Study Medicine in New Zealand: 7 Things to Know

If you’re looking for a peaceful country to study Medicine in English, then you should consider New Zealand. This oceanic country boasts of world-renowned universities and complete medical facilities. Although there are only 4 medical schools in the country, all of them accept international students. That being said, you should learn these important things about studying medicine in New Zealand before you go and apply:

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1. What are the requirements to study medicine in New Zealand?

Requirements for the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) degree in New Zealand depend on the program.

Undergraduate Applicants

High school graduates are required to apply for a one-year program leading to medical school. At the University of Otago, this is called the Health Sciences First Year program (HSFY). At the University of Auckland, options for first-year studies include a Bachelor’s in Health Science or a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Science.

The primary requirement for any of these one-year programs is a secondary school diploma.

After finishing this year-long program, students may finally apply for the MB ChB program.

At the University of Otago, the requirements for medical school admission are as follows:

  • Completed prescribed documents at first attempt, with a minimum score of 70% for each paper.
  • Passing marks in the HSFY English Diagnostic Test or ENGL 126
  • Good University Clinical Assessment or UCAT score (threshold is determined annually).

At the University of Auckland, applicants should be able to accomplish the following to be admitted:

  • GPA of 8.0 throughout the first-year courses
  • Good Clinical Selection Test (UCAT) Results
  • Multiple Mini Interviews

Graduate Applicants

The graduate entry program at the University of Otago is open to students who have completed a degree in a New Zealand university within the last 3 years. At the University of Auckland, you could apply even if you have finished your degree five years prior, given that you have a minimum GPA of 6.0.

Expectedly, applicants should submit the transcripts of their bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s honours degree, or bachelor’s degree with a postgraduate diploma.

At the University of Otago, graduate applicants need to meet the UCAT threshold score to be considered for admission.

At the University of Auckland, the UCAT is not necessary for foreign graduate students. However, they are required to participate in multiple mini interviews as well.

Mirror on Society Selection Policy Applicants

Through this pathway, students of Maori or indigenous Pacific heritage may apply for the MB ChB program. Those with ancestries that can be traced back to such regions may apply:

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands
  • Easter Island (Rapanui)
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Hawaii
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia
  • New Caledonia
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Rotuma
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

The Mirror on Society pathway is also available to refugees, rural-based students, or applicants with socioeconomic problems.

2. In what language do you study medicine in New Zealand?

New Zealand medical schools teach the curriculum in English. As such, applicants whose first language is not English should demonstrate proficiency by taking certain exams to study medicine in New Zealand.

At the University of Otago, foreign students should present any of these minimum scores:

  • IELTS – 6.0 (no band below 5.5)
  • TOEFL iBT – 80
  • TOEFL PBT – 550
  • CAE or CPE – 176
  • PTE – 58

For some nationalities, certain high school marks are accepted. For Fijians for example, a year 13 Certificate English score of 50% or up is recognized as proof of proficiency.

3. Can you study medicine in New Zealand as an international student?

Yes. The Universities of Auckland and Otago accept foreign students for their MB ChB programs.

4. What are the components of the medical curriculum in New Zealand?

The Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) degree in New Zealand is available is open for undergraduate and graduate entry.

Those who opt for the former will need to complete a one-year program in order to study medicine in New Zealand. At the University of Auckland, this track consists of subjects in Chemistry, Biology for Biomedical Science, Population Health, Health Systems, Health & Society, to name a few.

For the second and third year of medical school, the University of Otago students undertake the Early Learning in Medicine track. This includes clinical skill tutorials, early professional experience, medical science learning, and integrated case tutorials.

This is followed by Advanced Learning, which is the clinical component of years 4 to 6.

At the University of Auckland, the second and third years feature core courses on basic medical and health science. A course in medical humanities is included as well.

Year 4 is the start of hospital and community learning, while Year 5 requires a rural immersion program in Whangarei and Northland. A 5-week elective should be accomplished by this year as well.

The last year requires an 8-week elective, which the university recommends be done overseas. This is also the time to complete an 11-week research project.

5. How many medical schools are in New Zealand?

There are 4 schools of medicine in New Zealand, though they are operated by 2 universities with medical faculties. One is the University of Auckland in Auckland and Waikato. 3 schools are overseen by the University of Otago. These are the Dunedin School of Medicine, the University of Wellington, and the University of Otago in Otago and Christchurch.

6. How difficult is it to study medicine in New Zealand?

Like other countries, the difficulty of studying medicine in New Zealand starts with applying to a New Zealand medical school. In fact, the University of Otago recommends that only students with good marks enroll in HSFY given the competitive nature of medical school admission. That’s because there are only 20 slots allotted for foreigners who wish to pursue an MB ChB degree.

As the strict admissions process is designed to pluck out the ‘best of the best’, New Zealand medical students have a relatively low attrition rate. This is only 7.3%, which is far lower than the global average of 11%.

7. What do you need to become a doctor after you study medicine in New Zealand?

After obtaining an MB ChB degree, the student needs to undergo pre-vocational training in an approved New Zealand hospital. Such slots are limited, more so for foreigners. However, international students have the option to complete this training in their home countries.

After finishing this program, the doctor may apply for registration at the Medical Council of New Zealand.


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