What are NZQA/NZQF Level System in New Zealand?

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Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jun 9, 2022 09:42 IST

The concept of Qualifications Framework worldwide was envisaged due to the need to evaluate and rate levels of education basis learning outcomes. Qualifications that are awarded in a set geography (regional/national/global) when placed within a framework, it serves as a comprehensive reference platform in terms of learning outcomes, with a defined set of rankings that each level of qualification holds. Such reference points offer better perspectives which are particularly needed to bridge the gap between the education system and the needs of the job market in addition to helping students/guardians/recruiters make informed academic decisions. This classification of various qualifications states the exact level of knowledge and skill set a specific degree/diploma/certificate holder must ideally possess in order to accomplish the assigned task reasonably well. The Qualifications Framework model especially at various national levels is gaining momentum, with rising number of countries designing and implementing their specific National Qualifications Framework which refers largely to a uniform education and training standards.

What is NZQF?

New Zealand is the pioneer in designing and implementing a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) with the view to provide quality assured education. The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) which is the crux of the country’s education system, which is recognized worldwide, includes both secondary as well as tertiary education. It is managed by New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) which is the country’s authentic source of accurate information about all types of quality assured qualifications for national as well as international students.

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NZQF Levels

The NZQF follows a structure comprising 10 levels that cover various qualifications ranging from certificates, diplomas, degrees, to doctoral degrees and others. The levels of each qualification have been determined based on the complexity of the learning, with level 10 being the most complex. The NZQF provides the exact knowledge and experience level that corresponds to the specific qualification in addition to giving information about career opportunities each qualification leads to. Periodical reviews regulate and implement the changes such as addition or omission of a particular qualification from the NZQF which is further approved by NZQA.

Students at the secondary school, largely, cover 1-3 levels of the NZQF while students who choose to continue beyond secondary level can attain education up to level 10. Tertiary level education options include studying in technical or non-technical institutes, training schools, universities, private institutions etc. Education loans, government tertiary funding and allowances are meant only for quality assured qualifications that are on NZQF. International students also need to achieve qualifications on the NZQF to become eligible for student and graduate visas.






























Graduate Certificate

Graduate Diploma

Bachelor's Degree


Postgraduate Certificate

Postgraduate Diploma

Bachelor's Honours Degree




Master's Degree




Doctoral Degree

Learning at any stage under NZQF is aimed at enabling students to attain knowledge from basic towards higher scales. The final objective is the application of a student’s knowledge and skills that one has acquired against a context which is either well organized or extremely dynamic. The purpose of education in New Zealand is to facilitate students, native or foreign, to progressively become more skill equipped, independent and highly accountable people who can manage and undertake challenging responsibilities with a highly focused approach.

NZQF Qualifications

The qualifications which are listed in the NZQF give descriptions such as type, level, and name of the qualification, the credit value and area of a subject the qualifications cover and a few more information which helps students, especially international, make informed decisions in advance.

NZQF Qualifications

Qualification Name, Level & Type

A name is given that identifies the primary discipline

NZQF has allotted each qualification one of 10 levels

Type refers to the exact category the qualification falls under


The reason a specific qualification is included in NZQF


The outcome that is expected from the holder of a specific qualification. This helps prospective employers, learners, institutes to compare qualification

Credit Value

Every qualification is accorded with a credit value that represents the amount of learning in a qualification. 1 credit roughly equals 10 learning hours

Classification of Subject Area

New Zealand Standard Classification of Education (NZSCED) has assigned a 6-digit code to all qualifications followed by classifying qualifications into a subject area which helps during an online search


NZQF distinctly notifies about the status of each qualification included in it e.g. ‘current’, ‘expiring’ or ‘discontinued’


All Qualifications under NZQF are periodically reviewed to keep up with international standards in terms of its industry usefulness and relevance

Award of Qualification

NZQF authorizes all recognized education institutes to award qualifications to its students upon completion of learning/training

For international students seeking admission to educational institutes/universities for higher or regular studies in New Zealand, it is imperative to understand the education system of the country thoroughly. Funded by the central government of New Zealand, NZQA that handles secondary and tertiary education zones also supports the NZQF.

Description of the qualification types listed in NZQF:

  • Level – 1 (Certificate): It provides basic knowledge and skills for work that can be applied to manage general tasks and it must carry 40 credits.
  • Level – 2 (Certificate): A certificate holder at this level demonstrates basic factual or operational knowledge in the specific subject area. Minimum 40 credits are required at this level.
  • Level – 3 (Certificate): Knowledge and skills at this level are gained to manage work within a specified area, carrying a minimum of 40 credits.
  • Level – 4 (Certificate): A level 4 certificate holder is capable of working in specialized work areas. The level comprises at least 40 credits.
  • Level – 5 (Certificate, Diploma): A certificate at this level enables the holder with theoretical/technical knowledge and skills within a part of a specified work area and carries minimum 40 credits. A diploma holder at level-5 can accomplish tasks in a specific workspace through theoretical/technical knowledge and skills in an entire specified area of work. A minimum of 120 credit is given. 
  • Level – 6 (Certificate): A certificate holder at this level demonstrates theoretical/technical knowledge and skills within a specific area of a specialized work space carrying at least 40 credits.
  • Level – 6 (Diploma): A diploma holder at this level can accomplish specialized functions in the entire designated area of work through theoretical/technical knowledge and skills. Minimum 120 credits are required. 
  • Level – 7 (Bachelor’s Degree, Graduate Diploma, Certificate): Paving the way for various postgraduate courses Bachelor’s Degree makes a learner proficient in the major subject armed with an independent and analytical approach. 

