Education systems in New Zealand

Secondary Education in New Zealand

  • Year 9 to 13, typically for students from the age of 13 to 18.
  • After successful completion of assessments in Years 11 through to year 13 the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), which is made up of three levels, is awarded to students

Tertiary Education in New Zealand

Vocational Study

  • Offered at Polytechnics, Institutes of Technology and private tertiary and training establishments.
  • Students can achieve certificates, diplomas and degrees in a diverse range of subjects.

Bachelor’s Degree

  • During the admissions process students get evaluated on their NCEA results as well as other criteria.
  • A Bachelor’s degree typically lasts for 3 years at university.
  • An Honours degree is awarded after an additional year of research at university.

Graduate study in New Zealand

Master’s Degree

  • A Master's degree typically last for 2 years at university.
  • An Honours degree is awarded after an additional year of research; however it is only awarded to students who do not already have an Honours degree.

Doctoral Degree

  • Requires a student to have either a Master’s degree or Bachelor’s degree with Honours.

International students

International students who wish to study in New Zealand must prove their English language aptitude. Students should contact the admissions office at each school to find out which tests are accepted. The following tests may be accepted:
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Cambridge English for Speaker of Other Languages (ESOL) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

International students may also take a foundation course in a variety of specialty areas in order to smoothly transition into an undergraduate program in New Zealand.

Kaplan International Colleges Auckland and Christchurch offers expert IELTS preparation and Cambridge Exam courses to help international students achieve higher test scores and opening doors to more universities and tertiary institutions in New Zealand.

If it is your aim to get a degree from a New Zealand university, or a qualification from a higher education provider, the Kaplan International Colleges University Placement Service (UPS) will help you gain entry. Student using this service will benefit from our extensive network of partner institutions and our long experience of guiding students through the admission process.

For more information, visit NCEA, NZQA or the Ministry of Education

View a diagram of the routes to university or college in New Zealand.

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