New Zealand has a solid reputation as a famous tourist destination, however international students won’t simply travel there for attractive landscapes, life, and a few sporting opportunities.

Well, you’ll be able to do all of those while studying a Masters in New Zealand on low-cost or low tuition, of course, and you’ll also have good access to a good type of postgraduate programs offered at internationally-renowned universities.

Here you’ll be able to know however postgraduate degrees work within the New Zealand university system, what the visa requirements are for international students and a lot of.

Elsewhere during this section, you’ll be able to additionally read specific guides to fees and funding and student life for postgraduates in New Zealand.

Why Study Masters in New Zealand?

There are several fantastic reasons to study a Masters program in New Zealand. You would  be looking at indulging your sense of adventure while studying for a postgraduate degree – in which case you’ll have a lot to keep you busy in a beautiful country that offers snow-capped ski-resorts and sub-tropical ocean water.

Or maybe you are a very dedicated fan of The Lord of the Rings, with  plans to visit the beautiful landscapes made famous by recent blockbuster movie adaptations.

Indeed there are several other reasons to study in New Zealand. Here are just a few reasons to consider postgraduate study in New Zealand this year:

  • Internationally-renowned universities – Currently there are only eight universities in New Zealand, four of these feature in the world’s top 350 (according to Times Higher Education). When you think about it, that’s a pretty impressive proportion right there.
  • A familiar education system modelled on the UK’s – New Zealand university programs and degrees are recognized globally.
  • Fantastic Quality of life – New Zealand consistently appears near the top of various quality of life metrics, with a strong reputation for being one of the world’s least corrupt and most peaceful country.
  • A welcoming attitude to international students – Did you know around 25% of New Zealand’s population was born abroad, and the country is known for its tolerance and diversity.

New Zealand universities

With only eight universities, New Zealand isn’t home to the largest higher education system in the world, but the degrees it awards are renowned internationally.

Universities in New Zealand

All of New Zealand’s universities are publicly-funded institutions, thus offering a wide range of Masters degrees. They are split almost evenly between the two main islands that make up New Zealand:

  • AUT University, University of Auckland, Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington and Waikato University are located on the North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui).
  • The University of Canterbury, University of Otago and Lincoln University are located on the South Island (Te Waipounamu).

All of these universities offer Masters degrees and you can study at any of them as an international student.

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP)

The New Zealand higher education system rightly includes a number of Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics. These institutes specialise in vocational courses and other postgraduate degrees in areas such as nursing, midwifery, art and design and others.

Thus, an ITP can therefore be an excellent choice for postgraduate students desiring a professional Masters-level qualification in New Zealand.

The academic year in New Zealand

Just like the rest of the southern hemisphere, New Zealand starts its academic year sometime in February. The academic calendar is then split into two semesters, running from February to June and from July to November.

As a Masters student you have the flexibility of starting your degree in either semester. Masters courses are usually available to start in either February or July, although some professional courses might be available to start in semester 1 (February).

How long do Masters degrees take in New Zealand?

Traditional Masters programmes in New Zealand usually last for two years. The first year is taught by coursework, the second year is research based.

There are now also a wide range of primarily taught Masters courses in New Zealand, which usually last for just one year. Research Masters are usually longer, with programs up to two years long.

Fees and funding

So Masters fees in New Zealand aren’t controlled or monopolized by the government,  the exact amount vary from institution to institution and programme to programme. Additionally, the cost of a Masters would also depend on your nationality – local students in New Zealand are eligible to pay tuition fees at a considerably cheaper rate than international students.

As an international student, you should expect to pay an amount between NZD $26,000-37,000 (USD $17,830-25,380) per year for a Masters. Arts and Humanities subjects will be at the lower end of the spectrum, while Science and Engineering subjects will be near the top.

Applying for a Masters in New Zealand

Universities in New Zealand are free to set their own admissions processes, but all will welcome applications from prospective international students.

Admissions criteria

Entry criteria will vary slightly between different programme types:

  • Academic Masters programmes in New Zealand will generally require an undergraduate degree in a related subject area. This may not have to be the exact same subject as your postgraduate degree, but it should have some relevance. A Masters in History might build on a Bachelors in Literature, for example, but probably not on an undergraduate Physics degree.
  • Professional Masters programmes in New Zealand may often require relevant work experience from local and international students. Note that this is less likely for graduate entry qualifications, but will be a prerequisite for most professional development courses.

If  a uni programme requires an undergraduate degree, they may specify a minimum result. Usually this should be a 2:1 or higher (roughly equivalent to a US GPA of 3.0 or better) but again universities may choose to modify their requirements. If  it happens you have not received your desired degree result but are submitting a strong application, you may still be considered.

Application deadlines

Application deadlines for Masters degrees in New Zealand vary according to the semester in which a course begins:

  • For a Masters beginning in semester one (February-June) you are expected to apply by the 31st of October in the preceding year.
  • For a Masters starting in semester two (July-November) do well to apply by the 30th of April in the year your course commences.

Application process

There are different ways to apply for a Masters in New Zealand as an international student:

There is the opportunity of applying directly to universities, most of which will offer application guidelines online (you can view application requirements for individual courses by searching specific Masters programmes in New Zealand).

  • Alternatively, applicants from the UK and Ireland can apply via Study Options.Note This is a free service, which offers independent assistance and advice.

Application requirements

The most important part of your application for a New Zealand Masters degree will usually be proof of your existing qualifications or experience (as appropriate). In addition to these, you may need to submit:

  • Academic transcripts – Universities in New Zealand will generally ask to see a certified transcript, highlighting the modules you studied and the grades received. Please get in touch with your university and request that this be prepared for you.
  • References – Not all programs will generally require references. If you are told to provide some you can include statements from tutors, employers or other people with experience of you in an academic or professional context.
  • A personal statement –There’s a high chance you’ll be asked for a personal statement as part of your application to a professional development programme or a Masters by Research (where it may be associated with your project proposal).


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