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NCEA credits needed for tertiary study

Find out what NCEA credits you need to get into tertiary study at a university, polytechnic or wānanga.

A university student studies at her laptop in a library

If you're under 20 years old you'll usually need university entrance to get into a tertiary course

What NCEA credits do you need for a tertiary course?

Entry requirements for courses at wānanga, private training establishments, polytechnics and institutes of technology differ depending on the type and level of study you’re doing – for example, whether it is at certificate, diploma or degree level.

Some competitive diplomas or degrees have higher NCEA or industry-specific entry requirements, or require University Entrance.

Many certificates and diplomas at Level 5 and 6 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) require at least NCEA Level 2. They may also require specific subject credits, depending on the course.

What NCEA credits do you need for a university course?

The minimum requirement to enter a New Zealand university is University Entrance (UE). To get UE you need:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • 14 credits in each of three NZQA-approved subjects at Level 3
  • Literacy – 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of 5 credits in reading and 5 credits in writing
  • Numeracy – 10 credits at Level 1 or above that meet NZQA requirements.

If you qualify for University Entrance, it will show on your Record of Achievement.

Additional university entry requirements and guaranteed entry scores

Some university programmes have additional entry requirements, particularly for courses where entry is competitive or restricted such as engineering, law or medicine.

Applicants may be ranked by their best NCEA credits, shortlisted and asked to attend an interview.

Some universities also have a guaranteed entry score. If you meet a university's score, you are guaranteed admission into their degree programme. If you don't meet this score, you may be able to go on a waiting list for a programme and could be offered a place, depending on demand.

What are guaranteed entry scores based on?

Criteria for the guaranteed entry score vary by university, but are usually based on your best 80 credits in approved subjects at Level 3 (or higher). Points are awarded based on your level of achievement – you will earn more points for credits gained with excellence than for achieved credits.

You'll need to check with each university to find out about their particular entry requirements.

Updated 18 Dec 2018