The purpose of this paper is to discuss both the status of the PhD in South Africa and the feasibility of the country’s aspiration to increase by fivefold the production of PhDs by 2025. Based on the first empirical studies on doctoral education in South Africa, it is argues that in order to move towards this target an expanded and coordinated effort is necessary. This includes the removal of barriers that hinder the expansion of the South African higher education system. In particular the paper highlights insufficient funding, policy that stands in the way of expansion, scarcity of students and limited supervisory capacity, lack of recognition in the value of the doctorate and higher learning as well as limited and inadequate partnerships. The main question is whether South Africa can achieve the desired outcome by following international trends or whether the expansion target is merely a pipedream.