Admission and
University Entrance

Before you can start your qualification at UC you must first meet university entrance requirements.

Students Matariki

Admission with New Zealand qualifications

If you have completed your secondary education in New Zealand, you will need to meet one of the following criteria.

If you are transferring to the University of Canterbury from another New Zealand university or tertiary institution please see transfer credit for more information.

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the main secondary school qualification for New Zealand Students.

How to gain NCEA

NCEA credits can be accumulated over several years. Assessment usually takes place in New Zealand high schools from Year 11 to Year 13. 

NCEA is administered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). NZQA applies the standards and awards for University Entrance to New Zealand universities.

Minimum NCEA requirements for University Entrance

If you have obtained, or expect to obtain, University Entrance through NCEA, your admission will be processed automatically and can apply to enrol before the application deadlines.

To qualify you will need to have at least the following:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3, made up of:
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading
    • 5 credits in writing
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • achievement standards – specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or
    • unit standards - package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required).

Once you have met the requirements for University Entrance it will appear on your Record of Achievement.

Full details of the NCEA University Entrance requirements see the NZQA website.

If you are a Year 12 student with an exceptional academic record and are applying to come to UC before completing Year 13 (must have school's approval) OR are a NZ Secondary School Exchange student please refer to the Discretionary Entrance section of this page for information regarding your admission pathway.

Falling short of University Entrance

If you haven’t achieved University Entrance through NCEA, you may be able to qualify for admission to UC by completing the Certificate in University Preparation.

If you are only a few credits short of NCEA University Entrance then your own secondary school, Hagley College or Te Kura Correspondence School might be able to help you catch up after the official NCEA release date.

If you are enrolled in Hagley's Intensive Catch Up Programme and are on track to achieve NCEA University Entrance by 13 February 2019, then you will be able to start at UC in Semester 1. For further information see the 2019 Hagley Catch up PDF 2 MB) or visit the Catch Up College web page on Hagley College's website.

 For further information on Te Kura’s Summer School options visit the Summer School web page on Te Kura Correspondence School’s website.

Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) qualifications are offered internationally and some New Zealand schools offer it as an alternative to NCEA. 

Minimum CIE scores for University Entrance

CIE qualifications are primarily managed by Cambridge International Examinations and are part of the University of Cambridge. 

You can gain admission to UC if you meet the minimum requirements -

  • A or AS level entrance requirement: at least 120 points on the NZ Tariff and a minimum grade of D in each of at least three subjects equivalent to those on the approved list. (Similar to NCEA approved subjects)
  • Literacy requirement: a pass in any of AS English Language, Language and Literature in English or Literature in English.
  • Numeracy requirement: either (i) a D grade or better in IGCSE or GCSE mathematics or (ii) any mathematics pass at AS level.

Note: International applicants applying with CIE study outside of New Zealand may also meet the standard literacy requirement through an alternative approved English test-Admissions will contact you if we require more information regarding your English.

If you completed CIE with other New Zealand study

If you have taken CIE in combination with NCEA or other UC accepted pre-university qualification please email [email protected].

If you completed A (A2) levels outside of New Zealand

You can gain admission to UC if you meet the following minimum requirements:

  • at least three A (A2) levels with at least one A (A2) level at grade C or above. A result in General Studies cannot be included. If English is not your first language you must meet additional UC English requirements.  

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is a programme of study and assessment that is offered internationally and in some New Zealand schools as an alternative to NCEA.

IB qualifications are managed by the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

Minimum IB scores for University Entrance studied in New Zealand

You can gain admission to UC if you have been awarded the IB Diploma.

The literacy requirement for admission to university will be met if the IB diploma has been completed with English as the language in any of:

  • Language A: literature (SL or HL)
  • Language A: language and literature (SL or HL), or
  • Language B: (HL)

If you have a minimum of 24 points towards the IB, but have NOT been awarded the diploma, domestic fee paying students can apply for Discretionary Entrance (see further down the page for details).

If you completed the IB with other study

If you have taken IB in combination with NCEA or other UC accepted pre-university qualification contact the UC Admissions Team to discuss your admission options.

If you are over the age of 20 and do not have University Entrance through NCEA or its equivalent, you may be eligible to apply for 20+ entry to UC.

