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Harness your design creativity

Studying fashion or design in New Zealand allows you to harness your creativity, take risks and break new ground.

Why choose New Zealand

What subject do you want to study?

Why study fashion or design in New Zealand?

With three universities in the 2015 top 100 QS World University Rankings for art and design, the New Zealand education system gives you a head start in the competitive, fast-paced design world.

Whether you're studying fashion design, graphic design, industrial design or a related discipline, you'll be encouraged to think new, be innovative and challenge conventional design practice. You'll broaden your horizons with internships, competitions and exhibitions, and take a hands-on approach to using materials, processes and technologies.

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Expect to work hard and play hard when you study fashion or design in New Zealand. You'll be welcomed into the high-achieving, tight-knit design communities that contribute to our internationally-successful design sector.

In your downtime, discover the amazing natural environment of one of the world's most peaceful and least corrupt countries. New Zealand's wilderness is a spectacular adventure playground, and our lively, dynamic cities are buzzing with energy and creativity. You'll have freedom to create, and freedom to explore.

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Working while studying can be a good way to gain New Zealand work experience and help support you while you're studying abroad.

Student visa holders may be able to work up to 20 hours per week and full-time during scheduled holidays, depending on their programme of study. Masters by research or PhD students may work full-time throughout their studies.

You can study up to three consecutive programmes over five years on a single Pathway Student Visa.

Find out more about working while studying on Immigration New Zealand’s Study + Work website.

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Studying fashion or design in New Zealand gives you the internationally-recognised qualifications, real-world experience and industry-specific skills you'll need to forge your career in the design sector.

You'll study in small groups with expert leaders to gain practical experience of teamwork and meeting deadlines. Showcasing your work in shows, exhibitions and displays will help you build networks with design industry leaders.

Gain the capability skills that will give you a head start in the jobs market, including English language proficiency, punctuality, self-confidence, presentation skills, problem-solving, leadership and communication.

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Chinese fashion design and jewellery design students discuss what studying in New Zealand has meant to them. 

“In New Zealand, we focus more on the hands-on skills.”

Case study

Students supported to develop their own style

New Zealand’s high-quality education system and multicultural society drew Thai student Kamonchakrie ‘Misu' Sae Hung to study design in New Zealand.

Now in her second year of studying for a Bachelor of Design (Hons) majoring in fashion design at Massey University in Wellington, Misu says she is enjoying New Zealand’s practical style of learning.

Massey design students spend most of their time in studios, workshops and media labs, and at least two-thirds of their classes are hands-on.

“I’d never sewn before I came here, so I like how we’re able to learn new techniques and to make our own stuff,” says Misu.

“My lecturers support me to develop my own style and are always happy to answer my questions.”

Misu has also become a huge fan of Wellington.

“I love Wellington so much. I’ve been to many places around New Zealand, and Wellington is perfect - not too quiet and not too busy.

“I like the outdoors, and I like shopping and hanging out in town with my friends.”

Kamonchakrie ‘Misu' Sae Hung,

Bachelor of Design (Hons) in Fashion Design, Massey University

Case study

AUT lecturers inspire fashion student

Leona Wang has enjoyed studying fashion design at AUT so much that she is now working on her third qualification.

Leona gained a Bachelor Design degree at AUT, stayed on to extend her knowledge of fashion with a Bachelor of Art and Design (Honours), and is now studying for a Master of Art and Design.

“I learned a lot through the project-focused research during my honours year and was keen to expand on this. I really enjoy doing design projects and I’ve found my lecturers inspirational,” says Leona, from China.

She was drawn to AUT by its impressive facilities and caring staff.

Leona says it has been good to work with technicians from AUT’s textile and design lab and 3D lab.

“The lecturers are also always encouraging and positive, and guide you through your projects.”

Studying fashion in New Zealand has given Leona opportunities to showcase her designs, which are a creative blend of ethnic elements and modern technologies. She presented her work at the 2015 Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand Symposium, and a Future + Fashion event at Spark Lab.

Leona Wang,

Master of Art and Design, AUT

Case study

Fashion degree leads to top design label

South Korean student Soohee Moon was hired to work with one of New Zealand’s most well-known fashion labels after completing her studies at Otago Polytechnic.

Soohee has worked for iconic Kiwi label Nom*D on their last three collections, which gave her the chance to apply the knowledge she gained on her Bachelor of Design (Fashion) course to the practical environment of a design house workroom.

Despite a long-time interest in fashion, Soohee had no formal training in design before coming to New Zealand.

“I thought this course would provide the essential foundation for my career as a fashion designer - and I was right!” she says.

“You get to understand the nature of the fashion industry, and learn to develop your own designs as a creative individual through the course.”

A highlight of the programme was the graduation collection that students create at the end of their final year.

“It is the pinnacle of your learning, and represents who you are as an emerging designer,” says Soohee.

“You are given total freedom over your creation, and it is thrilling to be able to promote your name on your own work.”

Soohee’s goal is to launch her own fashion label.

Soohee Moon,
South Korea

Bachelor of Design (Fashion), Otago Polytechnic

Study pathway

New Zealand’s flexible education system lets you choose from professional postgraduate design qualifications to undergraduate degrees designed to give you design skills that complement a range of careers.


Post graduate

  • Year 1
  • Year 2
  • Year 3
  • Year 4
  • Year 5
  • Year 6
Diploma in Interior Design
A Diploma in Interior Design gives you the technical and practical skills to turn interior design ideas into reality.
Bachelor of Design
A Bachelor of Design teaches you how to generate ideas, solve problems and develop innovative solutions in your chosen design discipline.
Graduate Diploma in Fashion
A Post Graduate Diploma in Fashion gives you further skills and knowledge in fashion and design, such as specialised pattern-making and construction techniques.
Postgraduate Certificate in Design - 1 Semester
A Postgraduate Certificate in Design deepens your understanding of design research methods and gives you experience of a professional design environment.
Master of Design
A Master of Design is an advanced research qualification that involves taking a challenging real-world design problem through to a well-constructed solution.
A PhD is the highest tertiary honour. It involves writing a thesis - a major piece of research - over three to five years.

This is a generic pathway. Length of study may vary depending on how students choose to structure their degrees.

Jobs involving fashion or design include:

  • Fashion designers sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the clothing, accessories or shoes they’ve created.
    Fashion designer
  • Graphic designers create visual communications, from logos to websites to museum displays.
    Graphic designer
  • Industrial designers develop concepts and designs for products ranging from cars to furniture to mobile phones.
    Industrial designer
  • Costume designers are responsible for designing costumes for films, theatre and TV, to help create the look and mood of a production.
    Costume designer
  • Textile designers design and make knitted, woven and printed fabrics ranging from clothing to upholstery.
    Textile designer

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