Studying in New Zealand

Applying to study overseas with NCEA

NCEA is New Zealand's national school-leaver qualification and is recognised by many other countries as equivalent to their own qualifications.

Before you apply

If you apply for admission to a higher education provider overseas, the provider usually requires you to have achieved the university entrance standard set by the country in which you studied.

Each university or tertiary provider will have their own entry requirements and may have additional requirements for students applying with NCEA.

Contact the university or education provider before you choose your NCEA subjects so you know in advance what is required.

Documents you may need

You will need to check which documents you may need with the education provider you're applying to – different countries and providers have different requirements.

NZQA can provide:

  • New Zealand Record of Achievement
  • NCEA and university entrance certificates
  • Overseas Results Notice – there are specific options for Germany or Thailand
  • grade point average estimates.

Getting NZ qualification documents

How other countries recognise NCEA

We have official recognition arrangements with some countries, and have completed assessments with others, looking at how NCEA compares with their school-leaver qualifications.


Australia recognises NCEA Level 3 as broadly equivalent to its Senior Secondary Certificates of Education. You can use your NCEA results to apply for entry to Australian universities.

Applying to study at Australian universities

How Australian and New Zealand qualifications compare


New Zealand is a signatory to the Lisbon Recognition Convention, which is the main legal agreement on qualification recognition in Europe.

How European Union and New Zealand qualifications compare


NZQA has an agreement with The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz or KMK) to convert NCEA Level 3 results for Abitur (Germany's school leaving qualification).

Applying to study at a German university


The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) recognises NCEA Level 3 as equivalent to its university entrance requirement.

You may want to include a copy of this letter from the Association of Indian Universities with your university application:

AIU letter (PDF, 63KB)

Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea formally recognises that the senior secondary school curricula of Korea and New Zealand are broadly comparable.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) completed a joint research report looking at the education systems of the two countries, and provided a curriculum-to-curriculum analysis of Mathematics and Science subjects.

The joint research report supports higher education institutions in both countries to make informed decisions about the comparability of the Korean High School Certificate and the New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement Level 3.

You may want to include a copy of the joint statement in support of an application to study in Korea.

Read the Joint Statement (PDF, 156KB).

Read the full report (PDF, 2MB).


The National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore University of Technology and Design all accept NCEA Level 3 for university admission, without any further English language requirements or university entrance exam scores.

New Zealand admission requirements – National University of Singapore


Spain accepts NCEA for further study.

Students who have completed year 13 in New Zealand and want to apply to university in Spain will need to have their record of learning authenticated. You will also need to apply to sit the Universities Entrance Exam at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED).

Details of application requirements are in the Letter from the Embassy of Spain (PDF, 275KB).


NZQA provides an Overseas Results Notice that has been specifically developed for Thai foreign-fee paying students to use to support their applications to enter further study in Thailand.

Students need to check admission requirements for the universities to which they plan to enrol.

Applying to study in Thailand

United Kingdom

There is no official arrangement between the UK and New Zealand. However, the UK recognises levels of NCEA as equivalent to different levels of GCSE and GCE.

UK ENIC – the UK National Information Centre for the recognition and evaluation of international qualifications recognises NCEA.

It compares NCEA Level 2 to the:

  • General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) (grades A*–C/9-4)
  • Scottish National 5 (grades A-C)
  • Intermediate Welsh Baccalaureate.

It compares NCEA Level 3 with:

  • University Entrance to the GCE Advanced (A) Level
  • Scottish Advanced Higher
  • Scottish Baccalaureate
  • Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate.

Applying to study in the UK

United States

NCEA is generally accepted by colleges and universities in the United States as part of their admissions requirement.

College and university admission is determined by a number of factors, including Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and senior secondary school qualifications. Check with your chosen college or university about their admission requirements.

Applying to study in the US

Other countries

If you want to apply for tertiary education in a country not listed above, contact the education provider as far in advance as you can to find out what their requirements are.

We have qualification recognition arrangements with some countries that may help with your application.

Recognition arrangements with other countries

Contact us

For more information, or to give us feedback, please email us at

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