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The University of Otago

New Zealand


Established in 1869, the University of Otago is New Zealand's first university and enjoys a long and distinguished educational heritage. The university is ranked within the top 1 per cent of universities globally, and has developed a widely-renowned research and teaching profile.

Otago has campuses in the North and South Islands, and their Dunedin campus is recognised as one of the most beautiful in the world, boasting forested hills, beaches, incredible wildlife, and a stunning natural harbour on the doorstep.

Otago delivers a superb student experience, with internationally excellent teaching, state-of-the-art facilities, world-leading research groups and a lively programme of extra-curricular events and activities.

The university offers a range of flexible study options with over 200 courses spanning four academic faculties: Health Sciences, Science, Commerce/Otago Business School, and Humanities. It is the top New Zealand institution for student performance and retention, and enjoys a five-star QS rating for employability, internationalisation, teaching and research.

As the only truly residential university in New Zealand, Otago's student lifestyle is unmatched, and supports a diverse and inclusive student community with a population of 3,000 international students.

Otago's Social Impact Studio works alongside more than 200 community organisations, running volunteering and leadership programmes which achieve impactful contributions and promote student-driven change.

Otago graduates are in high demand both domestically and internationally, with 95 per cent of students progressing directly into employment or further study after course completion.

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What's new

What's new

Teaching and Learning

  • For the seventh time in ten years, Otago was again awarded the Prime Minister's supreme award for tertiary teaching excellence in the 2021 New Zealand Tertiary Teaching Awards.
  • New international scholarships for 2022.
  • New Bachelor of Entrepreneurship.
  • New Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science.
  • The university's COVID-19 page contains up-to-date information for students and staff.


  • In 2019, Otago opened the doors to a new world-class facility at New Zealand's only national centre for Dentistry.
  • Otago's Music, Theatre and Performing Arts Centre is a brand-new multi-purpose facility with a spacious live studio, and a variety of additional spaces including control rooms, percussion rooms, social spaces and practise booths.
  • Otago Business School houses one of the largest academic trading labs in New Zealand, with 12 Bloomberg Professional terminals, giving students access to the same trading platform used by the world's leading investment companies, banks, and government agencies.

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Why Otago?

Why Otago?

Otago is one of the top research institutions in the Asia-Pacific region, with world-class teaching and a team of expert and widely experienced faculty staff. The university offers flexible study programmes, where students can combine subject areas to earn a degree that will expand future career opportunities.

Otago students are globally connected with a network of peers, researchers, and experts in their chosen fields, collaborating nationally and internationally to address questions of global concern. Otago's Business School is ranked in the top one per cent of business schools in the world, and its MBA programme is ranked number one in New Zealand.

World-class teaching and supervision

  • Otago's approachable, world-renowned teaching staff are dedicated to fostering creativity and independence and helping students achieve their visions for the future.
  • Otago graduates are globally in demand, with 95 per cent of graduates going on to employment or further academic studies. Otago's Social Impact Studio provides volunteering and leadership opportunities, while programmes like Audacious support start-ups and entrepreneurs.
  • Otago boasts some of the best completion rates for a doctorate or master's qualification in the world, with exceptional supervisory support.

State-of-the-art facilities

At Otago, old meets new, from iconic historic buildings to modern, award-winning laboratories and teaching spaces, on one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

  • Otago's Central Library is recognised as one of the best libraries in the world.
  • Award-winning Mellor ‘super labs'.
  • Award-winning, world-class dental school.
  • Award-winning Music, Theatre and Performing Arts Centre.
  • 12 Bloomberg Professional terminals at the Otago Business School.

Chat with Otago

Prospective students can chat online with Otago's current international students to learn more.

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Pathways to Otago

Pathways to Otago

Otago offers over 200 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Flexible courses allow students to choose elective courses to broaden the scope of their education and customise their learning experience. The Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom) allows 400 possible major combinations.

The university also has a range of taught and research postgraduate courses spanning four divisions – Health Sciences, Sciences, Humanities, and Otago School of Business.

''The master's showed me just how transferable my skills were in different jobs and that becoming a doctor wasn't the only pathway my Anatomy degree could take me down.''

- Ella Buchanan, Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Master of Entrepreneurship.

Foundation Studies Certificate

The 26-week Foundation Studies Certificate enables students to meet the entrance requirements for degree study, with four academic pathways: business/commerce, health science, arts/humanities and science. Successful completion guarantees entry to first-year degree study, and is recognised by all New Zealand universities as an entrance qualification.

English language

The University of Otago offers five levels of expert tuition in general English from elementary to advanced at its specialised English Language Centre.

''The University of Otago Pathway and English Language Centre was an integral factor for my transition to an unfamiliar environment as an international student. Not only did it fortify my understanding of the basic lessons and concepts before university, but also aided my growth and development to a more independent person.''

- Julian Suplig, former Pathway student, now studying Bachelor in Physiotherapy.

Summer School, Distance, and Online

Otago's Summer School runs from January to February and includes distance options for offshore students. A range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes can be taken remotely, and there are study abroad and exchange programmes available.

