Education in New Zealand is ideal for those who are used to a steady rhythm of life and appreciate an individual approach to the learning process. There are only eight universities in the country. Students study in small groups, which allows teachers to pay close attention to everyone. It is not possible to enroll in a bachelor’s program after graduating from the 11th grade — you will either have to study for a year in your home country, or go through a preparatory program. It is also necessary to have a high GPA, good English, and a creative motivation letter.

In this article, we will go into detail about the admission process in New Zealand. We also have separate articles about education and universities in this country.

Cost of education in New Zealand

ProgramMin. ageDurationMin. cost/yearAvg. cost/year
University preparation166-18 months4,573 USD15,042 USD
Bachelor's183-4 years14,440 USD24,066 USD
Master's211-2 years15,643 USD19,253 USD
MBA211 year19,133 USD31,286 USD
PhD223-4 years3,911 USD4,663 USD
Additional expenses

ExpenseAverage cost
Visa fee177 USD
Registration fee51 USD60 USD
Rent900 USD/month
Utilities123 USD/month
Meals48-72 USD/week
Internet54 USD/month
Phone bill11 USD/month
Transportation91 USD/month
Insurance24 USD/month451 USD/week

This list is for guidance only. Specify the exact costs and fees on the official website of your selected university.

Admission to universities in New Zealand

Options for admission to New Zealand universities

How to choose a university

There are two types of educational institutions in New Zealand:

  • 8 traditional universities
  • 15 technological universities of applied education

When choosing a future university, it is worth considering several main criteria.


The average cost of programs at traditional and technological universities is about the same. A year of bachelor’s study will cost 18,050-24,066 USD. This is quite expensive, so you should pay attention to scholarship opportunities.

New Zealand does not have a large state grant, but universities themselves offer scholarships for every level of higher education. While you should not count on full tuition coverage, a discount of 30-50% or a one-time payment of up to 6,017 USD is a realistic reward.

Foundation programs

It is not possible to enroll in a bachelor’s program after graduating from the 11th grade. One option is to go through a Foundation program. It is recommended to apply for a preparatory program at the university where you intend to study for your bachelor’s degree — the admission procedure will then be simplified or you will be enrolled automatically. There are Foundation programs at the University of Auckland, University of Otago, and Queen Victoria University of Wellington.


You should pay close attention to your field of study when choosing a university. Subject rankings from QS and THE can help guide you.

For example, New Zealand is paradise for anthropologists — the University of Auckland is ranked 37th in the world for anthropology.

Designers, as well as those who dream of devoting their lives to computer graphics, will also be pleased with this country. Massey University is one of the top 150 universities in the world for art and design[1]. After graduation, students can get a job at Weta FX, a well-known visual effects studio — it creates graphics and visual effects for many big-budget films.


New Zealand is distinguished by its relaxed atmosphere and steady rhythm. Whichever city you choose, you will definitely not get tired of the so-called hustle and bustle. Note that Auckland and Wellington offer more opportunities for entertainment, as well as internships and employment. As such, pay attention to the location of your future university.

Admission assistance

UniPage specialists have been working with universities in New Zealand for many years. Our students study at the University of Auckland, Massey University, UNITEC, and others. We help with the selection of universities and programs based on the capabilities and interests of our clients. We know everything about foreign education and do not miss a single detail when preparing documents and writing a motivation letter.

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Requirements for admission to New Zealand

Secondary education in New Zealand lasts 13 years. As such, you cannot enroll in a bachelor’s program after the 11th grade. In this case, there are two options for study:

  • Study for one year at the bachelor’s level in your home country
  • Enroll in a Foundation preparatory program at a university or accredited school
  • Complete IB courses

Documents for admission to a university in New Zealand:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy
  • Birth certificate
  • High school diploma with grade transcript
  • Transcript of bachelor’s study in your home country
  • English language proficiency certificate

There are no entrance exams at universities in New Zealand. However, admission is a bit more challenging for creative majors — portfolios and additional auditions may be required.

Some universities conduct interviews, where applicants are usually asked questions about their motivation, goals, and plans after study. Interviews are often conducted over the phone or online.

A motivation letter, recommendations, and an academic resume are most often required for master's and PhD programs, especially if there is a large competition in the program.

Specify the enrollment conditions and list of additional documents on the website of your chosen program. Pay close attention to the section for international students.

Legalization and recognition of a diploma in New Zealand

New Zealand adopted the 1961 Hague Convention, which means that an apostille is sufficient for your educational documents. They also need to be translated into English and notarized.

Application deadlines

The school year in New Zealand starts in March and ends in November. Most often, it is divided into two semesters, with classes starting in March and July. Some universities divide the year into trimesters. Each university sets its own deadlines for applications.

Deadlines at New Zealand universities
University of AucklandOctober 1st / July 4th
Auckland University of TechnologyFebruary 28th / July 18th
University of WaikatoFebruary 21st / July 4th / November 7th
Massey UniversityOctober 31st / May 1st / November 4th
Queen Victoria University of WellingtonDecember 1st / May 1st / September 1st
Lincoln UniversityFebruary 28th / July 25th
University of OtagoApril 30th / October 31st

Dates may vary by program. Specify them on the official website of the selected university.

Preparatory programs — Foundation in New Zealand

New Zealand has preparatory programs commonly known as Foundation. They last from 6 to 18 months and allow you to attain the "missing year'' for university enrollment.

