actual research process and its deliverables

Through their research, PhD registrants must demonstrate the following:

  • Expertise, knowledge and reflection of theories and methods at the forefront of a field or discipline
  • The ability to apply theories, acquire new knowledge and generate new insights to confront practical and theoretical problems with the aim of proposing relevant and ethical solutions
  • The ability to communicate your work to an audience of researchers
  • The ability to take part as a researcher in the international research community

Your final dissertation will be evaluated by three examiners. This will be followed by a public oral defence of the dissertation – the viva voce.

Creating intellectual capital

This PhD will provide you with a transformative learning experience to find your way forward – particularly if you see your future self as a strategist, long-range decision maker, manager or leader.

This degree allows you to become an expert in Futures Studies. Your dissertation must therefore:

  • Represent an original and significant contribution to the enrichment and advancement of knowledge in your chosen field of research
  • Demonstrate originality of thought, a theoretical underpinning, relevance to the discipline and rigour in execution
  • Create intellectual capital, which is the cornerstone of the knowledge society of the 21st century.

Who should enrol?

If you would like to become a specialist in strategic foresight, this internationally accredited PhD will help you achieve this.

This PhD is aimed at professional futurists, decision makers and strategic planners who would like to distinguish themselves through in-depth research aimed at helping people to bring about a more desirable future – a future that supports the growth agendas of South Africa and Africa.

This will prepare you for senior-level positions in government, public and private corporations, policy-making institutions, financial institutions, and sub-regional, regional and international organisations. It could also enable candidates to become lecturers at academic institutions.

What you need to apply

The three main academic requirements for admission to the PhD Futures Studies degree are:

  • The MPhil Futures Studies or a relevant master’s degree which included a substantial component related to futures studies. A major part of the Master’s must consist of a written thesis, for which a grade of at least 65% should be obtained.
  • A minimum period of registration of two years.
  • The SHL selection test (see below).

SHL selection test

You need to complete the SHL abilities selection test as part of your application process. The test consists of a verbal critical reasoning assessment, numerical critical reasoning assessment, inductive reasoning test, and Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) on behavioural preferences, which are used for selection and for the identification of your development areas.

  • Duration: Approximately 3 hours.
  • Preparation: No preparation is required. However, you are encouraged to perform a practice test to familiarise yourself with the test format. See
  • About the test: The SHL test is done online. (Random verification might be requested.) You will be provided with a link to the SHL test once you have paid your PhD Futures Studies application fee and SHL selection test fee, and after you have submitted your application form and have received your provisional student number. (You need to use this provisional student number when writing the SHL.)
  • Cost: For fees, please see (click on Fees tab). See bank details under How to apply and use your provisional student number as reference. The application fee and SHL selection test fee can be paid online, and they are non-refundable.
  • Link to the SHL selection test: You do not have to arrange with the Business School to write the SHL test. You will receive a link to the test once the relevant payments have been received and you have submitted your application form. The Business School will receive your results directly from SHL and will upload it to your application form on your behalf.
  • Additional information:
  • Important: The SHL selection test is valid for 18 months. If your SHL selection test results are older than this, you should ideally rewrite the test as people grow and develop and assessments need to take this into account. Stellenbosch Business School does not consider SHL tests from other institutions as you may have written a different type or level of test, or you may have been compared to a different comparison group. If you have completed the SHL with Stellenbosch Business School during the past 18 months, you do not have to rewrite the test.

Requirements for ongoing registration

The minimum period of registration for the PhD is two years. Each successive registration requires evidence of sufficient progress toward completion. In particular, the following are required:

  • Supervisor(s): Students are expected to meet regularly with their appointed research supervisor(s) in person or virtually at the discretion of the supervisor(s). Regular exchange of written material is expected to accompany these meetings.
  • Progress reports: Students must submit a progress report at least twice a year attesting to satisfactory progress toward completion of the dissertation.
  • PhD colloquia: Students must present their work in person at a PhD colloquium at least twice every year. The student will field questions from faculty and students attending the colloquia.


PhD candidates at Stellenbosch Business School are strongly encouraged to:

  • Publish articles from their PhD work in peer-reviewed journals as well as in other media
  • Present work based on their PhD at appropriate academic conferences.

Discover more about the programmes


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Programme Ambassadors

Alumni who support prospective students in their new stage of life and share their personal experience about studying at Stellenbosch Business School.


Programme enquiries and application support

Charmaine Garcia: Client Liaison


Admission enquiries

Joanne Sleigh



A PhD Futures Studies will enable you to become a specialist in the field of strategic foresight. This expertise – typically in fields such as the new world of business, social capital, security, sustainability, technology and innovation, and decision-making – will enable you to work in government, policy-making institutions, public and private corporations, financial institutions, and academic institutions.

The input of futurists in organisations can lead to better decision-making and better outcomes because their knowledge of how different futures can play out helps to mitigate risks and to leverage opportunities. The ability to make strategic long-term decisions will help to deal with rapid and complex changes, locally and internationally. This can be translated into a significant competitive advantage.

Lastly, the depth brought about by doctoral studies will strengthen your authority as a professional futurist. It will enhance your stakeholder analysis, environmental scanning, systems simulation and strategic planning skills. It will also benefit you in consultation and facilitation roles.

A minimum registration period of two years is required.

Academic assistance is offered via a web-based learning environment, various software and database resources, small-group teams (dedicated study groups), and informal learning groups.

It is unfortunately so that many students embark on a PhD but never complete their studies. One way to help prevent this, is to attend a doctoral training programme and/or doctoral school to prepare themselves for doctoral studies.

This includes the 5-day Doctoral Research Training Programme at Stellenbosch Business School, and the doctoral schools presented by Stellenbosch University’s African Doctoral Academy.

This will provide you with an understanding of the research process, and help you to narrow down and clearly formulate your research problem and research questions. In the long run, it will save you time and provide a structured approach to your research.

Stellenbosch University’s library services can also help with books on how to prepare for doctoral studies and how to write a proposal.

Testimonials from our alumni

Jan Naude, Futurist, Institute for Futures Research at the University of Stellenbosch.

‘The PhD study enhanced my career as analyst and consultant tremendously. Previously, I tended to have a narrow approach as an analyst of global geo-strategic dynamics. The PhD (Futures Studies) changed all that and ingrained a holistic approach based on open-mindedness to see things more clearly from multiple perspectives.’

Rianne van Vuuren , Advisor at Aquilo Forecasting .

‘The road of exploring the philosophy and methodologies of Futures Studies was indeed bumpy but also extremely rewarding. Although many academic disciplines do pursue elements of forward-looking perspectives, only Future Studies provides a multi-, trans- and inter-disciplinary approach.’