Stress during doctoral study is common; however, its presence is of concern to students as it has a deleterious impact on well-being and performance, and to the university which has a duty of care to students and the desire to promote a supportive research environment. This article reports on the qualitative findings from an online survey that sought to identify students’ experiences related to stress during the early-stage doctoral study. All newly enrolled PhD students at the University of Otago (New Zealand) received invitations to participate and respond to two questions related to stress during the early-stage doctoral study. In total, 152 survey responses were acquired from 352 first-year PhD students (response rate 43.2%). Nine main areas of concern were identified from an inductive thematic analysis of participants’ responses. Key stressors were time pressure, uncertainty about doctoral processes, sense of belonging in scholarly communities, and financial pressures. Some findings are contrary to previous research with novel perceptions on the student–supervisor relationship, different financial issues, and transition stresses contrary to previous research; this may reflect the changed academic landscape of doctoral studies. Findings provide insight into potential support strategies to better support early-stage PhD students.