The Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in the field of Digital Transformation

The DPhil (in the field of Digital Transformation) programme aims to grow leaders who will find solutions to real-life challenges faced by businesses and society by using a combination of in-depth research and practical application, underpinned by academic rigour and critical thinking.

  • NQF Level 10
  • Application Start Date: 1 April 2024
  • Application Closing Date: 31 October 2024

Admission requirements

The JBS Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) with specialisation in Digital Transformation is a research degree undertaken with the guidance of a supervisor for at least a minimum period of two years after full registration. Full registration will only be allowed after the successful completion of course work and defense of research proposal.

DPhil applicants need to:

  • Hold a recognised Master’s degree (NQF Level 9) (or in special circumstances, at the discretion of the Senate, a qualification recognised by the Senate as equivalent). A Master’s degree in an associated field of business administration , economics, science or behavioural sciences is preferred, however, given the cross-disciplinary approach of this programme, provision will also be made for applicants with Master’s degrees (NQF Level 9) in the creative areas. Candidates with a Master’s degree in a related discipline may also qualify at the sole discretion of the JBS;
  • Submit a certified copy of the applicant identity document;
  • Provide certified copies of academic records and transcripts of the applicant’s qualifications to date;
  • In the case of master’s equivalent credentials, verification of whether the qualification is equivalent to a South African degree is required. This can be done by contacting the South African Qualifications Authority(SAQA);
  • Two written motivations by either academics or senior management peers / colleagues who are able to testify as to the applicant’s written and verbal competencies, as well as ability to perform high level academic research and writing;
  • Submit the concept note containing the background, problem, the rationale, questions, significance of the study, envisaged contribution, full list of references and successfully defend this concept (maximum 3 pages)
  • Append their most recent CV to the application submission

International applications

International applicants for whom English is a second language are required to submit one of the following, unless this requirement is waived by the DPhil Director:

  • A recent score on the TOEFL Test of at least 570 (paper-based) or 230 (computer-based) or 88 (internet-based). This must be obtained within 3-5 years before applying to the JBS.


  • A recent overall band score of 7.0 (with no individual element of the test scoring below 6.0) on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).


  • A proven body of work appended to the application submission as evidence of English language academic writing skills.

Information on the TOEFL test is available here. For the IELTS contact the British consulate or embassy in the applicant’s home country.

Who should enrol?

Applicants who are interested in undertaking in-depth research on topics related to digital transformation, addressing real world transformational issues, and empowering society at large to bridge the digital divide. A relevant master’s degree (NQF Level 09) such as a master’s in business administration, economics, engineering, science, and behavioural sciences will be required, although the cross-disciplinary approach of the programme will also make provision for applicants with Masters in the creative areas. The programme aims to create and develop knowledge relevant to challenges that exist across a range of industries and sectors.

DPhil Brochure

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Course Overview

During the first year, candidates will take tailored coursework covering research methods and relevant academic literature to enable them to carry out independent and high-calibre research with a sound understanding of the principles and theories underpinning digital transformation practices. During the first-year, candidates will be required to produce and defend a final research proposal. Subsequent years of registration are taken up by the research component, which culminates in a DPhil thesis.

The DPhil programme is organised into a course-work component and supervised research:

  • A discipline-based core curriculum: This structured course-work component is non-credit bearing, but candidates are required to attend the requisite courses which culminates in the submission and defense of their proposal before proceeding with their thesis.
  • An independent research thesis: DPhil candidates will be expected to pursue a supervised research culminating in a doctoral thesis which constitutes the examinable product for which the DPhil degree is eventually awarded.

Course structure

Year 1

This year will consist of two blocks and proposal defense. The lectures are organised in two blocks and they will take place between February and May as well as between July and October. The courses consist of highly interactive lectures, seminars and case discussions. Candidates are also required to defend their proposals before a review panel to be able to register for the second year.

Year 2 and subsequent years

Registration to work on your DPhil thesis under the guidance of a supervisor. Candidates will be required to present papers at a colloquium in May and October every year, as well as submit progress reports. Upon completion, the submitted thesis will go through examination in which external examiners are involved and concluded through the oral examination.


During the first year, students are granted provisional registration for the DPhil. Full registration for the DPhil will only be allowed after the successful completion of course work and research proposal. A minimum full registration period of two years is required.

Structured course work

The two compulsory courses are designed to provide a foundation in research tools and introduce students to relevant knowledge related to digital transformation. The Advanced Research Methods and Special Topics in Digital Transformation modules will enable students to prepare and submit a research proposal on which to base their DPhil thesis. Modules are assessed by a mixture of assignments and research projects.

Advanced Research Methods

This module covers research methods (qualitative and quantitative) required to undertake academic research.  Students will develop skills in all aspects of the research process, including research design, data collection, data analysis, theory building, reviewing papers, interpreting research results as well as critically assessing the findings presented in other studies. In addition, a wide spectrum of technologies and algorithms in machine learning will also be covered. This will teach basic analytical skills and methodologies for large-scale data analysis. The module is complemented by research workshops on topics such as systematic literature reviews and academic writing to provide the background required to confidently choose techniques and methods suited to different types of data-sources and models.

Special Topics in Digital Transformation

This module covers the most topical issues in digital transformation. Students will have access to a pool of leading academics from across the University and international guest speakers that will provide theoretical grounding, principles and global practices in digital transformation. Digital advances such as cloud computing, internet of things, artificial intelligence (machine learning, robotics), augmented reality, 3D printing, blockchain and data science will allow the reimagining of new digital business models and how they can be leveraged to meet both business and social objectives. All our efforts are directed at shedding light on questions that the JBS, and businesses in the real world, deem to be interesting and important at this time.

Contact Information

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Supervised Research

Once the research proposal has been accepted, students will receive full registration as DPhil students (from your second year onwards). As a DPhil student you will be expected to pursue supervised research, culminating in a doctoral thesis which constitutes the examinable product for which the DPhil degree is eventually awarded.

The research that is produced should be of a publishable standard, thereby demonstrating an original contribution to the body of knowledge. Two articles ready for publication on the thesis content are required.

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The annual fee for the 2024 academic year is approximately R67 000.00

Deposit and terms – All students pay a deposit on acceptance of admission which is deducted from the programme fee.

South African students must pay a set deposit on admittance and ensure that 75% of the annual fee is paid 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.

Fee changes – Fees will be adjusted to make provision for annual price increases and JBS reserves the right to change the fees at any time.