Skip to content

Toggle service links

Research degrees we offer

An image of the Open University main reception building

We offer a range of research degrees. You can study a PhD or MPhil on a full-time or part-time basis. The Doctorate in Education (EdD) and the Doctorate in Health and Social Care are part-time degrees. Full-time students are normally based at our main campus in Milton Keynes; part-time students may carry out their research off-campus. All our degree students are well supported; you will have a supervisory team within an established research group and within a discipline-based research cluster. This team will provide support and training to help you develop your research, and will monitor your academic progress throughout your studies. The final assessment involves the submission of a thesis and an oral examination. 

The entry requirements for an OU research degree vary according to the research topic; you can find out more by looking at the research areas listed on the right; contact details for academic staff are provided. You'll also need to be aware that, in order to study with us, you will need to have a good command of English. If your first language is not English, you will need to verify that your competence in the English Language in all four elements (reading, writing, listening and speaking). The University requires a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any of the four categories (or approved equivalent). You should have your level of proficiency certified through a provider approved by UK Visas and Immigration and provide your certificate and grade with your application.

Before starting a research degree, and at regular points in your studies, you should consider your skills needs – your supervisors will help with this.  It may be advisable to have completed a relevant masters degree prior to starting a doctorate. Courses are available at the OU, and through national doctoral training networks, to strengthen your qualitative and quantitative research skills.

On starting a PhD, you will initially be registered for an MPhil. When you pass your probationary period, your registration for a PhD will be confirmed.

Types of degree available:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (Full and Part Time)

Doctorate in Education (EdD) (Part Time only)

Doctorate in Health and Social Care (DHSC) (Part Time only)

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) (Full and Part Time)

PhD by Published Works


Full-time study or part-time study?

Find the right mode of study for you.

Full-time study

Part-time study

Higher doctorates

The University also awards two higher doctorates, the Doctor of Letters (DLitt) and the Doctor of Science (DSc) on the basis of published work. These qualifications are only open to graduates of the University, a graduate holding a degree validated by The Open University who is not otherwise eligible for registration with a degree-awarding institution, members of University staff of at least three years standing (including Associate Lecturers) and others with established links to the University. Please contact the Research Degrees Team by email or telephone +44 (0)1908 654882 for further information.

Affiliated Research Centres

The University has partnerships with a growing number of specialist research institutions across the world. Postgraduate research students at these Affiliated Research Centres (ARCs) are registered with the OU for their PhDs but undertake their research at the Centre.

There are currently over 20 of these Affiliated Research Centres in the UK, Europe, US, Africa and the Far East. Each has its own admissions policy and procedures which are approved by the OU.

Students register directly with the ARC not via the OU. This website is for people wishing to register directly with the OU rather than at an ARC.

Your questions

For advice about applying for a research degree, or sponsoring a research student, send us an email or call +44 (0)1908 654882.