Make the connection
Explore the connections between living things and their environment with the Master of Science (Ecology).
- Postgraduate, NZQF Level 9
- 1.5 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
- Available for international students studying in NZ
- Not all listed subject course options are on offer every year.
Massey University has a large teaching and support staff in ecology and related disciplines, with diverse expertise. As a postgraduate student undertaking master’s studies you will have the opportunity to specialise in stimulating subjects ranging from:
- biodiversity and biogeography
- community ecology
- behavioural ecology
- lake and river management
- plant ecology
- modelling animal populations
- soil communities and ecosystem function
The Ecology Group at Massey has a large teaching and support staff, with diverse expertise.
You will benefit from Massey’s strong collaborative links with:
- New Zealand’s Department of Conservation
- Landcare Research
- Fish & Game NZ
- regional, district and city councils
- private sector environmental consulting firms.
Facilities and equipment
The ecology complex at Massey has an excellent range of facilities and equipment including controlled temperature and light rooms, glasshouses and a workshop for making field equipment. There are labs for microscopy and image analysis, chemical analysis, ancient DNA, freshwater fish and invertebrates, insects and plant ecology, animal behaviour and soil invertebrate extraction.
Careers and further study
A postgraduate qualification in ecology will allow you to approach many environmental research and management issues from a strong theoretical and practical base. Massey ecology graduates may find employment with the Department of Conservation, regional councils, government research institutes and environmental consultants. Our postgraduate degrees are well regarded internationally so you may continue your studies overseas at a PhD level.
Others have added another specialisation to become an ecotoxicologist, environmental economist, or even an environmental lawyer.
Sought-after by employers
International trends are for employers to reward postgraduate study well, especially in larger enterprises. The skills you learn are increasingly recognised as setting you apart from other potential employees.
A 2017 Ministry of Education publication, The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand:
- young master’s graduates earn more than one and a half times more than the national median (five years after study)
- earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed
- five years after completion, the median earnings of young master’s graduates are 15% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree.
New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.
Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.
As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.
All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.
Master of Science 180 or 240 credits
To enter the Master of Science (180 or 240 credits) programme you will:
- have been awarded or qualified for a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in the intended postgraduate subject, or close equivalent, with a minimum B average in the majoring 300 level courses, or
- have been awarded or qualified for either the Bachelor of Science with Honours or the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology in the intended MSc subject, having achieved a B grade average over the contributing courses.
Master of Science 120 credits (thesis only)
To enter the 120 credit Master of Science programme you will have been awarded or qualified with a minimum B average for either of the following:
- a Bachelor of Science (Honours) with an endorsement in the same subject as that in which the thesis will be done, or
- a Postgraduate Diploma in Science with an endorsement in the same subject as that in which the thesis will be done
Documents you will need to supply to support your application
- verified copies of all academic transcripts for studies taken at all universities other than Massey University
- a short summary of your research interests (200 words or less). Required if you intend on a pathway which includes at least 90 credits of research.
English language requirements
To study this programme you must meet Massey University's English language standards.
Prior learning, credit and exemptions
For information on prior learning, exemptions and transfer of credit or other questions:
- review the Recognition of Prior Learning regulations
- contact us through the Enquire button on this page.
If you do not have the entry requirements
English language and foundation courses
If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, we have courses and programmes that may help.
Courses and planning
180 credits (most subjects)
- Part One compulsory and subject courses – 60‑90 credits
- Part Two thesis – 90‑120 credits
- A specialisation (subject) is compulsory.
These subjects require 240 credits:
- Nutrition and Dietetics (includes 150 credits of compulsory Part One courses)
- Psychology - Health Psychology
Advanced entry: Those who have already completed specified qualifications in advance of the minimum entry requirements may be able to complete this degree by undertaking a 120 credit thesis.
This is a parts-based qualification. This means there are regulations around your completion of Part One before progressing to Part Two, etc.
Courses for this specialisation
Part One (At least 60 credits from)
|At least 60 credits from|
700-level courses from the 120, 199, 232 prefixes
|196897||Thesis 120 Credit Part 1||60|
|196898||Thesis 120 Credit Part 2||60|
|At least 60 credits from|
|196871||Thesis 90 Credit Part 1||45|
|196872||Thesis 90 Credit Part 2||45|
Planning your programme
If you study full-time, you’ll take 120 credits per year or 60 credits per semester.
The Master of Science (Ecology) is a parts-based qualification. That means you must complete the first part, before moving to the second.
The first part gives you good knowledge and skills that will help you with the research part of your qualification. You must pass Part One before you can progress to Part Two.
For progression to Part Two of the Master of Science, a B grade average is needed for the Part One courses.
