There are all sorts of options to consider when thinking about where to study. Places to study after completing secondary school are called Tertiary providers. There are many tertiary providers in New Zealand and it is important to choose one that best suits your needs. As well as thinking about what courses and qualifications they offer, you’ll need to consider things like location, accommodation, course costs, a job or jobs you may have, which provider has the best reputation for delivering the course you wish to take and your style of learning.

Your options for providers are

  • Colleges of Education
  • Polytechnics or Institutes of Technology
  • Private Training Establishments (PTEs)
  • Universities
  • Wānanga

Colleges of Education

Colleges and schools of education offer programmes in early childhood, primary, secondary, special teacher education or postgraduate training. When you take a course at a college of education you’ll find that teaching practice is a compulsory. This means as a trainee teacher you’ll spend a lot of time in schools putting theory into practice. Teaching diplomas and degrees typically take three or four years, or if you already have a degree you may be able to do a one-year graduate diploma.

Polytechnics or Institutes of Technology

Polytechnics or Institutes of Technology offer both academic and job-focused courses that range from pre-certificate training through to diploma and degree levels. Many polytechnic courses are job-specific and some workplaces require completion of a polytechnic course before you can advance in a job.

Private Training Establishments

Private Training Establishments offer courses ranging from pre-certificate level, through to diploma and degree.


University courses have an academic focus. Universities offer degrees, diplomas, certificates and postgraduate programmes of study. The most common university programme is the degree.

A bachelors degree usually takes at least three years to complete. Degrees can be general, such as a Bachelor of Arts or Science, or focused on a specific vocation, such as a Bachelor of Veterinary Science.

A general degree will give you a wide range of skills in research, information gathering and problem solving. Degrees in specific subjects provide these skills and may also lead to work in a specific job or industry.


Wānanga deliver educational programmes and opportunities to all New Zealanders within a supportive Maori kaupapa. A strong tikanga Maori environment is provided. Wānanga offer degree, diploma and certificate courses.


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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