Skills you need for study at university

Starting university can be both challenging and exciting. Formal study at tertiary level requires you to develop research and study skills.

You must be able to read complicated academic texts, and locate useful information in them quickly and accurately. You’ll need to evaluate the quality of information that you find and record it in a suitable way. You must also be able to manage your time effectively to get the most out of your study.

Minimum requirements

  • You must be a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand or Australia, or a citizen of the Cook Islands, Tokelau, or Niue.
  • You must also be 20 years of age or older by the official course start date.

How to apply for 20+

To apply for 20+, submit your application to enrol through Login to myUC. To enable a quicker assessment please attach any academic documents you may have achieved to date.

Assessment and notification of application outcomes

  • You will be notified of the outcome of your application by email.
  • 20+ Entry provides you admission to UC however acceptance into specific qualifications and/or courses may require approval from the relevant academic department.
  • You are strongly encouraged to contact the Liaison Office before applying for 20+ to make sure it is the right choice for you.

Other pathways to UC admission

  • If you don’t quite feel ready to tackle degree level study, there are a variety of study options available to prepare you for successful university study.
  • If you’re a New Zealand student and do not yet meet the requirements for UC admission, you may still be eligible to gain admission through the Certificate in University Preparation.
  • If you’re from outside New Zealand and want to study at UC but don’t yet meet the UC entry requirements, you may be eligible for another transition programme.

Transition programmes are offered at most New Zealand universities if you have fallen short of the requirements for university admission.

University Entrance with a UC Transition Qualification

UC has three transitionary qualifications that you can study towards to gain University Entrance to undergraduate qualifications:

  • Certificate in University Preparation
    If you are a New Zealand student, University preparation programmes are for you. They focus on analytical skills and communication required to succeed at university.
  • Foundation Studies Certificate
    If you are an International Student whose first language is not English, foundation studies will be a better fit. Foundation studies have a dual emphasis on university study skills and academic English.
  • University Transfer Programme
    If you are an International Student whose first language is not English, and you want to go on to study towards a commerce, engineering or science degree, a UCIC University Transfer Programme may be for you.

University Entrance with  other NZ university recognised transition qualifications

UC accepts some foundation and university transfer certificates awarded by other New Zealand universities for admission into UC undergraduate programmes:


Approved Qualifications

University of Auckland

  • Foundation Studies Certificate and IELTS Academic of 6.0 with a minimum score of 6.0 in every section
  • Certificate in Health Science
  • Tertiary Foundation Certificate

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

  • International Foundation Certificate with a minimum score of 65 percent in English 2

Lincoln University

  • Certificate in Foundation Studies with at least a C grade in English Language and Communication, Learning and Study Issues and Integrative Study Skills
  • Certificate in University Preparation

Massey University

  • Certificate in Foundation Studies
  • Certificate of University Preparation

University of Otago

  • Foundation Studies Certificate with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 6.5 for admission and a minimum C grade (GPA 6.5) in Foundation Year English
  • Certificate in University Preparation

Victoria University of Wellington

  • Certificate of Foundation Studies
  • Certificate of University Preparation

University of Waikato

  • Certificate of Attainment in Foundation Studies
  • Certificate of University Preparation

Transitionary qualifications earned at universities in Australia, Fiji and Samoa may be considered for UC admission. Contact the Admissions Team to confirm your eligibility through a certification not specified below.

Minimum scores for University Entrance

In most cases, successfully completing a preparatory qualification is considered to be equivalent to gaining University Entrance. Once you have successfully completed one of these you can apply for undergraduate qualifications.

Some alternative pathways are recognised by UC for gaining equivalent status to University Entrance.

You may have studied towards a qualification other than NCEA, CIE and IB or you may have studied outside of the schooling system.

If your school study has followed a study path NOT listed below, contact the Admissions Team to discuss your options.

Home schooling

If you’ve been home schooled and have not achieved a complete high school qualification such as NCEA, UE/IB Diploma/CIE then please contact Franka Menzies to discuss your options.

University Entrance via Steiner School Certificate

You can gain University Entrance by completing the Steiner School Certificate Level 3 endorsed with University Entrance.

