Qualifications and their levels

Explore the diagram below to see how you can gain each type of qualification. You can click on each qualification level to find out more. The numbers relate to NZQA's qualification levels.

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
Doctorates - Level 10

A Doctorate is also called a PhD, and is the highest university degree. It commonly involves extensive research resulting in a thesis. The person is awarded the title of Doctor.

Most PhDs require three years of full-time study by someone who already holds a Master's degree or, in some cases, has extensive experience in the relevant field.

Master's degrees - Level 9

A Master's degree is an advanced degree taken by someone who already holds a Bachelor's degree or, in some cases, has extensive experience in the relevant field. It usually involves writing a piece based on focused research, called a thesis.

Most Master's degrees take two years of full-time study to complete, or four years part time.

Postgraduate diplomas and certificates - Level 8

A postgraduate qualification is open to graduates (those who have a Bachelor's degree).

For example, a secondary school teacher may complete a Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching after completing a degree in their teaching subject.

Bachelor's degrees with Honours - Level 8

A Bachelor's degree with Honours requires either a one-year programme following a three-year Bachelor's degree, or a longer four-year Bachelor's with Honours degree, which requires a particular level of achievement.

Graduate diplomas and certificates - Level 7

A graduate diploma or certificate is open to graduates (those who have a Bachelor's degree) or, in some cases, those with experience in the field.

Graduate diplomas and certificates are taught at universities, colleges of education, polytechnics, wānanga and private training establishments.

Bachelor's degrees - Level 7

A Bachelor's degree is an undergraduate degree, which requires at least three years of full-time study.

You can often study part time over a number of years as well.

Certificates - Levels 1 to 6

A certificate requires at least one-third of a year of full-time study, but you can do this part time over a number of years.

All tertiary education organisations offer certificate-level courses. A certificate is a qualification listed between Levels 1 and 6 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

A certificate tells employers you have proven skills in a particular area of work. It is how an employer knows, for example, that a carpenter is a qualified carpenter, or a chef is a qualified chef.

You can train for a certificate while on the job through industry training or apprenticeships or while in the defence forces.

Polytechnics, private training establishments, Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) and wānanga offer courses towards certificates.

Diplomas - Levels 5 to 6

A diploma normally requires at least one year of full-time study, although it can sometimes be studied part time. Diplomas can follow on from a certificate, or be a stand-alone qualification.

A diploma is a qualification listed at Levels 5 and 6 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). A graduate of a diploma will have achieved the same learning outcomes, no matter where in New Zealand they have studied.

A diploma tells employers you have proven skills in a particular area of work. It is how an employer knows, for example, that a carpenter is a qualified carpenter, or a chef is a qualified chef.

You can train for a diploma while on the job through industry training or apprenticeships or while in the defence forces.

Polytechnics, private training establishments, Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) and wānanga offer courses towards diplomas.

NCEA Level 3

To earn NCEA Level 3 you must achieve:

  • 60 credits at Level 3 or above; plus
  • 20 credits at Level 2 or above, even if gained for another national qualification.

The Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements must be met to achieve Levels 2 and 3.

NCEA Level 3 is usually studied in the final year of secondary school.

You can also study Level 3 certificates.

NCEA Level 2

To earn NCEA Level 2 you must achieve:

  • 60 credits at Level 2 or above; plus
  • 20 credits at any level, even if gained for another national qualification.

The Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements must be met to achieve Levels 2 and 3.

NCEA Level 2 is usually studied in the fourth  year of secondary school.

You can also study Level 2 certificates.

NCEA Level 1

NCEA is New Zealand's main national qualification for secondary school students, and is on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). It is based on credits from all unit and achievement standards.

To earn NCEA Level 1 you must achieve:

  • 80 credits.
  • Of these, ten credits must be in literacy standards and ten credits in numeracy standards.

NCEA Level 1 is usually studied in the third year of secondary school.

Updated 1 Dec 2016