Skip to main content

PhD in Development Studies

Development Studies is a multidisciplinary programme whose teaching, research and practice are continually evolving in tandem with change processes in society. The Institute for Development Studies (IDS) PhD programme addresses contemporary development issues using appropriate theories and methodological approaches. The philosophy of the programme is to equip candidates with the skills and knowledge required for a career in academia or consultancy in the field of development. Its objective is to empower candidates with the analytical and conceptual skills needed to understand the opportunities and challenges of development.

A candidate registered for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies shall carry out a programme of original research over a minimum period of 18 months after the date of registration or after completion of any required coursework and/or examination. No candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies shall be registered as a full-time student for more than four years or as a part-time student for more than five years, except by permission of the Senate. Subject to the approval of the Senate, IDS may require candidates to attend such a course or courses as may be considered appropriate to remedy deficiencies in the candidate. 

The PhD. Programme in Development Studies shall be conducted by research and thesis.

The following shall be eligible to apply for registration for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies.

  1.  A holder of a Master’s degree in Development Studies or any other social science discipline from the University of Nairobi;
  2. A holder of a Master’s degree in any other discipline from the University of Nairobi, who provides evidence of social science-based study, research or publications;
  3. A holder of a Master’s degree or equivalent academic qualifications from other institutions recognized y the University of Nairobi Senate as of comparable status.

Applications are processed throughout the year.

The applicant writes a letter of application to the Director, IDS, attaching a pre-proposal, full curriculum vitae, and transcripts of undergraduate and postgraduate study.

The IDS PhD Co-ordinator assesses the submission for the suitability of the topic to IDS, the quality of the pre-proposal, and the applicant’s preparation for PhD study.  In some case, the pre-proposal is given to senior academic staff in the relevant field/subject area for further review.

If the decision is positive, the applicant is assigned a senior academic to work with to produce a full proposal within a period of not more than six months.

After the assigned academic advisor is satisfied with the proposal, the applicant makes a formal presentation in an IDS PhD seminar.  Based on the seminar, the IDS Postgraduate Studies Committee determines whether the applicant should be recommended for registration as a PhD student at the University of Nairobi.

The applicant may be required to make further revisions to the proposal before registration.  Registration takes place through the University of Nairobi's Graduate School.

The Graduate School notifies each applicant in writing of its action and the application.

After receipt of the Graduate School's registration, IDS assigns two thesis supervisors, at least one of whom will be an IDS staff member.

A prospective applicant will seek admission, by a formal application to the Director, Institute for Development Studies (IDS), indicating intent of joining the doctoral programme, The application will consit of the following;

1. A letter to the Director, IDS, stating desire to apply to the programme.

2. A pre-proposal outlining the proposed doctoral research (not more than 8 pages). 

3. Curriculum Vitae. 


The pre-proposal should be no more than 2,500 words and should include the following sections:

(a) Introduction/background; (b) Problem Statement; (c) Research Question and/or Hypotheses; (d) Objectives of the Study; (e) Justification of the Study; (f) Methodology; and (g) References. 


Letters of two referees, at least one of which must be from an academic referee able to asses the applicant's potential for doctoral study. 

Pre-proposal Review

IDS will review the pre-proposal to determine its academic suitability and quality. 

Graduate Seminar 

Within three months of the the acceptance of the pre-proposal, the prospective applicant will be required to present a complete proposal to an IDS graduate seminar where review comments will be communicated.

The prospective applicant will be expected to respond to comments received from the seminar, both orally and in writing. The applicant should consult the IDS staff member in revising the proposal. 

Graduate School Clearance

After addressing the review comments, the prospective applicant will be cleared by IDS to make a formal application to the Graduate School of the University of Nairobi for admission to the doctoral programme. 

Year 1 Kshs 272,000 

Year 2 Kshs 267,000 

Year 3 Kshs 317,000  

Other charges include an application fee of Kshs. 5,000. 

During their studies, most PhD candidates are attached to an IDS research project or working in a sponsoring organisation.

Our graduates who are not already engaged go on to work with the private sector, civil society organisations and public sectors in Kenya and beyond. They are working to address emerging issues that have implications for development in various capacities including:

  1. Academic Professions
  2. Monitoring & Evaluation Experts
  3. Development Analysts
  4. Project Managers
  5. Business Development Experts
  6. Community Development Experts
  7. Development Researchers/Consultants
  8. Programme Officers in Development Projects.
Enroll and Begin Your Journey at


What our Alumni Say

We are professional and reliable provider since we offer customers the most powerful and beautiful themes. Besides, we always catch the latest technology and adapt to follow world’s new trends to deliver the best themes to the market.