Entry requirements

You'll need to meet our entry requirements for academic qualifications and English proficiency—plus have some valuable personal qualities.

We will make our decision about accepting you as a doctoral candidate based on your academic record, your research background, and the availability of supervision and other resources in the area of your research interests. You are not guaranteed admission to a doctoral programme at the University even if you hold one of the entry requirement qualifications ('prerequisites') listed below.

Academic qualification requirements

From a New Zealand university

If you have studied at a university in New Zealand you will need:

  • a Bachelor's degree with Honours or a Master's degree with a GPA* of no less than 6 (letter grade B+), or
  • to be currently enrolled in a Master's thesis at this University and meet the requirements for conversion to a PhD, or
  • be able to produce evidence to the satisfaction of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Research, of other adequate training and the ability to proceed with the proposed course for the degree.

The calculation of your GPA will depend on your prerequisite degree.

From a university outside New Zealand

International applicants are expected to have equivalent qualifications to those required of New Zealand


  • If you have a four-year Bachelor's degree graded in a four-point GPA system, you will need to have a GPA of at least 3.0 out of 4.0.
  • If you have a Bachelor's degree graded in the British system (including from India), you must have been awarded the degree with first or upper second-class Honours.
  • Or you will need to be able to produce evidence to the satisfaction of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Research, of other adequate training and the ability to proceed with the proposed course for the degree.

If your first language is not English, you must also meet the English language requirements.

For some programmes, you may need to provide evidence of relevant work or research experience.

Certified copies

You must provide certified copies of academic transcripts for any qualifications, except for those awarded by this University. Applicants from EU countries must also provide the Diploma Supplement. If your application is successful, we may request to see the original transcripts.

If your documents are in a language other than English, you must attach English translations certified by an accredited translator and bearing the translator's official stamp. You'll need to upload both certified copies of your academic transcript and certified copies of the translation.

GPA calculations

Your Grade Point Average (GPA) is calculated as per approved University Research Committee methods for doctoral assessment. These will be based, where possible, on 240 points (or equivalent) from the relevant qualification(s) that provides admission to the doctoral programme. For example, based on courses at levels 400 and 500 (or equivalent) completed as part of your Honours or Master's degree.

English language requirements

If you are an international student and your first language is not English, you must provide evidence of your English proficiency before you will be accepted as a doctoral candidate. The University's English language requirements are strict and are not negotiable.

If you do not provide evidence that you meet these requirements, your Offer of Place will only be conditional—which will affect your ability to obtain a student visa.

The minimum requirements are:

  • TOEFL: minimum score of 90 with a minimum of 21 in writing and other sub-scores at a minimum of the mid-point of high-intermediate level, or
  • IELTS: Academic overall band of 6.5, no sub-score below 6 (Education and Law have slightly higher requirements), or
  • a minimum of two ratings of 5 and two ratings of 4 in the Victoria University of Wellington English for Academic Purposes test, or
  • Pearson Test of English, with a score of 58 (with a communicative score of not less than 50).

On average it takes three months of full-time English language study to improve an overall IELTS bandwidth score by 0.5 or a TOEFL score by 25 points.

Please note: The Faculty of Education and Faculty of Law require a higher level of English proficiency:

Faculty of Education - IELTS: an overall band of 6.5, with no sub-score below 6.5 (or equivalent)

Faculty of Law - IELTS: an overall band of 7, including a writing sub-score of 7 and no sub-score below 6.5 (or equivalent)

English for Academic Purposes programme

The University offers an English for Academic Purposes programme, leading to the award of a Certificate of Proficiency in English. You may wish to enrol in this programme before you begin your doctoral studies.

Online English tests

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will accept some online/at home versions of English proficiency tests.


ETS/TOEFL is now offering a special Home Edition of the TOEFL iBT test. Visit the TOEFL website for more information.

Important qualities

Having the right academic qualifications and competence in English may not be enough for you to succeed as a doctoral candidate. You will also need to:

  • have a strong interest in doing a substantial research project over an extended period of time
  • be self-disciplined and focused on your research
  • be persistent in the face of setbacks
  • be willing to respond effectively to advice and criticism
  • be able to work independently
  • be willing to work within the scholarly tradition
  • have stable financial and personal circumstances
  • be able to write well, as you'll need to communicate your results and write a thesis.