  • When you apply to enrol through MyUC please select AES (ad eundum statum) as your admission reason.

Christian Education New Zealand (CENZ) Level 3 Certificate

A completed CENZ Level 3 Certificate, which includes at least four subjects designated Level 3 and passes in Algebra 1 (1097-1108) and English 1 (1097-1108).

University Entrance via Accelerated Christian Education

You can gain University Entrance through a Year 13 Academic Certificate.

  • When you apply to enrol through MyUC please select AES (ad eundum statum) as your admission reason.

University Entrance via pre-2004 New Zealand high school qualifications

If you studied at a New Zealand secondary school before 2004, you may qualify for admission to UC with an older qualification such as:

  • University Entrance (pre-1986)
  • University Bursary
  • University Scholarship
  • Sixth Form Certificate

When you apply to enrol through MyUC please attached your qualification.


If you studied at a New Zealand secondary school in 2003 or earlier and completed a Bursary qualification, you may qualify for admission with Bursary with one of the following:

  • An A or B Bursary
  • At least 3 'C' passes in New Zealand Bursaries and Higher school certificate

You must also provide evidence of English language proficiency. You may do this in one of the following ways:

  • Be aged 20 years or over and a New Zealand citizen or residence class visa, or Australian citizen or PR
  • Be a native English speaker
  • Have achieved a 'C' pass or higher in one of the following Bursary subjects: Accountancy, Agriculture, Biology, Classical studies, Drama, Economics, English, Geography, History, History of Art or Media studies
  • Provide a satisfactory score in an English language test.

If you’re a Year 12 student with an exceptional academic record or are using one of the pathways below you may want to apply for university prior to gaining University Entrance through Discretionary Entrance.

Minimum requirements for Discretionary Entrance

Discretionary Entrance is only available to citizens, holders of a Residence Class Visa or Permanent Residents of New Zealand (including the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue) or Australia.

You must be 16 years of age or older by 31 December in the year of application and under 20 years of age on the official start date of your course.

To be considered for Discretionary Entrance you must have achieved the criteria below:



NCEA Year 12

You must NOT have undertaken NCEA Year 13 study beyond 1 June if intending to enrol in February the following year.

International Baccalaureate

Minimum International Baccalaureate score of 24 points but you must not have been awarded the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

NZ Secondary School Exchange

  • NCEA Level 2, including a minimum of 14 credits in three approved subjects.
  • Achieved the literacy and numeracy standards for University Entrance.
  • Evidence of having studied overseas for a minimum of 20 weeks on an official exchange programme such as AFS or Rotary.
  • A supporting letter from the principal of the school you attended overseas is required. If this is not in English an official translation is required. This supporting letter must be on school letterhead, state duration of study, and a comment of your overall standard of academic conduct and participation.
  • Transcript of your studies completed on exchange if possible.

How to apply for Discretionary Entrance

1. Apply to Enrol at UC
2. Read and follow the process outlined in the Discretionary Entrance form below:

3. Submit all required documents as outlined in the form above to [email protected]

You will be notified of the outcome of your application via email. If you are unsuccessful and declined admission, or if additional supporting evidence becomes available, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed.

Please note: Discretionary entrance, 20+ and Certificate in University Preparation (CUP) are only available to New Zealand Citizens or holders of a Residence Class Visa and Australian Citizens, or Permanent Residents of Australia, Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue.

For further information on domestic admission

Please note, this information is presented as a guide and does not guarantee that admission will be granted if met.

Admission with international qualifications

If you gained your qualifications outside of New Zealand you need to check the minimum requirements relevant to the country you studied in.

If you are an international student who has studied in New Zealand please go to domestic admission above.

When to apply

If you have Admission to the University of Canterbury you can simply apply to enrol - applications open on 3 October.  If you need to apply for Admission, please submit your complete application for Admission by:

Undergraduate applications
Semester 1 (February start) by 31 October
Semester 2 (July start) by 30 April

If you are an international student living outside of New Zealand you might want to get some assistance with your application from an overseas representative in your country. 

For more information about international admission

Postgraduate Admission

Find out more if you are interested studying graduate or postgraduate qualifications or PhD and Doctoral qualifications.

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