NCEA credits needed for study, apprenticeships and training

Find out what NCEA credits you need to enter tertiary study or on-the-job training, including apprenticeships and defence, police and firefighter roles.

NCEA credits for university

To enter a New Zealand university you usually need at least University Entrance (UE), made up of:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • three approved NCEA subjects at Level 3 with 14 credits in each
  • 10 literacy credits at Level 2 or above – 5 credits in reading and 5 in writing
  • 10 approved numeracy credits at Level 1 or above.

Your record of achievement will show whether you qualify for University Entrance.

Rank scores

Some universities offer you guaranteed entry if you reach their guaranteed entry rank score (unless there are also other entry requirements).

Your rank score summarises your best NCEA results into points and:

  • is based on your University Entrance-approved subjects
  • is calculated on your best NCEA Level 3 credits
  • allocates higher points for excellence and merit grades.

Qualifications may have different minimum rank scores for enrolment. For example:

Other requirements for entering university

Depending on the course you want to enrol in, and who provides it, you may also need to:

  • pass particular NCEA subjects or achievement standards
  • attend an interview or audition
  • provide a portfolio
  • have relevant voluntary or paid work experience
  • pass police checks
  • provide references.

NCEA credits for wānanga, private training establishments and polytechnics

Entry requirements for wānanga, private training establishments, and institutes of technology and polytechnics vary:

  • Level 1 to 4 certificates may not have particular NCEA requirements. However, literacy and numeracy are usually useful, and some courses require specific NCEA subjects.
  • Level 5 and 6 certificate and diploma entry requirements vary from NCEA Level 2 to University Entrance.
  • Degrees usually require University Entrance or an approved Level 4, 5 or 6 qualification.

  • NZQA website - understanding New Zealand qualifications

NCEA credits for apprenticeships

NCEA maths and English to Level 2 are useful for getting an apprenticeship. For some apprenticeships you need specific NCEA subjects. For example, apprentice electricians usually need NCEA Level 2 physics.

Check our jobs database and identify the relevant industry training organisation to find out about NCEA requirements for apprenticeships you are interested in.

NCEA credits for defence jobs

To enter the Army, Navy or Air Force, you need to:

  • have at least three years of secondary schooling
  • pass medical and physical tests
  • pass aptitude tests on maths, reasoning and intelligence, for example. (NCEA Level 1 maths, English and science will help you to pass these tests.)

You may also need to meet other NCEA requirements, depending on the defence job you’ve applied for. For example, in the Army:

NCEA credits for police and firefighter jobs

If you want to become a police officer or a firefighter, NCEA literacy and numeracy credits at Level 1 are useful, but not essential.

Options if you don’t meet entry requirements

If you don’t meet all entry requirements for a course, contact the education provider as you may get special entry through lower-level courses to get you ready for study, or under a special admission category.

Updated 5 Jun 2019