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New Zealand Education System


The higher education system in New Zealand presents two main pathways to students: on one side, universities offering “traditional” teachings; and on the other, institutes delivering professional and vocational training.

 University courses

  • Bachelor’s degrees: the equivalent to the French It is a prerequisite for master’s degree programs and to apply to most jobs. It takes three to five years to complete depending on the subject chosen.
  • Postgraduate Certificates: these programs are a way to gain professional skills in a given subject; they are also a great way to enhance a Bachelor’s degree. Students wishing to pursue postgraduate studies in a different field than the one they studied in previously may have to study for a Postgraduate Certificate first. These programs usually take six months to complete.
  • Postgraduate diplomas: these studies help students broaden their knowledge, or specialize in a domain they didn’t get to study during their undergraduate degree. These diplomas can also help students meet master’s degree admission requirements. These programs last about a year.
  • Master’s degrees: these programs help students specialize in their field, beyond an undergraduate diploma. These can last between 18 months to 3 years; they combine theoretical and practical teachings with a research component.
  • PHD: the French equivalent to a doctorat. It is aimed at students wishing to engage in research in a specific domain. A Master’s degree is usually a prerequisite to apply to a PhD. This takes between two and four years to complete.

 Professional and Vocational Training

  • Certificates: there are four levels of certificates validating professional skills. The higher the level of your certificate, the more likely you are to get a high-responsibility job in a company.
  • Diplomas: this can take one or two years to complete; it combines theoretical classes with applied learning. This program allows students to develop technical and/or creative skills at a high level.
  • Advanced diplomas: similar to a French BTS or DUT, the advanced diploma is slightly higher than a regular diploma. It takes 2 to 3 years to complete. Many advanced diplomas allow students to transfer to a bachelor’s degree.



Admissions are by application only. International students must show English proficiency. To do so, they have to take the IELTS or the TOEFL. Study Experience holds various partnerships with institutions providing intensive preparation to both these exams. Contact us for more information.

The application must include previous transcripts and diplomas as well as a cover letter, a CV, and recommendation letters. Students are encouraged to submit their application at least six months before the start of classes.


Academic Year

In New Zealand semesters start in February and in July. Most domestic and international students start their programs in February, just after the summer holidays.


For more information on the higher education system in New Zealand, or to ask about our partner universities, get in touch with a member of the Study Experience team.

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