Doctor of Philosophy in Child Rights, Childhood and Family Studies

About the Programme

The degree programme aims to develop a knowledge base in child rights and social constructions on childhood and family from African perspectives and create a steady flow of national and international experts who are committed to the realisation of the rights of children in the design and implementation of research, policies and programmes.

The programme is designed for professionals who work with children’s rights issues including: lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, judges, law enforcement officers, social workers, teachers, government officials, and staff from non-governmental organisations, academics and journalists.



  1. To equip students with knowledge and skills in child rights and childhood studies anchored in the African perspectives.
  2. Provide participants with opportunities to acquire advanced, extended and specialised knowledge in children’s rights and child focused policies in their theoretical as well as in their practical dimensions through the introduction of different concepts and approaches;
  3. Foster both an international and an interdisciplinary approach to the study of children’s rights and produce knowledge, innovative methodology and tools for policies and strategies.
  4. Stimulate the development of experts in the field of child protection research, with transferable intellectual, policy analysis and research skills in child centred policy and programme design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation, who can make a socially responsible contribution to the field of child protection globally
  5. To introduce, develop and foster an Afrocentric conceptualisation and policy framework in childhood studies and child rights


Entry Requirements

  1. A candidate applying for admission into a Doctoral Degree programme at Africa University must possess a Master’s degree in the relevant field of study. In addition, the candidate must provide official transcripts as evidence of the following:
  2. coursework in a relevant field of study at the Masters level AND
  3. A minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.0 (B) or equivalent at the Masters level.
  4. As part of the application process, all doctoral degree applicants must provide a copy of their Master’s degree dissertation as evidence of their research accomplishments.
  5. The CSSTHE Board will recommend for admission to the GSC, applicants who obtained a Master’s degree by research.
  6. Applicants should submit with their applications a Motivation Statement written in English.
  7. As part of the application process, applicants will be required to have an interview with the CSSTHE. If so, the interview will be conducted in English.

Structure of the Doctor of Philosophy in Child Rights and Childhood Studies

  1. The Doctoral Degree shall be by research.
  2. The duration of the programme shall normally be 3-5 years for full-time students. The Dean of the CSSTHE may recommend exceptions for consideration by the GSC.
  3. The maximum duration of the registration period for full-time study shall not exceed seven academic years.
  4. The maximum duration of the registration period for part-time study shall not exceed nine years.
  5. The Programme of Study shall normally consist of scheduled research and written thesis chapters under the guidance and supervision of a Doctoral Committee.
  6. The length of the thesis shall be determined by the student's Doctoral Committee.
  7. A student who fails to complete the thesis within the specified period may apply for an extension of registration period to the GSC through the Dean of the CSSTHE.
  8. A student will not normally be permitted to break the continuity of his/her studies, although a student may be allowed to suspend registration for a maximum period of one year on the approval of the GSC after a recommendation from the Dean of CSSTHE.
  9. A student may not normally be allowed to change from full-time to part-time or vice-versa without the written consent of the GSC, upon the recommendation of the CSSTHE Board.

Thesis Proposal

All doctoral students shall write and defend a thesis proposal before their Doctoral Committee.

  1. Students shall write and defend a Thesis Proposal before their Doctoral Committee.
  2. Students shall take an oral Thesis Proposal Defence Examination during the first semester of their programme.
  3. Thesis Proposal Defence Examinations shall be graded by the three members of the Doctoral Committee.
  4. A student will require a minimum average of 70 percent to pass a Thesis Proposal Defence Examination.
  5. A student who is successful in the Thesis Proposal Defence Examination shall proceed to thesis research
  6. A student who is not successful in defending the thesis proposal the first time shall be given a second opportunity to do so. Failure at the second attempt will lead to dismissal from the programme.

This programme is tailor-made for those who want to work in commissioning, conducting or applying research; as well as those working (or aspiring) to shape policy and practice.  This will enable them to address pressing issues in relation to children and those who work in close contact with children. Students can go on to get jobs in the following sectors:

  1. Child welfare
  2. Health
  3. Criminal Justice
  4. Education
  5. Political science
  6. Law enforcement
  7. Social sciences including social policy
  8. International development
  9. Voluntary and private sector
  10. Academia, government and non-government organisations.