How to Study in New Zealand for International Students (4 Steps)

New Zealand is one of the best places to live – and to study as well. For one, many of its universities are noted as some of the best in the world. They include the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, and the Victoria University of Wellington.

Given its well-known educational system, this oceanic nation provides world-class learning – coupled with a unique adventure!

If you are considering studying in any of its 8 state-funded universities or 16 institutes of technology, then make sure to read on. Here, you will learn about the basics of studying in New Zealand as an international student.

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How International Students Can Study in New Zealand

  • The first step of international students studying in New Zealand is the ability to finance their studies. This can be done in multiple ways including working while on breaks and studying, getting scholarships, paying it with your own money, and attending affordable universities in New Zealand. We will go over the cost later in this article.
  • After that, you need to prepare the application materials for New Zealand. This includes language requirements such as TOEFL, IELTS, and necessary documents such as transcripts and letter of recommendation.
  • Then, you will need to apply using the application materials that you’ve prepared in advance.
  • Finally, apply for a student visa.

We will cover these steps in more detail later in this article.

1. Preparing to Meet the Cost of Studying in New Zealand

Tuition fees for international students range from $14,130 to $20,553 (NZD 22,000 to 32,000). Masteral costs are more expensive at $17,660 to $25,100 (NZD 26,000 to 37,000) a year. Doctorate degrees are the cheapest, as international students pay the same rate as locals. Yearly Ph.D. tuition fees only cost about $4,400 to $6,100 (NZD 6,500 to 9,000).

As for the cost of living, prepare to pay anywhere from $1,520 to $1,920 a month. Although this may seem expensive, this amount already covers rent, food, transportation, internet, phone bills, and some entertainment.

2. Preparing General Application Requirements to Study in New Zealand for International Students

Get started with your New Zealand education by preparing these important requirements:

General English Requirements (Undergraduate)

In New Zealand where English is the official language, international students are expected to be proficient with the language. If you plan on applying at a Kiwi university, then you need to meet the following English proficiency test scores to be considered for admission:

  • IELTS = band 6
  • TOEFL iBT = 80
  • TOEFL PBT = 550-600
  • Cambridge English, Advanced = C1
  • Cambridge English Proficiency = C2
  • PTE Academic = 50-58

While these scores apply to most nationalities, exemptions will be given to citizens of English-speaking countries such as the USA, UK, Australia, Ireland, etc.

The above-mentioned scores apply to many universities including the University of Auckland. However, it has some conditions. For example, you shouldn’t have a band lower than 5.5 for the IELTS. In some programs, a higher IELTS band of 6.5 is required. As for the TOEFL exams, your written score should not be below 21.

The University of Otago has similar English requirements, though it allows a lower TOEFL PBT rating (550) yet a higher PTE score (58).

Due to the varying admissible scores throughout the different universities, it’s always best to check your university’s website for its preferred grades. Checking the university websites is one of the most important aspects of studying in New Zealand for international students.

General English Requirements (Graduate)

Higher English proficiency scores are required for graduate applicants. If you are applying for a Master’s or Doctorate, you need to have any of the following scores:

  • IELTS = band 6.5
  • TOEFL iBT = 90-95
  • TOEFL PBT = 587-680
  • PTE Academic = 58-64

Note that some other universities also allow other English tests. At the University of Auckland. Cambridge requirements for undergraduates also apply to post-graduate applicants.

Again, it has some conditions for the tests. Graduate students should have no band below 6 for the IELTS, and no score below 21 for the IELTS.

At the University of Otago, again, a lower TOEFL PBT is accepted (587). However, post-graduate applicants who took the PTE exam should bear a higher score of 64.

If your university is not mentioned in this list, be sure to check with your school’s admission bulleting to confirm its English proficiency requirements.

Application Requirements (Undergraduate)

As with most countries, a secondary school diploma is a primary requirement for admission to undergraduate programs. Other requirements include academic transcripts and proof of identity (notarized birth certificate or passport).

Remember, Kiwi universities factor in your grade upon admission. For example, at the University of Otago, an average grade of B (GPA of 2.7) is preferred.

At the University of Auckland, the preferred grade will depend on your program of choice. Traditionally, a grade equivalent to NZ’s GPE score of 4 is preferred.

To learn more about your university’s application requirements, be sure to check the official admissions website.

Application Requirements (Graduate)

Expectedly, more application documents are required for post-graduate students. Apart from a bachelor’s diploma, you also need to submit papers documenting your professional registration or previous work experience.

At the University of Otago, post-graduate students also need to submit a curriculum vitae and a detailed research proposal. You should also have the name of your preferred academic supervisor and a proposed start date at hand.

Meanwhile, at the University of Auckland, your requirements will depend on your desired course. Apart from a bachelor’s honors degree or post-graduate diploma, you may also need to submit details about your work experience.

As required documents vary from university to university, it’s best to always check your school’s admission portal for complete details.

3. Apply to Universities in New Zealand

The next step for international students to study in New Zealand is applying. The early bird gets the worm, so it’s best to submit your application on or before these deadlines:


NZ universities have varying deadlines for intake. With that being said, you need to check your university’s website for their application dates.

For example, at the University of Auckland, you can apply until July if you want to start second-semester schooling. It also has a special admissions schedule that ends on December 1.

At the University of Otago, first semester applications will be accepted throughout August. Meanwhile, applications for the second semester will be taken throughout April.

Applying will cost you about $16 to $32 (NZD 25 to 50).


Depending on the number of applicants, some post-graduate programs may have earlier deadlines than others. As such, you need to confirm the application period with your university website.

At the University of Auckland, most programs close their applications by early July. However, certain programs have an earlier deadline. For example, the Masters in Creative Writing and Energy intake ends in early April. The Doctor of Education application deadline is the end of May. Meanwhile, the Masters in Primary Teaching program only takes applicants until June.

At the University of Otago, international students who wish to study during the second semester can start their applications by the end of April. Should you wish to study the following year, you can start applying by the end of October.

Application fees range from $32 to $64 (NZD 50 to 100).

4. Apply for a Student Visa

There are various types of student visas in New Zealand. Perhaps the most common for international students is the fee-paying student visa that has a validity of 4 years. Apart from allowing full-time study, this visa also gives students a chance to work part-time (20 hours a week).

The requirements for a student visa are as follows:

  • Proof of identity – passport and 1 photo
  • Proof of health – medical exam and X-ray
  • Proof of good character – police certificates
  • Proof of genuine intention – travel history, declined visa applications (if any), evidence of home country circumstances
  • Offer of place – course name and length, school dates
  • Tuition fees – proof of paid fees or scholarships
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Funds – $9,666 (NZD 15,000) for a year or $805 (NZD 1,250) a month

New Zealand is a dream destination for anyone. After all, it is one of the best places to study – and live too. By meeting the requirements mentioned above, you can get an education that only a New Zealand university can provide.


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Australia Scholarships Page.