Understanding NZ Qualifications is important… and you might be wondering what the heck a bachelor’s degree is, what a master’s degree is, what undergraduate means, and what postgraduate means… We’re here to break down the meanings of each qualification and what their levels are in a New Zealand context, and what it means for you.

There are 10 tertiary nz qualification levels that exist on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), from Level 1 certificates to Level 10 Doctorates. They are:

  • Level 1 certificates
  • Level 2 certificates
  • Level 3 certificates
  • Level 4 certificates
  • Level 5 certificates and diplomas
  • Level 6 certificates and diplomas
  • Level 7 graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and Bachelor’s degrees
  • Level 8 postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas and Bachelor’s Honours degrees
  • Level 9 Master’s degrees
  • Level 10 doctoral degrees (PhDs)

(Check out NZQA’s official explanation of the qualifications framework here).

Information about New Zealand tertiary qualifications should always state their level, for example, “Certificate in Snowsport (Level 5)” and “Certificate in Snowsport (Level 6)” and will have very different expectations of workload, and have different requirements for learners.

Use our StudySpy Course Search to find courses and qualifications that suit your level of study:

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What is a Bachelor’s degree / qualification?

The meaning of a bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree (qualification) from universities, institutes of technology/polytechnics, and wānanga awarded on completion of a course of study lasting three to seven years (depending on the institution and academic discipline – usually it’s 3-4 years).

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What is a Master’s degree / qualification?

The meaning of a master’s degree is an academic, postgraduate degree (qualification) awarded by universities and wānanga on completion of a course of study, demonstrating mastery of a specific field of study, or area of professional practice. A master’s degree is usually studied after the completion of an undergraduate degree.

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What is a certificate and what are the different levels of certificate qualifications?

A certificate is an undergraduate qualification and comes in many different shapes and sizes. Certificates range from Level 1 on the Qualifications Framework to Level 6. There’s also a Graduate Certificate at Level 7 and at Postgraduate, Level 8, there is a Postgraduate Certificate. Certificates are typically shorter in duration and can usually be completed within one year of study.

NCEA, tertiary qualifications, and the qualifications framework

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is the authority that approves secondary and tertiary qualifications. NZQA is responsible for placing them at the appropriate level on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

The secondary school qualification “National Certificate of Educational Achievement” (NCEA) is on the NZQF. NCEA qualifications range from Level 1 to 3.

What are Micro-credentials? Are micro-credentials qualifications?

Micro-credentials are Government-recognised credentials, but they’re not a formal qualification. Micro-credentials are a new way of validating learning, and are also known as digital badges, nano-degrees or nano-credentials. These credentials have been created as a way to recognise skills and learning in a particular area that employers are searching for (typically for skills in high-demand and short-supply), such as repairing electric vehicle batteries.

Find micro-credentials here.