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Studying to be a teacher

To study teaching in New Zealand you must meet certain academic entry requirements and be fluent in English

There is a lot of flexibility in the study pathways you can take to become a teacher. Depending on the sector you choose and how you prefer to learn, you can study online or on campus, full-time or part-time. Whatever path you take, you will need to complete an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme.

Choosing your sector

Deciding which sector is right for you will help to determine your choice of ITE programme. Some ITE programmes are specifically for early childhood education (0-5 years), Māori immersion, primary (school years 0-8) or secondary (school years 7-13 or 9-13), while other programmes let you choose as you progress in your study.

Intermediate schools cover school years 7–8 and are included in primary and secondary ITE programmes.

One of the best ways to get a sense of what age group you would like to teach is to spend time at a school or early childhood education centre. Call a local school, kura or centre and ask if you can sit in for a day – they are used to these requests and will welcome you.

Choosing a programme

ITE programmes of study will lead you towards a teaching qualification at level 7 on the NZQA Register of Quality Assured Qualifications. With it you can teach in New Zealand early childhood education centres, schools (primary, intermediate and secondary) or kura (Māori medium or immersion).

Your ITE programme will fully prepare you for your teaching career with a mix of curriculum, learning and pedagogical theory, professional studies, practicum experiences and cultural studies.

You can choose from a range of ITE approved programmes:

  • Undergraduate degrees of three or four years
  • Undergraduate diplomas of three years (in early childhood education)
  • One-year graduate diplomas if you already have a relevant qualification at level 7 or above.

Entry requirements

To be able to study to become a teacher in New Zealand you need to meet certain academic entry requirements and be competent in one of the languages of the national curriculum - English or Māori. Find out about what the standards are, and where you can find teacher education providers:

Academic entry requirements

If you’re under 20 years of age and looking to do a degree programme you will need University Entrance (UE) or equivalent unless a programme has been specifically approved by the Teaching Council as one that can accept candidates without UE.  

If you are 20 years of age or over, you can be accepted into a programme if you are able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the provider that you have the ability to study at a tertiary level.

If you are seeking to enrol in a Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma or Master’s programme, you must hold a Bachelor’s degree at Level 7 on the NZQF, or a recognised equivalent unless that programme has been approved by the Teaching Council as one that can accept candidates without a level 7 degree.

In addition to the above qualification requirements, if you are seeking to enrol in a secondary ITE programme, the provider must be satisfied that you have a body of knowledge from NZQF Levels 5 to 7 or higher in your entry qualification, that is relevant for teaching in a particular secondary school subject.

Language competency

You must have your literacy assessed by your ITE provider. All students must also provide evidence of their competency in either English or te reo Māori (requirements and policy).

Additional assessments

You must also be assessed by your provider on your literacy and numeracy competency, and your disposition to teach prior to entry.

Te reo Māori competency

While not an entry requirement, you will have your te reo Māori competency assessed by your provider near the start of the programme.  This will give you a starting point for your journey to develop this competency through the programme and into your teaching career.

Choosing a provider

Find out what the various ITE programmes will prepare you for – the different types of lessons you will be able to deliver and the age of the children you can teach.

To help you narrow your search for an ITE provider that will suit your learning style and circumstances, ask potential providers these questions

Search programme database

The TeachNZ website has a tool to help you find a study programme that will suit you.

Standards you need to meet to graduate

All ITE graduates must meet the Standards for the Teaching Profession (the Standards) (in a supported environment). This ensures that all beginning teachers are of a consistently high quality. The Standards replace the Graduating Teacher Standards. Find out more about the Standards.

Understanding the Code of Professional Responsibility

Our Code is about ensuring teachers certificated to practise in New Zealand are committed to attaining the highest standards of professional service in promoting learning by those they teach, mindful of the learners' ability, cultural background, gender, age or stage of development.  Find out more about the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Next steps

When you complete your ITE qualification you can apply to the Teaching Council for registration and practising certification as a teacher. When this process is completed you are not restricted to a specific education sector. See the Getting Certificated as a Teacher section.