Maximum time limits for completion
There are maximum time limits to complete postgraduate qualifications. If you do not complete within the maximum time, you may be required to re-apply for the programme if you wish to continue your studies.
Time limits for Honours, Distinction and Merit
Where your qualification is completed within the stated time limit and to a high standard, you may be able to graduate with a class of Honours, Distinction or Merit.
- Look for information under ‘Student Progression’ in the General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas and Postgraduate Certificates.
- Contact us through the Enquire button on this page if you have any questions.
Fees and scholarships
Fees and finance
Fees, student loans and free fees scheme
Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.
There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.
Already know which courses you're going to choose?
If you already know which courses you are going to take, you can use our fees calculator to get an estimate of your fees.
Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme
You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.
The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.
Current and returning Massey students will find their National Student Number on their student homepage.
A good fit if you:
- are interested in the natural world
- enjoy sciences and analysing data
- want to have a positive impact on our world and environment.
Meet our lecturers
Professor Russell Death is a world leading freshwater ecologist. He is a senior figure in the field of river ecology, freshwater management and aquatic biodiversity. He uses a range of machine-learning approaches to combine experimental and observational studies into predictive models to assist resource management decisions.Professor Russell Death
Key information for students
Compare qualifications and academic information across different New Zealand institutions.
Review this important information before you apply for this programme. This gives you full details of the rules and regulations about what you need to study and what you must achieve in order to graduate with this qualification. That includes structure, courses and requirements. These regulations should be read in conjunction with all other Statutes and Regulations of the University including the below.
Applying and enrolling
Applying for the programme
Check you are ready
If you are ready to apply, have a look at our application checklist. It will help you get prepared with what you need. Please also check the entry requirements carefully before you apply.
Choose your programme and click on Apply now
You will apply for the programme using the Apply now button on this page. You’ll also choose your specialisation (major, subject or endorsement) if applicable.
Some programmes have additional requirements such as the submission of a portfolio or CV. Click on Apply now and you will be able to submit those documents as part of the application process.
Receive and accept an Admission Offer of Place
You will receive an Admission Offer of Place when you have been accepted into the programme. You need to accept this before you can enrol in your courses. International students also need to pay their fees at this point.
Enrolling in courses
You’ll then get access to your own student homepage (also known as the student portal). This is where you can enrol in courses. Any updates on your application or enrolments will also be on your student homepage. Make sure you check this regularly.
When you choose courses, ensure you check for any requirements that apply including:
- prerequisites (courses you have to do before the one you are enrolling in)
- corequisites (courses you have to do at the same time as the one you are enrolling in)
- restrictions (courses that you cannot enrol in if you are completing or have completed another identified similar course)
- location – for instance some distance-based courses still have an on-campus element, so double check that the way the course is taught is suitable for your situation.
Each of our courses has its own webpage where you can find this information. You can use our course search to find course pages.
More information on courses is in the ‘Courses for this programme’ section on this page.
You can find information on application due dates and semester dates on the key dates page.
We look forward to welcoming you to Massey!
If you have any questions, contact us through the Enquire button on this page.
What are courses and credits?
What are courses and credits?
Each Massey programme is made up of courses (in some tertiary institutions they are called ‘papers’).
You will have some compulsory courses and some you can choose from.
Each course is worth a certain amount of credits (often 15 credits, but this does vary). You must gain a set number of credits to be able to graduate from this programme.
There may also be some rules about which courses you need to pass to progress to the next year, or stage, of your study (known as progression). There are also courses you must pass to graduate with a specialisation.
- See the ‘Courses for this programme’ section for the list of courses.
- Courses search
Understanding course numbers
The first three digits of our course numbers show you which subject the course is about.
The second three digits show you the level and course ID number. For instance:
- sub-degree courses are '0' (i.e. xxx.0xx)
- undergraduate study begins at 100-level, (i.e. xxx.1xx)
- as you progress through 200- and 300-level courses this number changes to 2 and 3 respectively. The higher the number that starts the second three digits, the higher the level of study.
|Subject area||Level||Course ID number|
Workload and time management
Use this tool to help determine how much time you will need each week to complete your studies.
For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.
In some cases the programme or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these programmes go to the Massey University Calendar.
Please contact us through the Enquire button on this page if you have any questions.
Scholarships and awards
Scholarships related to this programme
- Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand Post Graduate Study Award
- Heseltine Ecology Bursary
- Joan Dingley Memorial Scholarship in Mycology
- Julie Alley Bursary
- Lovell and Berys Clark Scholarships
There are a number of scholarships available for new and current students. They could relate to your situation, achievement or interest.