Qualification group

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas


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

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 are similarly aimed at practitioners looking for professional development and/or considering more advanced study. As well as offering structured courses, many allow you to undertake an independent project or research.

Entry requirements

Admission to both postgraduate certificates and diplomas are based on your ability to undertake postgraduate study in a specialist field of enquiry or professional practice. The primary basis for selection is on academic merit however consideration may also be given to other factors.

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 to gain entry.

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

Find out how to apply for postgraduate qualifications.

Qualification options

Postgraduate certificates can be studied in arts, education, science, engineering and health at UC:

UC offers postgraduate diplomas in a wide range of disciplines:


Postgraduate certificates require 60 points of study and can be completed in six months of full-time study or part-time over two years. Credit is usually transferrable to a postgraduate diploma, and potential to a master’s.

Postgraduate diplomas can typically be completed in one year of full-time study or part-time over up to two years.

Some postgraduate diplomas in the fields of teaching and health science can be completed through distance learning allowing practising teachers and healthcare workers to upgrade or extend their existing qualifications with minimal on-campus time.

Further study

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

Coursework completed as part of the postgraduate diploma can frequently be applied to a two-part master’s programme. Coursework being the foundation with a research thesis required to complete the second part of the degree.

If you have fallen short of the full requirements for direct admission to a master’s programme, 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 programme may be granted on successful completion of a postgraduate diploma. Talk to the school or department Postgraduate Coordinator to determine if this option might be right for you.

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Kate Tinnelly

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