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Doctorate Extension Scheme

If you are studying for a doctorate, the Doctorate Extension Scheme might be of particular interest to you. This allows you to spend one year in the UK after you have completed your studies undertaking employment or self-employment. You have to apply before you finish your doctorate.

This is a 12 month work visa route and is part of the points-based system (PBS) and is called the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES). In order to qualify you for this new visa you must:

  • be on a Tier 4 (General) visa or a Student visa
  • be studying a PhD or other doctorate level qualification
  • apply before completing your course (expected submission date of the final version of your thesis)
  • apply up to 60 days before your course end date (submission date)
  • meet the financial requirement (maintenance)

You also need to:

  • apply from inside the UK
  • have a valid Tier 4 (General) visa or student visa at the time you apply.

How to apply

The first point of contact should be with the International Student Advisers and then if you wish to apply you will need to provide:

  1. Support from school that student has been in good standing during studies, normally from the supervisor.
  2. Agreement from Head of School/Director of Post-graduate Studies that they expect the student to complete their course and be recommended for the award of PhD on the date of final submission.
  3. Student has signed the Doctorate Extension Contract and returned it to Registry.

The International Student Advisors are here to help you with your Tier 4 DES visa application. The team can assist you with the online application, check your supporting documents and help book your biometric appointment online.

What if your current visa expires before your expected date of award?

Once you have had your viva, you will be notified of your expected date of award. If you have corrections and your current visa is not long enough to allow you to complete them, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 (general) visa extension. In order to be able to apply for this extension, International Student Advisors will have to create a new CAS for you.

The International Student Advisors can help you with your online Tier 4 (General) visa extension application.

Application form and costs

You can apply for the Tier 4 DES visa online. For each person, you’ll need to pay:

  • £475 to extend this visa
  • the healthcare surcharge (£300)
  • £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken

If you want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, you can pay an extra:

  • £477 for the priority service to get a decision within 10 working days
  • £610 for the super priority service to get a decision within 1 working day

You can find the application link on the UKVI’s website. Please note the online information and application is the same as the information and application for the Tier 4 (General) Student visa extension


If you have dependants in the UK with you, they will be able to extend their stay by applying for a visa extension as a Tier 4 DES dependant.

If your dependants are not currently in the UK, they will be able to join you by applying for a Tier 4 DES dependant entry clearance visa. More information and guidance can be found on the UK Visas & Immigration website.

More information

If you have any queries about the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa please do not hesitate to contact the International Student Advisors. Appointments can be made by emailing

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Advice and Support Centre
79 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 (46)2020


Student services

Eden Court
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AS
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: 01334 462720
Fax:01334 464007

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Encountered any difficulties?

Not the right match?  If you haven’t formed a good rapport with your Adviser or you’ve encountered any difficulties and wish to speak informally to someone, please contact Ruth Unsworth ( or Lara Meischke (, Deputy Directors of Student Services, in the first instance.

Please also be aware that the University has Complaints Handling Procedure for formally addressing concerns.


  • Book an Appointment online