PhD Students to do Coursework before doing Research

Doctorate students taking communication studies at the University of Nairobi (UoN) will from September be required to take course work for at least one-and-a-half academic years before doing research as per the new rules by the Commission for University Education (CUE).

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is the first department at the university to have its taught doctorate programme’s curriculum approved.

All Universities across the country were supposed to come up with the programmes and have them approved by their senates and CUE by the end of last year.


UoN Vice-chancellor Peter Mbithi has since directed various schools and departments to work round the clock to ensure that the new policy is implemented.

Prof Mbithi also instructed heads of departments at the university to ensure they deliver solid programmes that can attract students from all over the world.

“The quality assurance team at the university should work with individual departments and schools to ensure degree programmes meet the commission’s and international requirements,” said the VC.

“I wish to congratulate all those who drafted this curriculum to ensure high quality in line with CUE [requirements],” Prof Mbithi told the senate after the document got a thumps-up from the institution’s professors.


He thanked the school’s director, Dr Ndeti Ndati, and his deputy, Dr Samuel Siringi, for working closely with the head of the Graduate School, Prof Lydia Njenga, to develop the curriculum.

Following the order, the university’s principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof Enos Njeru, called a meeting of the college academic board to ascertain that the college, which has about 60,000 students, was ready to offer its programmes this year.

“As a college, we are determined to ensure that our envisaged course work for PhD programmes are of the highest quality that will continue to put the institution on world academic map,” Prof Njeru said.


The move now means that the school can start the process of admitting the first batch of students to the programme expected to start in September.

Until last year, local universities were allowed to offer doctorate degrees through research and thesis, a practice that CUE has banned beginning this year.

Since 2017, universities have been burning the midnight oil developing new curricula for the doctorate degree programmes to comply with the CUE rule that requires students to undertake course work for at least one academic year before moving into research and theses writing.

The commission stopped the award of doctorate degrees to students who directly conduct research and are taught through seminars, saying such a system produced weak graduates.


The new order is expected to bring order in the education sector after a damning report released in 2017 indicated that some degrees issued by some local universities were questionable.

Doctorate students will only be allowed to write their theses after completing course work, failure to which their degrees will not be recognised.

University of Eldoret Vice-Chancellor Teresa Akenga said the institution has implemented the directive by CUE.

“We have already implemented [it] such that all our PhD students take course work,” Prof Akenga said.

Maasai Mara University Vice-chancellor Mary Walingo said all programmes at the institution have course work.


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