How to Apply to a University in New Zealand in 2023

by Luna Erica

We know that New Zealand has often been voted as one of the most beautiful and peaceful countries in the world, but did you know that it‘s also a great place to study in?

With the country’s beauty, the people’s hospitality, and the schools’ implementation of the renowned British education system, attending a Kiwi university is often considered an adventurous but great option.

Since New Zealand teaches its programmes in English, that should not be a problem either. Be that as it may, there are still some things to look at when applying to a university in New Zealand.

1. Decide on one of the top universities in New Zealand

These are some great universities to consider when you’re applying for uni in New Zealand:

But fun fact: All eight universities in New Zealand are in the top 3% of the QS World University Rankings. That means that whatever your choice, the school’s ranking, at least, will be good.

Find Masters in New Zealand

2. Prepare to apply

Before applying to a university in New Zealand, make sure to research your options well. You can check out and compare various Bachelor’s and Master’s courses in New Zealand online. On the official programme page, you’ll find admission requirements, fees, and any other information you may need.

It’s also good to have a look at the English language requirements that you may need to be entered into the university. Since the courses will generally be in English, you may need to provide proof that you speak it well.

The next thing to check is if you need a student visa. If you’re not a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident, you will need to apply for a visa with the government after you’re accepted to your university of choice. It’s best to do this as soon as you have the proof of acceptance because a visa can take a while to be issued. If you are only staying for a short while, you may not need a visa. Consult the government website to see if this applies to your nationality and for how long you’re allowed to stay in New Zealand without a visa.

And hey, it’s never a bad idea to see if you qualify for a New Zealand scholarship. To apply for the Studyportals Scholarship, fill in the form. Who knows – you may end up living a student’s life of luxury!

Queenstown, New Zealand

3. How to apply

First of all, make sure you have all your documents collected. The university website should outline exactly what documents you’ll need, and we’ve provided a more detailed list later on in this article as well.

The next step is to send in your application. For universities in New Zealand, this happens through the university’s own application portal. Be sure to find the portal as soon as you know where you’d like to study and start your application so that if you run into any problems, you can still contact the university. Mind that it can take well over a week for them to reply if you message them at an unlucky time. In theory, though, all you have to do is go to their website, fill out the application forms, attach the required documents, submit it all, and wait…

For the university’s response! This letter will be completely honest in telling you whether they think you’re a good fit for the university, and it will prepare you for what’s to come. Unfortunately, what’s to come includes paying the fees. That’s what you’ll be doing next. Still, all the annoying administration work that follows – paying fees; applying for a visa; getting yourself properly insured – will be worth it.

Applying for a student visa can be done on the New Zealand Government website. On there, they explain in detail which forms to fill out, what documents you’ll need, and how long all that should take you. And that’s your ticket into the country! Well, sort of. You’ll also need to get a plane (or boat) ticket, of course.

4. Make sure you meet the language requirements

To study in New Zealand, you may need to provide your university with proof of English proficiency. Generally, schools will ask you for an IELTS Academic certificate, but there are alternatives you could send in. It differs per university which ones they accept. The University of Auckland, for instance, lists these:

  • IELTS Academic
  • C1 Advanced (previously - Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE))
  • C2 Proficiency (previously - Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE))
  • University of Auckland Foundation Certificate in English for Academic Purposes (FCertEAP)
  • University of Auckland English Pathway for Undergraduate Studies (EPUS)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE)
  • LanguageCert - International ESOL
  • AEMG English for Academic Purposes Direct Entry Program (AEAP DEP) Final Exam

Since this is only one uni’s list, be sure to check the requirements for your own university and see which certificates they accept.

5. Gather the required application documents

Although each university requires different documents for your application, there are some things you could already arrange if you’re planning to study in New Zealand. Here are some examples:

  • motivation letter
  • certified copy of either your high school diploma or that of a previously completed degree
  • translation of the course modules and grades (if not in English)
  • proof of language proficiency
  • copy of your passport
  • passport photo
  • proof of payment of the application fee
  • resume
  • sample of previous academic work

Again, check the official application requirements carefully and have all these documents safely stored and backed up in one or two files on your computer. You really don’t want to lose them in the process.

Find Masters in New Zealand

6. Keep an eye on the application deadlines

At long last, the deadline will arrive. Application deadlines for New Zealand universities will differ per school. Find the application deadlines for your semester on the university website and make sure you have everything in order at least a few days before that deadline, just in case disaster strikes and the internet cuts out last-minute.

Generally, to start in February/March (Semester 1), application deadlines in New Zealand are in October, November and December. If you’re starting in July (Semester 2), your deadline will be in March, April, May or early July. Be sure to check the exact deadlines for your university at the start of the application process, so you don’t run into any nasty surprises along the way.

And once the deadline has passed and your application safely arrived, it’s a matter of waiting, waiting, waiting… Until that thrilling Kiwi letter arrives!

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