Skip Navigation LinksHome Faculties College of Business and Economics Johannesburg Business School DPhil with specialisation in Digital Transformation

Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Digital Transformation

DPhil with specialisation in Digital Transformation

The wave of digital disruption is challenging current business paradigms and will certainly call for flexibility as boundaries between industries begin to blur and technopreneurs, through the agile and innovative application of technology, take market share away from unwieldy cartels. It also requires the reskilling of everybody, from the shop floor assistant to the chief executive officer of big companies, to deal with the amorphous and uncertain business environment.

The imperative is to extract the most value from digital technologies and emerging business models and ensure the survival of companies that still rely on outdated business models. The Johannesburg Business School (JBS) emphasises creating knowledge to develop new skills whilst ensuring relevance to the African context.

The JBS Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Digital Transformation aims to grow leaders who will find solutions to real-life challenges businesses and society face by using a combination of in-depth research and practical application, underpinned by academic rigour and critical thinking. We intend to equip doctoral candidates with research methodology skills and lay the foundations underpinning digital transformation to ensure success.

Who should enrol?

Applicants should be 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 master’s degree in business, economics, science and behavioural sciences will be required. However, the cross-disciplinary approach of the programme will also make provision for applicants with master’s degrees in the creative areas. We aim to create and develop knowledge relevant to challenges across a range of industries and sectors.

Admission requirements
A master’s degree in business, economics, science and behavioural sciences will be required. In addition, the cross-disciplinary approach of this DPhil programme will also make provision for applicants with master’s degrees in the creative areas, together with the general University entrance requirements for registration in a doctoral programme. Candidates with a master’s degree in a related discipline may also qualify at the sole discretion of the JBS.


2022 academic year: R60 000

Application fee: The application fee must accompany the application. The application fee is non-refundable.

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.

Important dates
Applications for 2022 admission opened in September 2021. All application materials for 2022 admission, including letters of recommendation, are due by 15 December 2021.

Use the following Course Code (P19DTQ: DPhil in Digital Transformation) for your application.

2019-10_UJ JBS_Orange line_v01.jpg

Programme overview
Transformation intends to understand the digital revolution’s impact on business and society, exploring how people and businesses need to work, interact, and prosper in this new era.

We believe that rigorous academic analysis can provide practical solutions to complex problems in society. Therefore, the DPhil is intended to develop research and discipline-based knowledge and skills in the field of digital transformation, focusing on understanding the impact of technology on business value and developing tools and frameworks for competitive advantage.

During the first year, students 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. At the end of the first year, students 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 coursework component and supervised research

A discipline-based core curriculum: This structured coursework component is non-credit bearing, but candidates are required to pass the requisite courses and submit a comprehensive proposal before proceeding with their thesis.

An independent research thesis: 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 (also referred to as PhD) is eventually awarded.

Programme structure
Year 1:
The first year has two blocks with two weeks each and a proposal defence. The lectures are organised in two blocks of two weeks each, and they will take place between February and May. The courses consist of highly interactive lectures, seminars and case discussions. Students are also required to defend their proposals before a review panel to register for the second year.

Year 2 and subsequent years
Full registration to work on your DPhil thesis under the guidance of a supervisor. Students will be required to present papers at a colloquium in May and October every year and submit progress reports. Upon completion, the submitted thesis will undergo an examination with external examiners and a viva voce 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 coursework and research proposal. A minimum full registration period of two years is required.

Structured coursework

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.

Module: 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, and critically assessing the findings presented in other studies. In addition, it will cover a wide spectrum of technologies and algorithms in machine learning. The module will teach basic analytical skills and methodologies for large-scale data analysis. It 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.

Module: Special Topics in Digital Transformation
This modules covers the most topical issues in digital transformation. Students will have access to a pool of leading academics from across the University of Johannesburg 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.

Supervised Research
Once the research proposal has been accepted, students will receive full registration as DPhil students (from second year onwards). DPhil students 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.

Please apply online for the JBS DPhil in digital transformation (Course Code: P19DTQ).

Membership & Accreditation
The Johannesburg Business School (JBS) is a member of the South African Business Schools Association (SABSA) and the Association of African Business Schools (AABS). Our Post-Graduate Diploma (PGDip) in Business Administration, Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Digital Transformation are accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).