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Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Otago's entry requirements for international students include, evidence of a satisfactory level of English language proficiency must be provided. Students should include with their application a certified statement of results from an accepted English language test that has been taken within two years of the start of their proposed studies at Otago.

For undergraduate study, students will usually need the equivalent of IELTS 6.0 overall in the academic module, with no individual band below 5.5. Students also require an accredited university admission qualification, accompanied by a passing grade in a recognised English language assessment.

Otago provides generalised bachelor's degrees with limited capacity, and also specialised bachelors' degrees which typically have additional entry requirements.

For postgraduate study, students will usually need the equivalent of IELTS 6.5 overall in the academic module, with no individual band below 6.0. Some courses may have a higher English language requirement and students are advised to check with the international office.

The entry requirements for students who wish to pursue postgraduate study differs by programme, with courses requiring a qualification at a bachelor's degree level in the same area of study, and programmes having further requirements, like relevant work experience.

Some master's degrees require students to complete a postgraduate diploma, then proceed to their second year of study. If students are interested in studying a new subject at postgraduate level, the university has a diploma for graduates, which can act as a bridge to postgraduate study.

PhD level study usually requires a master's degree or good honour's degree in a subject which is relevant to the intended programme of research.

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Scholarships & funding

Scholarships & funding

Otago offers scholarships at all levels of study: pathway, undergraduate, and postgraduate. It also offers a wide range of scholarships for students from specific countries, enrolling in specific programmes or at a specific level of study.

Otago International Pathway Scholarship

The International Pathway Scholarship awards tuition fee contributions valued at NZD 3,000 to all students starting the Foundation Studies Certificate. The award supports hard working and motivated students in their preparation for degree level study at the University of Otago.

Additional, competitive pathway scholarships from NZD 5,000 are also available by application.

2023 Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship for International Students

All eligible international students who are currently in New Zealand, or studying online from outside of New Zealand, and who are admitted to start full-time bachelor's studies in 2022 (starting either semester 1 or semester 2) for the first time at a New Zealand university, will be awarded a Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship for International Students valued at NZD 10,000.

Master's and doctoral scholarships

Otago provides a range of generous master's awards as well as doctoral scholarships (for levels of study such as PhD and other doctoral levels of study). These awards are granted with recommendation from each department based on academic achievement and research ability.

Prospective applicants can visit the University of Otago's international scholarships page for the full listing of scholarships.

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Graduate outcomes

Graduate outcomes

Ninety-five per cent of Otago graduates progress directly into employment or further studies, joining the university's global alumni network, spanning over 140 countries. Otago graduates are in demand by employers and researchers, known for their negotiating and interpersonal skills, analytical and conceptual skills, and independent judgement.

The Otago Business School is an Asia-Pacific leader in education and holds EQUIS and AACSB accreditation, ensuring its qualifications are globally portable and internationally recognised.

Humanities graduates benefit from Otago's flexible degree structure, including combined degree programmes, which equip students with critical skills for a changing world and a global workforce.

Health science graduates from the University of Otago are well respected throughout the world for their skills, and their clinical and research excellence. All health science programmes at the university include substantial clinical or laboratory-based learning, providing students with the experience, skills and knowledge necessary to prepare them for a rewarding and successful global career.

The Career Development Centre's new employability award programme, OtagoExtra equips students with skills required for life after graduation. For two consecutive years, the centre has been voted the best among New Zealand's universities by the New Zealand Association for Graduate Employers (NZAGE).

In her last year of undergraduate study in Applied Science, Bhaveet Chahal, now the co-founder of GoSkills, an award-winning online learning platform, entered Kickstart, an Otago student business competition.

''I was a winner in the first round and a finalist in the competition's second round. This opened up my eyes to a totally different world ... I then completed a Master of Entrepreneurship to learn practical skills to start and grow a business. This degree was right up my alley, I learned the fundamentals of business and felt prepared to one day start my own company.''

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International students

Average cost of living in Newzealand

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201st  / 1250

THE World ranking

Welcome to Otago
Foundation lab class
Otago Business School
At University of Otago
University of Otago
One of the most beautiful campuses in the world
At Otago
Ranked 151st in QS World Rankings
New Zealand’s only Dental school
World-class facilities
Dunedin is New Zealand’s student capital
At University of Otago
15 residential colleges

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What our students think about us

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The University of Otago
One of the beautiful campuses in the world and everything is very much accessible
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World ranking
The University of Otago The University of Otago
Rated4/5based on1 student reviews
One of the beautiful campuses in the world and everything is very much accessible Customer reviews:
The University of Otago - by, 2020-01-07
4.0/ 5 stars

To find out more about the information shown here – read about How we collect and display course information. IDP assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site. We always recommend that you speak to an IDP counsellor to get the latest and most accurate advice.

The University of Otago The University of Otago
Rated4/5based on1 student reviews
One of the beautiful campuses in the world and everything is very much accessible Customer reviews:
The University of Otago - by, 2020-01-07
4.0/ 5 stars

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