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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 fluent in English. Find out about what the standards are, and where you can find teacher training providers:

Academic entry requirements

If you’re under 20 years of age and looking to do a diploma or degree programme you will need University Entrance (UE) or equivalent. International candidates must have UE equivalent as approved by the Education Council.

If you are over 20 years of age, each ITE provider sets literacy and numeracy requirements, comparable with those entering with UE.

For those seeking to enrol in a graduate diploma programme, see the Education Council policy on entry to graduate diplomas

English language competency

You must have your literacy assessed by your ITE provider before entry if you are a candidate for an early childhood education, primary and secondary ITE programme.  If you don’t meet the literacy requirements you must do so before graduating from your programme.

Requirements for English as an Additional Language (EAL) candidates

If you are an EAL candidate you must have your English language competency tested before you enter an ITE programme. The IELTS assessment tool is used to determine English language competency. You must achieve a 7 or higher for each component. Talk to your ITE provider about exemptions and other details.

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

Our Graduating Teacher Standards are about ensuring all new teacher graduates in New Zealand are of a consistently high quality. Read the Graduating Teacher 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 Education 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.