Master of Specialist Teaching


The Master of Specialist Teaching programme is relevant for educators working with children and learners who have special educational needs in early childhood, primary and secondary sectors.

The programme is coursework-based, meaning it is ideal for educators who aim to provide professional leadership in their area of expertise but who do not wish to undertake a thesis. The MSpecTchg employs a mix of distance and blended learning delivery options that provide flexibility for all students, regardless of location.

The degree can be awarded unendorsed or endorsed in one of four areas. Graduates will gain a comprehensive understanding of their selected specialism, and will have the expertise, knowledge, interdisciplinary networks, and strategies to provide innovative approaches to meet children’s and learners’ special education needs in their work place.

Entry requirements

Normally the minimum requirement is a three-year bachelor’s degree from a New Zealand university, or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered to be equivalent. If you gained your qualifications overseas, these will need to be assessed to make sure they are of an equivalent standard. You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Qualification specific requirements

Candidates wishing to enrol in the Master of Specialist Teaching must have either:

  • qualified for a New Zealand teacher education degree (to a minimum standard of attainment); and/or
  • qualified for a recognised three year diploma in early childhood, primary, or secondary teaching in New Zealand (to a minimum standard of attainment); and either
    hold a current teacher registration in New Zealand**, and normally have acquired at least two years relevant experience as a teacher or educator in a recognised educational work-place or community setting; or
        - have been admitted ad eundem statum to enrol for the Master in Specialist Teaching; and
  • been approved as a candidate by the Dean of Education.

Candidates who have completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching or equivalent qualification demonstrating appropriate academic achievement may be granted Recognition of Prior Learning, enabling them to gain entry directly to Part II of the programme.

The relevance and standard of undergraduate studies and any subsequent professional work experience are the main criteria of approval.

** Candidates who do not hold current New Zealand professional teacher registration will be required to undergo police vetting prior to gaining entry into the programme. Such candidates must meet requirements equivalent to those set down by the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand for registration as a teacher in terms of character and fitness to be a teacher.

For full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Specialist Teaching or use the admission requirements checker

Qualification structure and duration

The MSpecTchg consists of two parts. In Part I, students complete one compulsory core theory and foundations course (30 points), and three compulsory courses (90 points) from one of the endorsement schedules. Each endorsement includes:

  • one specialist theory and foundations course
  • one professional practice course (including practical assignments)
  • one extended practicum course including experience in specialty practice settings.

On satisfactory completion of Part I with a B grade average or higher, students will be eligible to progress to Part II. (Note: completion of the Postgraduate Certificate in Specialist Teaching or equivalent can count as Part I.)

Part II consists of two 30-point courses, one chosen from the three courses in the schedule and one optional course.

Part II can be completed by distance study.


Participants can study this master's in one year full-time and up to four years part-time. Students can begin their studies in February or July.

Subjects and courses

The degree can be awarded unendorsed or endorsed in one of four areas: 

  • Complex Educational Needs
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Early Intervention
  • Learning and Behaviour.

For the up-to-date schedule of courses, visit our University Regulations website.

How to apply

Find out how to apply for graduate and postgraduate qualifications

Career opportunities

Postgraduate study can bring many career benefits, such as specialist skills and enhanced knowledge, entry into specific occupations, higher starting salary/progression rates, research capability/achievement and evidence of high academic attainment/self-discipline. 

Useful resources:

More information

For full requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Specialist Teaching.

For study planning help contact: 

College of Education, Health and Human Development
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Ōrakipaoa Building
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Phone +64 3 369 3333
Email education@canterbury.ac.nz