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Masters degrees in Australia & New Zealand

Masters in Australia and New Zealand

by Study Options

Why study for a Masters degree in Australia and 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.

Masters degrees at universities in Australia and New Zealand

The types of Masters programmes available at Australian and New Zealand universities are much the same as those offered by UK institutions. Broadly speaking, they can be divided into Professional Development Masters, Professional Masters and Traditional Academic Masters. Click 'read more' for a brief description of each of these. For more information on study methods and course structure on Masters programmes in Australia and New Zealand, see below.

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.

Professional Masters

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.

Traditional Masters

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.

Structure and content of Masters degrees in Australia and New Zealand

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.

Applying for a Masters in Australia and New Zealand

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.

Application process

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 for Masters students in Australia and New Zealand

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 and 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.

Fees and funding for Masters degrees in Australia and New Zealand

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 ($15,000) per year; Masters courses in New Zealand around NZ$20,000 ($15,750). 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. provides a comprehensive database of small grants and bursaries available to support postgraduate study around the world, including travel bursaries, living cost support, fee waivers and exchange programmes. Click here to start searching for funding to study a Masters in Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere.

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Masters in Australia

With an enviable climate, stunning landscapes, unique wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle, it's no wonder that Australia is one of the world's most popular destinations for international travel. As a Masters student in Australia you'll be able to experience all 'the lucky country' has to offer, whilst studying at its world-renowned universities. You won't be alone either ' Australian universities currently welcome nearly 250,000 international students, many of them postgraduates.

Masters degrees in Australia follow a similar format to programmes in Europe and America and are available at all of the country's top universities. Most of these are situated in cities on or near the coast, with strong travel links to international destinations. Further in-land lie beautiful expanses of unspoilt wilderness, home to many of the country's unique species. You'll have the opportunity to explore some of these regions whilst completing an Australian Masters degree, whether as a break from your studies or perhaps even as part of them.

A Masters in Australia usually takes between one and two years to complete (in some rarer cases this may extend to two and a half years). The academic year in Australia usually begins in February or March and runs for twelve months, including holiday periods. International students will need to apply for a visa to study a Masters in Australia and will usually be required to demonstrate that they are studying full time in order for this to be granted.

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Masters in New Zealand

Like its near neighbour, Australia, New Zealand is famous for its excellent climate, relaxed culture and incredible landscapes – the latter of which have become immortalised in the stunning locations for the acclaimed Lord of the Rings film franchise. New Zealand is also a very popular study abroad destination: despite the country’s relatively small size, its universities host over 40,000 international students.

As a Masters student in New Zealand you’ll have the opportunity to explore the beautiful landscapes and encounter the rare species that have made the country famous, whilst living and studying in cities that are themselves bustling cultural and economic hubs. You’ll also have access to a full range of modern Masters programmes, delivered in a familiar and internationally recognised format. Whatever you study, you’ll be able to take advantage of the unique opportunities New Zealand has to offer: from studying film in a country famous for its modern blockbuster successes to investigating the vibrant biodiversity of the Oceanic region.

A Masters in New Zealand usually takes two years to complete and the New Zealand academic year typically runs for 12 months from February or March (admission dates at individual universities may vary slightly). International students will require a visa to study a Masters in New Zealand and will usually need to be enrolled on a full-time programme in order to be eligible.

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