Composition Of University Degrees In New Zealand

New Zealand universities offer a wide range of degrees – Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral. Besides these, a host of undergraduate and postgraduate diploma’s are also offered along with an Honour’s programme, which usually means a student can specialize in a subject by studying an additional year with advanced level of courses in that subject.

You will find that the study pattern is incremental in nature, with each year of study undertaken often being awarded with a certificate or diploma thus getting the student one step closer to their goal of degree. However, one must be careful in choosing these certificates and diplomas- the incremental accumulation of credits should depend on the units or courses studied that will eventually make up the degree level.

Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s degree usually requires a student to study 3 years – with an additional year for the Honour’s programme.

To complete a degree, it is necessary to complete a prescribed number of units or courses at the three levels or years- the first year being the stage 1 or 100 level, the second year being stage 2 or 200 level and the third year being stage 3 or 300 level.

Besides class room study, field trips, personal reading and research projects may be part of the degree programme. This helps students develops independent skills that are valued in prospective employees.

Students can further specialize by doing the additional year of Honour program, which is considered the first year or ‘graduate’ or even ‘post graduate’ level of study in that subject.

Graduate Diploma

This is a one year full time study programme for students who have not got the grades required to study a postgraduate programme or want to pursue a subject different to that studied at the Bachelor’s level. This year of study helps students ‘bridge’ the gap before taking up post graduate studies.

Postgraduate Diploma

This is a one-year full time class work study course and can be undertaken if the student qualifies for post graduate studies directly or after the ‘bridging’ Graduate Diploma. It is the preliminary year of the Master’s degree and builds on the subject matter of the courses taken at the bachelor’s degree level..

Master’s Degree

This is usually a two year study programme, which can be completed in one year if the student already has completed the Bachelor Honour year or Postgraduate Diploma with required grades. The Master’s degree requires an extensive input of thesis work, and therefore sometimes may be quite competitive for students not having enough background work in research.


The main Doctorate Offered by New Zealand universities is the PhD or Doctor of Philosophy.

This wholly research-based programme can take a minimum of 3 and often has to be completed within a finite number of years. Being thesis based, the students are expected to work extensively on his own but under supervision of the appointed guide. Admission requires very good academic record at the Bachelor’s and Master’s level, besides a propensity towards research work.

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