DPhil in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy | University of Oxford
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DPhil in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

About the course

The part-time DPhil in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is offered by the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (OCTC) in collaboration with the Department for Continuing Education. Applicants are welcome from outside Oxford, and outside the UK.

This part-time DPhil is normally carried out over eight years, equivalent to four years of full-time study, although it may take less time in certain circumstances.

The chosen topic of a DPhil in CBT should have a significant focus on issues related to cognitive behavioural theory and/or practice, for example: the development of a  better understanding of the cognitive and behavioural aspects of a problem; developing an aspect of CBT to address a particular disorder; exploring theoretical or methodological issues in relation to cognitive behavioural practice etc.  

The DPhil in CBT should focus on a primary research topic relevant to the theory, principles and practice  of interventions, including both group and individual treatments, third wave approaches, self-help based approaches and supervision. Examination for the DPhil is by submission of a thesis and oral examination.

You will be strongly encouraged to participate in seminars and informal meetings with staff and other researchers. The major commitment of time will be to individual study and research.

As a student on this course you will have an identified Oxford-based supervisor who is interested in your research ideas and, in some instances, you will also need to identify a field supervisor who can closely monitor and advise on your practical research.

A good supervisory relationship is crucial to research. The relationship between supervisor and supervisee can be a very personal one, therefore it is important that you ensure that your supervisor understands the research concepts and that there is agreement about the potential and the direction of the research. Both supervisor and supervisee must be able to make a commitment to the project that will span several years and must agree to regular meetings. 

Graduate destinations

DPhil students on this course are expected to be established CBT practitioners and the extensive research that they carry out will further their development as a specialist practitioner. This might be in a clinical, research or training capacity—or indeed all of these areas. 

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a related field of study.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

Alternatively, this requirement can be demonstrated by successfully completing a course equivalent to the PGCert in Cognitive Behavioural TherapyPGCert in Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or PGDip in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Although a previous master's degree is not required, it will strengthen your application to have completed a master's with a distinction grade in a relevant subject. 

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.


Publications are not required, but would advantage an application. 

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Awards of national prizes, scholarships etc would advantage an application.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
  • Under exceptional circumstances, a supervisor may be found outside the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre. In such circumstances, a second internal supervisor may be appointed.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.


Students on the DPhil in CBT course will have access to the full range of Oxford's library and computing facilities. 

However, as this is a part-time degree course, it is anticipated that you will have study facilities within your own place of work/research. It is also anticipated that you will have access to experimental facilities and subjects and that these will not be provided by OCTC.

Relevant seminars and/or tutorials will be held within OCTC and when necessary, study space will be made available to you.

You will have the opportunity to network within OCTC and attend events organised by OCTC.

As this is a matriculated course, you will be a member of an Oxford college and have access to the social, study and networking facilities of that college.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.


Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)
c. £2,125£1,511c. £3,636

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.


The following colleges accept students for full-time study on the DPhil in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

How to apply

It is crucial that you liaise with OCTC academic staff to discuss the feasibility of your research and secure the agreement of one or more potential supervisors for your work before you apply.

You are also encouraged to communicate with OCTC administrators in order to refine your application using the contact details on this page.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Research proposal and statement of purpose:
Proposal of 2,000 words and statement of up to 500 words

Your proposal and statement should be submitted as a single, combined document with a clear subheading for each.

You should also submit a research proposal comprising a detailed outline of your intended research, written in English. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

You should also submit a personal statement (statement of purpose) explaining your reasons for applying to the programme and highlighting your relevant academic and professional experience. The statement should also be written in English.

Your proposal and statement will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • the coherence of the proposal
  • the originality of the project
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.

The topic of your work should be relevant to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

Your work will be assessed for:

  • comprehensive understanding of the subject area
  • understanding of problems in the area
  • ability to construct an defend an argument
  • powers of analysis
  • powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, one professional and two academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

A professional reference attesting to your skills as a CBT therapist and clinician is acceptable as one of your letters of recommendation. Other references should be from referees familiar with your work in an academic setting. 

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work independently.