Figuring out what to study can be bewildering, and it's easy to get confused by all the strange names for tertiary-level courses. To help you figure out what sort of course is right for you, we've written this short guide to the different types of qualifications and where they sit on the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF).
What's the difference between achieving NCEA Level 3 and getting University Entrance?
University Entrance (UE) describes the minimum requirement for entry into degree-level study at a New Zealand university, although you may be accepted via a Discretionary Entrance pathway or after completing a Foundation Certificate. University Entrance builds on the NCEA Level 3 certificate by requiring you to have 42 of your Level 3 credits in subjects that have been approved as preparation for university-level study.
To be awarded the NCEA Level 3 Certificate you need:
To achieve University Entrance you need:
Most tertiary providers offer bridging/foundation courses for students who have either not achieved University Entrance or who lack the specific achievement in Calculus, Physics or Chemistry required for entry into diplomas and degrees in engineering, IT, food technology and some science majors.
Learn more about bridging courses >>
NZQF Level 4-5: Certificate
Certificates generally take between six months to a year to complete if studying full-time.
NZQF Level 5-6: Diploma
Diplomas can be a great way to get quickly into a job in technology and engineering as they generally take two years of full-time study. Diploma graduates are in demand in industry, especially in engineering, as they have strong technical expertise and hands-on skills.
NZQF Level 7: Bachelor’s Degree, Graduate Certificate or Diploma
A Bachelor’s degree is the standard undergraduate degree and generally takes three years of full-time study to complete.
Graduate certificates and diplomas are a flexible way to study additional undergraduate-level courses after you've completed a degree.
NZQF Level 8: Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma
An Honours degree involves study at a more advanced level than a Bachelor's degree, and generally involves an independent project or short research thesis. It may be an undergraduate degree in itself, or a separate postgraduate degree that follows completion of a Bachelor's degree. Completing an Honours degree to an approved standard is necessary preparation for further postgraduate study, for example a Master's degree or doctorate.
Postgraduate certificates and diplomas generally involve completing courses at Honours level, but don't usually include a research project or thesis.
NZQF Level 9: Masters' Degree
A Master’s degree is a postgraduate qualification open to students who have completed an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree. It generally takes either one or two years to complete, and may involve courses at an advanced level or a thesis based on a research project. The Course Finder lists specialist Masters' degrees in subjects which may not be offered at undergraduate level.
NZQF Level 10: Doctorate/PhD
The Doctorate or PhD is the highest tertiary degree, and is generally only open to those who have already completed an Honours or Master’s degree. In order to be awarded a PhD, students must have undertaken extensive research and written a thesis over the course of three to five years.