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Study science and explore the unknown

Discover how the natural world works and gain the skills to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Why choose New Zealand

What subject do you want to study?

Why study science in New Zealand?

Studying science in New Zealand combines a first-class academic education with practical, hands-on learning that teaches you to ask questions and think critically.

While you’re studying abroad you may be learning in labs, research centres and field stations, from marine reserves to Scott Base in Antarctica. You’ll be taught by expert teachers, work in teams to research real-world problems, and gain globally-recognised qualifications.

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There’s no better place to discover the wonders of the natural world than New Zealand, with its wide open spaces and awe-inspiring landscapes.

New Zealand’s relaxed work/life balance gives you more time to explore the country during your overseas study experience. We have a friendly, inclusive and multicultural society, and are ranked the fourth most peaceful nation on Earth.

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

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Science graduates from New Zealand gain globally-recognised qualifications and the ability to think critically and creatively about challenging issues – ideal skills for the modern workplace.

Science graduates are highly sought-after by employers, who value capability skills such as flexibility, teamwork and workplace-relevant English language abilities. Many science careers are on our skills shortages list, so you may be able to work here after graduating.

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Case study

Quality research attracts US student

Master of Marine Science student Lindsay Wickman chose to study at the University of Otago because of the quality of its research and teaching staff.

“I knew that research on the conservation of marine mammals was very good here - my advisors are world-renowned, so I chose the university because of them,” says Lindsay, who is from the US.

“The study of marine science is very practical and hands-on here. We spend more time planning and completing scientific experiments than we do going to lectures. Otago has very good boats and equipment - I’ve been out on a boat at least once a month.

“In the US internships are often extremely competitive and unpaid. Personally, I found it easier to find a paid internship and it was definitely a highlight of my work experiences so far.

“As much is asked of me at work here as in the US, but in a less pressured way - it's a more relaxed atmosphere. And many weekends I’m still able to get out to the peninsula or the hills.”

Lindsay Wickman, 

Master of Marine Science, University of Otago

Case study

Waving to strangers

Being closer to hobbits is just one of the reasons Chinese student Meiqi Sun loves studying in New Zealand.

“Many people in many family chose to study abroad, in the US or England, so I wanted to study somewhere new,” she says.

“I came to New Zealand after seeing some of my professor’s videos on YouTube - he is very good. I knew that New Zealanders are very friendly and that it is safer to stay here than in other countries. Also, I am a big fan of hobbits.

“I am in a homestay, so I Skyped my parents and showed them my host family’s house. My homestay family are very friendly and show me around Otago. We've been to lots of places together, such as St Clair, Doctor’s Point, Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru and Middlemarch.

“People are easy to get along with here. My homestay mum says hello to all her neighbours, and the people who are exercising or walk past me on my way home say hello to me too.

“It encouraged me a lot, so I started to wave back one day. In my country, I say hello to my neighbours but not to strangers because everyone is too busy and too shy to say hi.

"I also really appreciate my friends, who not only help me with my English but also encourage me to keep going all the time. I feel so lucky to meet all of them here."

Meiqi Sun, 

Bachelor of Psychology, University of Otago

Case study

Balancing work and study

Indian PhD student Chhaya Chaudhary has been able to offset the cost of her studies by working in the examinations office of the University of Auckland.

“My manager taught me how to manage the exams and arrange everything for the students. Now I can conduct exam supervision by myself,” says Chhaya, who was drawn to New Zealand by the strength of its research in her specialist area, marine science.

“It is a good job, and I can fit it around my studies. The people I work with are very professional but also very nice and easy-going.

“I work for about 10 hours a week, which is good because I don’t want my work to hamper my PhD studies. I try to keep a balance between my PhD and my work.”

Chhaya says it has also been helpful that international PhD students pay the same fees as New Zealand students.

Chhaya Chaudhary, 

PhD in Marine Sciences, University of Auckland

Case study

Science that benefits society

After completing a PhD in Physics at the University of Canterbury, Ojas Mahapatra was appointed CEO of Photonic Innovations Ltd in Christchurch.

