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Postgraduate certificates and diplomas

20 September 2023

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas are ideal for developing a higher level understanding and specialist skills. A postgraduate certificate is great for specialised professional development, while a postgraduate diploma is ideal for more in-depth projects and research. Check out the qualification options, entry requirements, and more.


Postgraduate certificates and diplomas develop higher level understanding and specialist skills. These are normally in the same area as your first degree, and in some instances count prior professional experience in the field for entry.

Postgraduate certificates can offer a specialised professional development opportunity. They can also be an ideal first step towards higher study.

Postgraduate diplomas are longer and more in-depth than the postgraduate certificate and many allow you to undertake an independent project or research.

Contact Future Students for advice at

Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury offers a wide variety of postgraduate certificates and diplomas:



Admission to both postgraduate certificates and diplomas are based on previous studies in a relevant bachelor’s degree, or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered to be equivalent. Some of the programmes will consider relevant professional practice as fulfilling this entry requirement. If you gained your qualifications or experience overseas, these will need to be assessed to make sure they are of an equivalent standard.

The primary basis for selection is on your Grade Point Average in your bachelor's degree and your ability to complete postgraduate study, however consideration may also be given to other factors, such as relevant work experience. A good indication of your readiness for postgraduate-level study is the achievement of B grades or better in your final-year undergraduate courses.

Admission is at the discretion of the school or department and additional requirements for entry apply. See the individual requirements for the programme you’re interested in to make sure you meet entry criteria.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements if English is your additional language.

Find out how to apply for postgraduate qualifications.

Postgraduate certificates require 60 points of study and can typically be completed in six months of full-time study or part-time up to two years or more. Credit is usually transferrable to a postgraduate diploma.

Postgraduate diplomas can typically be completed in one year of full-time study or part-time up to two years or more. Some postgraduate diplomas in professional fields, for example teaching and health sciences, can be completed through distance learning, allowing practising workers to upgrade or extend their existing qualifications with minimal on-campus time.

Coursework completed as part of the postgraduate diploma can usually be transferred to a master’s degree.

Postgraduate certificate courses in most cases form part of a postgraduate diploma in the same area. Postgraduate diplomas in turn usually form part of a master’s degree. Check with your school or department Postgraduate Coordinator early to make sure you understand the pathways available to you.

If you have fallen short of the full requirements for direct admission to a master’s degree, a postgraduate diploma can often be used as a stepping stone to prove your academic readiness for research study. Conditional admission to some master’s degrees may be granted on successful completion of a postgraduate diploma. Talk to your Postgraduate Coordinator to determine if this option might be right for you.

UC offers a wide range of higher postgraduate degrees:

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