Many universities, such as the University of Auckland, Massey University, and UNITEC, have their own preparatory programs. In them, students improve their level of English and study subjects in their future specialization.

At the end of the preparatory program, you can either be guaranteed admission to the desired university or receive credits.

Requirements for admission to preparatory programs are lower than for universities. IELTS 5.5 / TOEFL iBT 50 and a high school diploma with a grade transcript are sufficient for admission. Some programs require a high GPA, but most often this is not necessary. You also need to write a motivation letter.

Learn more about Foundation programs

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How to apply for a bachelor's degree

It is not possible to enroll in a bachelor’s program after the 11th grade — you will either have to study for a year in your home country, or go through a preparatory program.

The main requirement is a high school diploma with a grade transcript. The minimum required GPA depends on the university and program — usually, it is at least 5.0 out of 9.

Your English proficiency should be at the B2 level. Universities accept IELTS or TOEFL certificates.

New Zealand does not have a centralized application system. For admission, you need to register on the websites of universities, complete an application, and submit the required documents.

Documents for admission

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy
  • High school diploma with grade transcript
  • GPA — 5.0 out of 9
  • Transcript of bachelor’s study in your home country
  • IELTS 6.0 or TOEFL 80 iBT
  • Motivation letter

You may also need:

This list may vary depending on the university and program. All documents must be translated into English and notarized.

University of Waikato, New Zealand
University of Waikato, the oldest university in New Zealand

How to apply for a master’s degree

To enroll in a master’s program in New Zealand, you will need to provide a bachelor's degree in the same or related field with high grades — a GPA of 5.0-5.5 out of 9. Other achievements may also be evaluated, such as relevant work experience.

Language requirements are higher than those for bachelor’s programs — IELTS 6.5-7.0 or TOEFL 90-100 iBT. Also, you may need a motivation letter and recommendations from professors or employers.

In New Zealand, there are two types of master’s programs:

  • Graduate entry professional qualifications
  • Traditional master’s degrees, which in turn are divided into research or taught programs

Requirements slightly vary depending on the type of master's degree. For professional programs, work experience in a relevant field is required. For research programs, you will need a plan for a future dissertation and the contacts of a supervisor from the program faculty.

Documents for admission

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy
  • Bachelor’s degree with grade transcript
  • GPA — 5.5 out of 9
  • IELTS 6.6-7.0 or TOEFL iBT 90-100
  • Motivation letter
  • 2-3 recommendations

All documents must be translated into English and notarized.

MBA programs in New Zealand

To enroll in an MBA program in New Zealand, you will need a bachelor's degree in business, management, economics, or another related field. A GPA of at least 6.5/9 is required.

The application must be submitted directly to the selected university. Many programs accept applications all year round, but it is better to apply early in order to have time to apply for a visa.

Documents for admission:

  • Bachelor’s degree with grade transcript
  • IELTS 6.5, TOEFL 90, PTE 58
  • 3-5 years of work experience
  • Resume
  • GMAT 550 or university entrance exam
  • Recommendations from professors and employers
  • Interview with the admissions committee

How to apply for a PhD

To get into a PhD program in New Zealand, you will need a master's degree in a related field. The minimum required GPA is 6.0 out of 9.

The main requirement is to have experience in independent research by the time of admission. This can be confirmed by scientific publications, articles, or monographs.

PhD after bachelor’s study

In New Zealand, you do not always need to have a master's degree to enter PhD programs — you can also enroll after bachelor's study. To do this, you will need to prove your research abilities and experience through publications.

Such an opportunity exists, for example, at the University of Auckland[2] and the University of Otago[3]. The decision to accept an applicant after a bachelor's degree is made by the future supervisor.

PhD applicants must choose a future supervisor among the program faculty and send him a research proposal. Then, along with the admission documents for admission, you must provide his contacts and consent to supervise you to the admissions committee.

Medical and pedagogical programs may require at least two years of work experience in the field[4].

Documents for admission

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy
  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree with grade transcript
  • GPA — 6.0 out of 9
  • IELTS 6.0 or TOEFL iBT 90-100
  • Abstracts of scientific publications
  • For some programs, 2 years of work experience
  • Academic resume
  • Motivation letter
  • 2-3 recommendations
  • Research proposal and supervisor contacts

Sometimes, you need to go through an interview with the admissions committee and future supervisor.

All documents must be translated into English and notarized.

Application deadlines for PhD programs

PhD programs in New Zealand mostly consist of independent research. Students are not tied to class schedules. Therefore, enrollment in these programs takes place all year round.

Scholarship programs and grants usually have their own deadlines. Specify them if you wish to apply for funding.
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Scholarships in New Zealand

Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not have a major government scholarship fund. However, universities and independent organizations offer different funding options for students at all levels of study.

For example, bachelor’s and PhD students at the University of Auckland can receive up to 4,212 USD for high academic performance and achievements. And at Massey University, bachelor’s students do not have to pay tuition if they prove their outstanding achievements and provide credible recommendation letters.

A complete list of scholarships, depending on the nationality of the applicant, can be found on the official website of New Zealand state educational programs — New Zealand Education.

Student visa to New Zealand

To study at a university in New Zealand, you need to apply for a student visa. Its validity period is four years. The paperwork will cost 259 USD and the process takes around 2 months[5].

Documents for a student visa:

  • Passport
  • Acceptance letter from a university
  • Certificate of no criminal record with an apostille
  • Proof of tuition payment or scholarships
  • Proof of financial solvency at the rate of 12,033 USD per year
  • Medical insurance
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