The Graduate diploma at this level contains 120 credits and qualifies the holder with specialized knowledge and skills in one or more work areas.

Graduate Certificate prepares a student to learn and practice in a new area of study that requires 60 credits.

  • Level – 8 (Postgraduate Diploma, Honours Degree, Certificate): A PG diploma expands previous knowledge and skills further on the primary subject in which the individual acquired his graduate degree/diploma/certificate. 

Bachelor Honours degree equips the holder with the competence to conduct end-to-end research work with demonstrable knowledge, skills, and novel concepts.

With a minimum requirement of 60 credits, PG Certificate empowers learners with advanced knowledge in a distinct area of study.

  • Level – 9 (Master’s Degree): With a minimum of 240 credits at level 9, Master’s degree equals advanced knowledge in a specialized field.
  • Level – 10 (Doctoral Degree): A stage beyond Master’s, Doctoral degree placed at level 10 requires a minimum of 360 credits where the degree holder becomes proficient enough to make substantial contributions in the field of education/research.

Credit Points

At each level of a qualification achieved as per NZQF, a student also completes a certain number of credit points. The credit value is directly proportional to the amount of learning in the qualification, for example – 1 credit represents 10 hours of learning. Hence, a typical learner in New Zealand, studying in a full-time course, can complete around 120 credits of learning in one academic year.

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NZQA/NZQF Level System in New Zealand FAQs

Q. What is the difference between NZQA and NZQF?

A. NZQA - New Zealand's Qualification Austhority enable and ensures that New Zealand qualifications are accepted as credible and robust, nationally and internationally. They basically administer the New Zealand Qualifications Framework or NZQF.

Q. How can students apply to obtain their NZQA Certificate?

A. Applicants are required to complete the Secondary and Tertiary Records online application to obtain their National Certificate or Diploma or even request them to replace it.

Q. Which level of NZQA is considered a degree?

A. Qualifications starting at levels 7-10 are degrees and their related qualifications. For degrees, NZQA considers the associated qualification beside the proposed programme.

Q. What does a student get after completing his/her qualification in New Zealand?

A. A student is usually awarded with a certificate of achievement which is provided by their educational institution stating the qualification earned by the students in the outcome statement. Also if the qualification of the student is listed on the NZQF, their education provider would update the NZQA about it, which will in turn be be added to the student's NZROA. .

Q. Does NZQF limit applicants from learning at any stage of their lives?

A. No, NZQF does not limit applicants from learning at any stage of their lives. Qualifications are rather recognised and infact NZQF understands that learning can happen at any stage of a person’s life, in either part-time or full-time study, and in a range of places and ways:
  • On-job
  • In education institutions
  • Electronically / online / by distance - in a mixture of ways.

Q. How many credit points are required to pursue Level 6 Diploma course?

A. For a diploma that is listed at level 6, applicants willing to take admission It must have completed a minimum of 120 credit points from level 5 or above, including at least 72 credits at level 6 or above.

Q. What is Mätauranga Mäori Evaluative Quality Assurance?

A. Mätauranga Mäori Evaluative Quality Assurance or MM EQA provides quality assurance for TEOs that deliver qualifications or programmes based on Mätauranga Mäori. MMEQA is integrated into all parts of the quality assurance framework and uses evaluative approaches developed collectively with the sector.

Q. How are new degree programs approved by NZQF?

A. New degree programmes (at level 7-10 on the NZQF) are approved if they have appropriate learning outcomes and content, delivery methods, equipment, facilities, staff, regulations, assessment and moderation. Also they must can be taught by staff engaged in research. Degree programme applications are evaluated by a panel with the necessary skills and knowledge who advise the TEO and NZQA about the quality of the application.
About the Author
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert

A passionate writer and a literature fanatic, Aishwarya Bhatnagar has 4+ years of experience - working in EdTech with a strong focus on studying abroad. She holds a postgraduate degree in Linguistics from Delhi Univ... Read Full Bio




Narayana Reddy

4 months ago

Newzealand universities TOEFL home edition accepted or not accepted

Reply to Narayana Reddy


Rahul Singha

4 months ago

Hello Narayana. Thank you for writing in. The New Zealand government does not currently accept English-language tests that are taken at home, including the TOEFL iBT Home Edition.You are advised to appear for the test from the test centre.

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