Why do a Masters in Australia or New Zealand?
Doing a postgraduate qualification in a new country gives you the chance to have a very different university experience to the one that you had as an undergraduate. It's an opportunity to widen your horizons and gain a new perspective, as well as giving you a point of difference that will help make your CV stand out to employers.
Australian and New Zealand university qualifications are internationally recognised and valued by employers and academics worldwide. The education systems in both countries are based on the UK model, and the qualifications their universities award are internationally recognised as the equivalent of UK qualifications.
Australian and New Zealand universities are research-led, and undertake pioneering work in many fields. They are regarded as the world-leaders in many subject areas.
What can I study?
The types of Masters programmes available at Australian and New Zealand universities are much the same as those offered by UK institutions.
Professional Development Masters
These offer students who have already qualified in a professional field the opportunity to specialise in a particular area, and would include, for example, a Master of Engineering, or a Master of Education. The latter would offer a qualified teacher the chance to undertake further study in an area such as education for gifted children, school management or special needs teaching.
These are graduate entry professional qualifications that enable students who have a general or non-professional undergraduate background to train and qualify to practice in a particular field. These Masters would include courses such as the Master of Physiotherapy Practice, which allows graduates of related disciplines such as sports science to train and qualify as physiotherapists - or the Graduate Diploma of Education or Master of Teaching, both of which enable graduates to train and qualify as teachers.
These enable students to strengthen and develop their knowledge in an academic subject. These would include courses such as the Master of Arts or Master of Science.
Are Masters courses the only postgraduate option available?
No, Australian universities also offer Graduate Diplomas, Postgraduate Diplomas and PhD programmes.
Australian and New Zealand universities offer hundreds of different Masters courses in a huge variety of subjects. So, first things first - how do you go about choosing the perfect course for you? Here are a few things you might want to take into consideration.
Coursework vs Research Masters
In Australia, students can apply for Masters by coursework or Masters by research. The former are 'taught' courses, much like undergraduate degrees in their structure of lectures, seminars and tutorials, with lab or field work where required. Masters by research are usually independent research projects, some of which can be upgraded to a PhD where appropriate. There are also Masters courses available that offer a combination of the two (these are typically two-thirds coursework to one-third research, with the research usually undertaken as a final project).
In New Zealand, however, almost all Masters programmes are a combination of coursework and research. With the exception of some professional or specialist courses, New Zealand Masters are made up of one year of study by coursework, followed by a year of independent research. It is possible to exit after just the first year with a Postgraduate Diploma, if you decide after the first year that the research part is not for you.
How long do courses take?
In Australia, Masters courses can be one, one and a half, two or sometimes (albeit rarely) two and a half years long. The length of the course depends on the subject being studied, but in many cases also by the applicant's academic background.
In New Zealand, Masters courses are almost always two years long, as described above.
What are the entry requirements?
Each university in Australia and New Zealand sets its own entry requirements so these will vary considerably depending on what course you want to do and which university you want to do it at.
The basic entry requirement for admission to postgraduate study in both countries is for you to have successfully completed the equivalent of an Australian or New Zealand Bachelors degree (successful completion of a Bachelors degree from a UK or Irish university will satisfy this). Each university has its own definition of what 'successfully completed' means in terms of GPA, however, though most are looking for students to hold the equivalent of 2:1 or solid 2:2 from a UK university.
Individual courses may then have their own additional requirements - for example professional or research experience, particular subject pre-requisites, portfolios of work or additional tests such as the GRE or GMAT.
Costs and funding
Unless you have permanent residency or citizenship of Australia or New Zealand you will be classed as an international student there, and liable to pay international tuition fees for your study. Each university sets its own tuition fees, so you will see different fees quoted depending on what subject you want to study and where you want to study it. Masters courses in Australia would generally start at around AU$17,000 per year; Masters courses in New Zealand around NZ$20,000. These figures are approximate, per year and cover tuition fees only.
International scholarships at Australian and New Zealand universities are usually offered for postgraduate (rather than undergraduate) study and most are awarded solely on academic merit. The majority of scholarships are offered directly by the universities themselves, so please visit the scholarship pages of their websites to check whether there are any you're able to apply for.
The Australian government also runs the Endeavour Awards, an annual scholarship scheme open to prospective Masters students intending to study by coursework or by research.
If your studies are dependant on your successfully gaining a scholarship please start researching options as early as possible. Scholarship application deadlines are often early and many schemes require students to hold an offer of place from their chosen Australian or New Zealand university before they can apply.
When do courses start?
The academic year in Australia and New Zealand begins in late February (semester 1). There is a second intake in semester 2, July, although not all Masters courses can be started in the second semester.
When should I apply?
For semester 1, application deadlines are generally October 31st the year before you want to start studying, although specialist courses including medicine, fine art, some commerce programmes may have earlier deadlines - please check this carefully during the course of your research. For semester 2, the application deadline is generally April 30th, though again the same caveat applies.
What documents will I need to provide with my application?
All universities will want you to include a completed application form (available from Study Options for students applying from the UK and Ireland) plus academic transcripts for your undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications (a transcript is an official list, issued by the university, of the subjects you've studied and the grades you've obtained) as well as your degree completion certificates. Academic references, a personal or covering statement and a CV may also be required.
Will I have to do an interview?
That depends on the university and the course you're applying for, but if an interview is required you won't actually have to travel to Australia or New Zealand for it; instead it will be done over the phone or via Skype.
Visas and Immigration
All international students undertaking a Masters in Australia or New Zealand will need to have a student visa for the duration of their studies. More information about applying for a student visa is available from the Departments of Immigration - please see www.immi.gov.au and www.immigration.govt.nz. Please note that in order to fulfil the requirements of a student visa you must study full-time - as an international student, part-time Masters as an international student are not an option.
Where can I go for more help?
The official representative of Australian and New Zealand universities in the UK and Ireland is Study Options and students based in those countries should apply through them. Study Options is a free advice and guidance service for students looking to study in Australia and New Zealand and the official representative of the universities in the UK. We can provide information on what courses are available and the universities that offer them as well as practical help with completing and submitting your application and applying for a student visa. All of our staff have either studied or worked in an Australian or New Zealand university.