New Zealand Qualification Framework

Under the New Zealand Qualification Framework, there are 10 NZ qualification levels that exist. These are from Level 1 certificates to Level 10 Doctorates, as below:

  • Level 5 Diplomas
  • Level 6 Advanced diplomas
  • Level 7 graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and Bachelor’s degrees
  • Level 8 postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas and Bachelor’s Honors degrees
  • Level 9 Master’s degrees
  • Level 10 Doctoral degrees (PHD)

Diploma level 5

A diploma at level 5 qualifies students with theoretical and/or technical knowledge and skills within a specific selected field of work or study. This diploma is listed at level 5. It must contain a minimum of 120 credits from level 4 or above including at minimum of 72 credits at level 5 or above.

Advance Diploma level 6

A diploma at level 6 qualifies students with theoretical and/or technical knowledge and skills in specialized/strategic contexts. This diploma is listed at level 6. It must contain a minimum of 120 credits from level 5 or above including a minimum of least 72 credits at level 6 or above.

Bachelor’s / Honors Degree

A Bachelor’s Degree provides students with a methodical organised and rational logical introduction to a body of knowledge of a recognised major subject (or subjects, in the case of a double degree or a double major) as well as to problem-solving and related basic techniques of self-directed work and learning.

A Bachelor’s Degree involves a minimum of one sequential study programme in which content is progressively developed such that it might form a basis for postgraduate study and/or professional practice.

A Bachelor’s Degree requires a minimum of 360 credits from levels 5 to 7. Some Bachelor’s Degrees, notably in professional fields like engineering, the health sciences and law, encompass additional credits and will require an extended period of study. For example, an eight-semester (four-year) degree would normally be equivalent to 480 credits.

Of the credits required for a Bachelor Degree, a minimum of 72 credits must be at level 7 or higher. The degree should specify a spread of credit across levels, so that the qualification demonstrates progression, reflects the requirements of the degree definition and achieves the associated learning outcomes in a way that is appropriate to the subject area.

Graduate Diploma

A Graduate Diploma allows degree graduates to pursue a major body of study at an advanced undergraduate level. The Diploma is often designed as a bridging qualification to postgraduate study as well as broadening knowledge and skills in a familiar subject or discipline, or developing knowledge in a new area.

A Graduate Diploma requires a minimum of 120 credits, of which 72 credits must be at level 7 or above. A Graduate Diploma may provide the basis for postgraduate study.

Postgraduate Diploma

A Postgraduate Diploma is meant to increase and deepen an individual’s knowledge and skills by building on attainment within the principal subject(s) of the qualifying degree, graduate diploma or graduate certificate. A Postgraduate Diploma prepares a student for independent research and scholarship in the principal subject of the diploma. A Postgraduate Diploma can also be awarded with distinction.

The Postgraduate Diploma requires a minimum of 120 credits from levels 7 and above, with a minimum of 72 credits from level 8.

A person who holds a Postgraduate Diploma should be eligible to enroll in a Master’s Degree.

Master’s Degree

A Master’s Degree qualifies individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts for research, a pathway for further learning, professional practice and/or scholarship. They may also build on extensive professional experience of an appropriate kind. Their outcomes are demonstrably in advance of undergraduate study, and require individuals to engage in research and/or advanced scholarship.

Master’s Degrees are constituted in one discipline or coherent programme of study. They may be undertaken by taught courses or research, or by a combination of both. The Master’s Degree is at least 240 credits except where:

  • It builds on a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors or an equivalent qualification, or significant relevant professional experience, in which cases it can be fewer than 240 but no fewer than 120 credits
  • It builds on a three-year Bachelor’s Degree or an equivalent qualification, in which cases it can be fewer than 240 but no fewer than 180 credits.

The Master’s Degree must comprise a minimum of 40 credits at level 9 with the remainder at level 8.

Doctoral Degree
A Doctoral Degree is a research degree whereby the students becomes an increasingly independent scholar who makes a considerable and original contribution to knowledge. It is normally the peak of study which begins at the bachelor level and reaches a stage beyond the masters. For the PhD/DPhil and therefore the named doctorate (e.g. DMus), the growth takes place under the guidance of recognized experts in the field of study and under circumstances that allow the individual access to appropriate research resources.

The contribution to knowledge is judged by independent experts applying to the modern international standards of the discipline. The trademark will be the individual’s capacity for substantial independent research or scholarly creative activity as attested by his/her educational institution and/or as demonstrated by submitted work. The major component of all doctorates is original research. The body of work that leads to the award of a doctorate are going to be one or more of the following:

  • A thesis (the PhD/DPhil)
  • Creative work in the visual or performing arts (the PhD/DPhil)
  • A thesis or equivalent creative work in combination with coursework (the named Doctorate)
  • A creative work in the visual or performing arts (the named doctorate) with a thesis (The named doctorate)
  • Published work.

A Doctoral Degree requires a minimum of 360 credits and is listed at level 10.