“The company aims to commercialise a new technology which detects toxic gases in industrial environments, thereby helping to safeguard employee health,” Ojas says.

“I always aspired to be an entrepreneur and was always interested in the applications of what we studied. Fundamentals and theory are good, but if they do not translate into something which benefits society we are all wasting time and money.

“As far as a PhD in Physics or Nanotechnology goes, it is wonderful. You have the chance to work on extremely sophisticated million-dollar equipment which you can brag about all your life!”

Ojas Mahaptra, 

PhD in Physics, specialising in nanotechnology, University of Canterbury

Hear from international science students and graduates

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Making a contribution to climate change research

Daniel Price was drawn to New Zealand to further his interest in one of the world’s most extreme environments - Antarctica.

For his PhD in Antarctic Studies at the University of Canterbury, Dan, from the UK, analysed NASA and European Space Agency satellite data on the thickness of the Antarctic sea ice.

He used his own fieldwork to validate the satellite data and to produce a 3D study of a previously unmapped area of the western Ross Sea.

“I spent three weeks on the ice one summer, carrying out ground validation for the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2,” he says.

“It was a privilege to work in such a beautiful and unique environment with some of the leading experts in my study area.

“One of the highlights was seeing wildlife, like emperor penguins.”

He said the university offered a world-class research centre and great academic support.

“My personal motivation comes from a passion for the natural world and a realisation of our need to understand it,” says Dan.

“Making a contribution to the scientific study of our environment, especially with regards to human-induced climate change, is highly rewarding.”

Daniel Price

PhD in Antarctic Studies, University of Canterbury

kristine ann sotolo

Reaching a higher level in food science

Kristine Ann Sotolo, from the Philippines, completed a Master of Science specialising in food science at AUT.

She is now a science research specialist in the food processing division of the Industrial Technology Development Institute in the Philippines.

Kristine says studying in New Zealand helped her reach a higher level in her work.

“It was a great experience for me. I appreciated AUT’s small classes and supportive lecturers, and the facilities and equipment were very sophisticated.

“My lecturers and supervisors also encouraged me to successfully publish an article about my work in Molecules, an open access organic chemistry journal.”

Being able to explore New Zealand was a highlight of her time here. “I love nature and New Zealand is a beautiful country. I really enjoyed travelling all over New Zealand on weekends or during the holidays.

”I loved staying in the university accommodation and my Kiwi roommates helped me with learning the local culture."

Kristine Ann Sotolo

Master of Science, specialising in food science, AUT

Study pathway

Science qualifications range from certificates and diplomas through to a Bachelor of Science or a Master of Science. There are also many opportunities for postgraduate study.


Post graduate

  • Year 1
  • Year 2
  • Year 3
  • Year 4
  • Year 5
  • Year 6
Diploma in Science or Applied Science
A Diploma in Science or Applied Science is for students who want to gain knowledge of a specific area of science at undergraduate level.
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science, with or without Honours, is a flexible degree that allows you to gain general and specialised subject knowledge.
Graduate Diploma in Science
A Graduate Diploma in Science is available in a wide range of subjects to suit your area of interest.
Postgraduate Diploma in Science
A Postgraduate Diploma in Science is an opportunity to gain a postgraduate qualification in a specific subject area without carrying out a research-based degree. In some cases, this could also be the first year of a Master degree.
Master of Science
A Master of Science gives you an opportunity to carry out independent research in an area of interest.
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 science include:

  • Marine biologists study plants and animals that live in the sea, and the relationship between them and their environment.
    Marine biologist
  • Food scientists investigate food, cooking and consumption.
    Food scientist
  • Environmental scientists study plants, animals and microorganisms, and give advice on reducing the harmful effects of human activity.
    Environmental scientist
  • Geologists study the structure and history of the Earth and earth processes.
  • Biotechnologists study living organisms such as animals, plants, fungi and viruses, and use this research to develop medical, industrial and agricultural products.

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