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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.

The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is a 12-month work visa route and is part of the points-based system. 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. Supporting evidence from your School that you have been in good standing during studies, normally from your supervisor.
  2. Agreement from the Head of School or Director of Postgraduate Studies that they expect you to complete your course and be recommended for the award of PhD on the date of final submission.
  3. Signed Doctorate Extension Contract (to be returned to Registry).

The International Student Advisors are here to help you with your Tier 4 DES visa application. The team can check your application and supporting documents and post it to the UKVI Batch team on your behalf.

If your current visa expires before your expected date of award

Once you had your viva, you will be notified of your expected date of award. If you have corrections and your current visa is not valid 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. If you needed an ATAS certificate for your PhD, you will have to get a new ATAS certificate in order to apply for the Tier 4 visa extension.

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

Application form and costs

You can apply for the Tier 4 DES visa either by post or in-person (premium service). A postal application will cost you £475, priority postal £952 and an in person application will cost you £1085.

You can find the Tier 4 DES policy guidance and application form on the UKVI’s website. Please note they are the same application form and guidance as a Tier 4 General visa.


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 and 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 by emailing or phoning 01334 462720.

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

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

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.