Want to study in New Zealand? Here’s how you can apply

New Zealand university
Now that borders are reopening to students, here's how you can apply to a New Zealand university. Source: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP

New Zealand announced that 5,000 international students would return from mid-2022 under a border exception, while regular visa processing would resume in October. While this is exciting news for international students, there are multiple steps that you would need to consider when preparing for your journey to a New Zealand university.

From getting your required documents to waiting for your offer letter, arm yourself with what you need to know about the New Zealand university admission process so that the next step of your education journey is a smooth one:

Despite only having eight New Zealand universities, all of them are no slouches. Source: Dean Treml / AFP

Step 1 – Finding the perfect New Zealand university

Did you know that all eight New Zealand universities are in the top 3% of the QS World University Rankings?

  • Auckland University of Technology

  • Lincoln University

  • Massey University

  • University of Auckland

  • University of Canterbury

  • University of Otago

  • University of Waikato

  • Victoria University of Wellington

Do the necessary research to find the best New Zealand university that suits your needs and interests. This includes their course offerings, cost, and location. 

Consider applying to multiple universities to widen your chances of enrolment, and check about application deadlines. If you aren’t sure which university would be the right one for you, consider speaking to a university counsellor or student ambassadors for more information.

Before you start your application at a New Zealand university, you often need to have a certificate to prove your proficiency in English. Source: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Step 2 – Meeting the English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will likely need to demonstrate that you meet the minimum English language requirements. There are several tests to choose from, so it’s best to check with universities which tests they accept.

As an example, here is the list of approved certifications for the University of Auckland:

  • IELTS Academic


  • C1 Advanced (previously – Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE))

  • C2 Proficiency (previously – Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE))

  • University of Auckland Foundation Certificate in English for Academic Purposes (FCertEAP)

  • University of Auckland English Pathway for Undergraduate Studies (EPUS)

  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic

  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)

  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE)

  • LanguageCert – International ESOL

  • AEMG English for Academic Purposes Direct Entry Program (AEAP DEP) Final Exam

Now that you have found the New Zealand university of your choice, this will be time to prepare your required documents and start your application. Source: Frederic J. Brown/AFP

Step 3 – Starting your application

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll need to think about the application process and identify what documents you will need. This could include:

  • Letter of motive for study
  • Certified copy of either your high school diploma or that of a previously completed degree
  • Translation of the course modules and grades (if not in English)
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • Copy of your passport
  • Passport photo
  • Proof of payment of the application fee
  • Resume (if required)
  • Sample of previous academic work

To submit your application, you can expect to pay a non-refundable application processing fee that could range from NZ$25 to NZ$50. Some institutions may waive this fee if you meet their exemption criteria. 

After sending in your application, the proper channels will review it accordingly, and you will be notified once completed. Source: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Step 4 – Wait

After sending in your application, the proper channels will review it accordingly, and you will be notified once it is completed. It may take a few weeks or longer. Be sure to know how the university will contact you regarding your application.

Step 5 – Accepting the offer

It could go either two ways here: you will either be accepted or rejected. If you have been accepted, congratulations! Now’s the time for you to accept the offer! You may have additional requirements sent by the university, so read carefully and meet those conditions.

If you have been rejected, fingers crossed that you’ll get an acceptance letter or email from your backup choices. You might also want to consider going over your previous applications to check if you have made any errors, such as submitting the wrong documents to not meeting the deadline.

Step 6 – Book your flight tickets

Now that a New Zealand university has accepted you, all that’s left is to prepare for your departure.