Understanding New Zealand qualifications

Whether you’re studying at secondary or tertiary level, it’s a good idea to check that your study programme will lead towards a qualification on the NZQF, because this means it’s quality assured.

Qualifications on the NZQF lay out a clear pathway to the level of knowledge and skills that you’ll have gained when you graduate, as well as what further education and employment opportunities the qualification could lead to.

When you need definitive information about all quality assured qualifications in New Zealand, the NZQF is where you’ll find it.

Levels of the NZQF

Handy tip

When you look at a programme of study in New Zealand, it should tell you which level on the NZQF you’d achieve when you graduate, as well as the type of qualifications – such as a certificate, diploma or degree.

The NZQF is divided into 10 levels, and covers a range of qualifications from certificates to doctoral degrees. The levels are based on how complex the learning is, with a level 1 certificate the least complex.

At secondary school, students work towards NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement), which covers levels 1 to 3 of the NZQF.

After secondary school, students who want to continue their study at a tertiary level can choose from a number of education options ranging from universities to polytechnics, private training establishments, industry training organisations and more. Students may need to finish secondary school to study at this level.

Qualification types on the NZQF

LevelCertificateDiplomaDegree
10     Doctoral Degree

NZQF Level 10

Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of study or professional practice. Learn more about Level 10
9     Master's Degree

NZQF Level 9

Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge, and a critical awareness of issues in a field of study or practice. Learn more about Level 9
8 Postgraduate Certificate Postgraduate Diploma Bachelor Honours Degree

NZQF Level 8

Advanced technical and/or theoretical knowledge in a discipline or practice, involving a critical understanding of the underpinning key principles. Learn more about Level 8
7 Graduate Certificate Graduate Diploma Bachelor's Degree

NZQF Level 7

Specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in one or more fields of work or study. Learn more about Level 7
6 Certificate Diploma  

NZQF Level 6

Specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in a field of work or study. Learn more about Level 6
5 Certificate Diploma  

NZQF Level 5

Broad operational or technical and theoretical knowledge within a specific field of work or study. Learn more about Level 5
4 Certificate    

NZQF Level 4

Broad operational and theoretical knowledge in a field of work or study. Learn more about Level 4
3 Certificate    

NZQF Level 3

Some operational and theoretical knowledge in a field of work or study. Learn more about Level 3
2 Certificate    

NZQF Level 2

Basic factual and/or operational knowledge of a field of work or study. Learn more about Level 2
1 Certificate    

NZQF Level 1

Basic general and/or foundation knowledge. Learn more about Level 1

Skills you’ll learn at each level of the NZQF

This table gives you details of what a student is expected to know, do and be after graduating at a particular level. You’ll see that outside of just competence, NZQF levels also expect certain attitudes, behaviours and attributes from students.

LevelKnowledge
1 Basic general and/or foundation knowledge

Skills

Apply basic solutions to simple problems

Apply basic skills required to carry out simple tasks

Highly structured contexts

Requiring some responsibility for own learning Interacting with others

2 Basic factual and/or operational knowledge of a field of work or study

Skills

Apply known solutions to familiar problems

Apply standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Select and apply a range of standard and non-standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Application

General supervision

Requiring some responsibility for own learning and performance

Collaborating with others

3 Some operational and theoretical knowledge in a field of work or study

Skills

Select and apply from a range of known solutions to familiar problems

Apply a range of standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Application

General supervision

Requiring some responsibility for own learning and performance

Collaborating with others

4 Broad operational and theoretical knowledge in a field of work or study

Skills

Select and apply solutions to familiar and sometimes unfamiliar problems

Select and apply a range of standard and non-standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Application

Self-management of learning and performance under broad guidance

Some responsibility for performance of others

5 Broad operational or technical and theoretical knowledge within a specific field of work or study

Skills

Select and apply a range of solutions to familiar and sometimes unfamiliar problems

Select and apply a range of standard and non-standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Application

Complete self-management of learning and performance within defined contexts

Some responsibility for the management of learning and performance of others

6 Specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in a field of work or study

Skills

Analyse and generate solutions to familiar and unfamiliar problems

Select and apply a range of standard and non-standard processes relevant to the field of work or study

Application

Complete self-management of learning and performance within dynamic contexts

Responsibility for leadership within dynamic contexts

7 Specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in one or more fields of work or study

Skills

Specialised technical or theoretical knowledge with depth in one or more fields of work or study

Application

Advanced generic skills and/or specialist knowledge and skills in a professional context or field of study

8 Advanced technical and/or theoretical knowledge in a discipline or practice, involving a critical understanding of the underpinning key principles

Skills

Analyse, generate solutions to complex and sometimes unpredictable problems

Evaluate and apply a range of processes relevant to the field of work or study

Application

Developing identification with a profession and/or discipline through application of advanced generic skills and/or specialist knowledge and skills

Some responsibility for integrity of profession or discipline

9 Highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge, and a critical awareness of issues in a field of study or practice

Skills

Develop and apply new skills and techniques to existing or emerging problems

Mastery of the field of study or practice to an advanced level

Application

Independent application of highly specialised knowledge and skills within a discipline or professional practice

Some responsibility for leadership within the profession or discipline

10 Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of study or professional practice

Skills

Critical reflection on existing knowledge or practice and the creation of new knowledge

Application

Sustained commitment to the professional integrity and to the development of new ideas or practices at the forefront of discipline or professional practice

What you’ll get once you complete a qualification

Here are the components you’ll receive after completing a qualification on the NZQF:

  1. A certificate of your achievement: Provided to you by your education organisation, this shows you’ve achieved a level of learning and understanding that’s outlined in the outcome statement for the qualification.
  2. Addition of the qualification onto your Record of Achievement: If your qualification listed on the NZQF, it will be added to your Record of Achievement. Your Record of Achievement has all the quality-assured (NZQF-listed) learning you’ve completed, and will be updated with each new qualification you complete.]

Where to next?

Secondary Students

Tertiary Education

 
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