NCEA University Entrance

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the main secondary school qualification for New Zealand Students.

How to gain NCEA

NCEA credits can be accumulated over several years. Assessment usually takes place in New Zealand high schools from Year 11 to Year 13. 

NCEA is administered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). NZQA applies the standards and awards for University Entrance to New Zealand universities.

Minimum NCEA requirements for University Entrance

If you have obtained, or expect to obtain, University Entrance through NCEA, your admission will be processed automatically and can apply to enrol before the application deadlines.

To qualify you will need to have at least the following:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3, made up of:
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading
    • 5 credits in writing
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • achievement standards – specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or
    • unit standards - package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required).

Once you have met the requirements for University Entrance it will appear on your Record of Achievement.

Full details of the NCEA University Entrance requirements see the NZQA website.

If you are a Year 12 student with an exceptional academic record and are applying to come to UC before completing Year 13 (must have school's approval) OR are a NZ Secondary School Exchange student please refer to the Discretionary Entrance page for information regarding your admission pathway.

Preferential Entry

If you are a high achiever and score at least 150 for NCEA Level 3, you are eligible for Preferential Entry. This means you will have first choice of qualifications and courses.

Falling short of University Entrance

If you haven’t achieved University Entrance through NCEA, you may be able to qualify for admission to UC by completing the Certificate in University Preparation.

If you are only a few credits short of NCEA University Entrance then your own secondary school or Hagley College might be able to help you catch up after the official NCEA release date. If you are enrolled in Hagley's Intensive Catch Up Programme and are on track to achieve NCEA University Entrance before the start of UC's Semester 1, then you will be able to start at UC in Semester 1. For further information see the Hagley Catch Up to UC flyer (PDF 2.5MB) or visit the Catch Up College web page on Hagley College's website.

More information

Liaison Office
Freephone in New Zealand 0800 VARSITY (827 748)
Phone +64 3 364 2459

If you don’t quite feel ready to tackle degree level study, there are a variety of study options available to prepare you for successful university study.

If you’re a New Zealand student and do not yet meet the requirements for UC admission, you may still be eligible to gain admission through the Certificate in University Preparation.

If you’re from outside New Zealand and want to study at UC but don’t yet meet the UC entry requirements, you may be eligible for another preparatory programme.