International recognition of NCEA

International recognition of NCEA matters to you if you are:

  • a New Zealand student who wants to study abroad at the tertiary level
  • an international student who wants to study in New Zealand at the senior secondary level.

NCEA is New Zealand's national school-leaver qualification

NCEA (the National Certificate of Educational Achievement) is the main secondary school qualification in New Zealand.

NCEA is actually three certificates: it can be awarded at Levels 1, 2 and 3. Students usually begin studying for their NCEA Level 1 in Year 11 and continue through Years 12 and 13 (from ages 15 through to 18).

NCEA is recognised by overseas universities

NCEA is New Zealand's national school-leaver qualification and is well-recognised overseas. It is well-regarded by employers and used for selection by universities, both in New Zealand and in other countries.

For details, see the Specific country requirements for the recognition of NCEA.

University entrance requirements around the world

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

In general, other (non-university) tertiary education providers overseas also require you to have achieved comparable entrance standards set by the country in which you studied.

In addition, universities set their own entry requirements and can set special requirements for limited entry courses. Talk to your chosen university about their particular requirements.

International Qualifications for Entry to University or College

NCEA is listed in the guide ‘International Qualifications for Entry to University or College’. This reference guide is published annually by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).  NZQA updates this entry annually.

Education providers in the United Kingdom use the guide to assess international students’ school leaving qualifications. Other countries also refer to it, as an authoritative guide.

You can read the New Zealand entry on NCEA in the International qualifications for entry to university or college on the UCAS website.

More about studying for NCEA

You can read more about what it’s like to study for NCEA in our brochure, ‘Study in New Zealand: a guide for students considering secondary school study’.

The brochure is available in English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, German, Japanese, and Spanish.

You can download the brochure, or order print copies from NZQA brochures and videos.

International recognition of other qualifications

NZQA is currently working on recognition of qualifications with countries around the world. Some of these qualifications are at the secondary level, and some are at the tertiary level. You can read about the countries we are working with and the progress we are making, in Our role in international education.

Contact us

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

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