Planning your courses , Te whakarite i āu marau

Use this guide to figure out what you need to think about and do when planning your qualification.

A qualification is what you are studying towards overall (for example a degree, diploma or certificate). Courses are part of that qualification.

For example, the "Bachelor of Business" is a qualification, but "115111 Strategic Workplace Communication" is a course.

Learn more about qualification types and levels

Decide what you'll study

If you're still deciding what qualification you'd like to study, find a course or qualification.

If you're unsure about what qualification is best for you, our Academic Advisers and Student Recruitment Advisers can help.

Find an Academic Adviser
Contact our Student Recruitment Advisers

Understand your qualification structure

Once you've decided what to study, it's helpful to map out your courses early on. That way, you know you're on track to to do all the courses you need to eventually graduate.

Each qualification has its own structure that determines the order you need to complete your courses.

Majors, minors, endorsements and subjects

Some qualifications also have specialisations (majors, minors, subjects and endorsements) you'll need to include in your plan.


Your major is the main part of an undergraduate qualification. It includes compulsory courses you must take to be able to graduate. A major is generally one third of a bachelor's degree.

For example, someone studying towards a Bachelor of Business can choose a major in International Business. The major will be displayed on their graduation certificate as: Bachelor of Business with a major in International Business.

Double major

Some bachelor's degrees will let you study two majors at the same time. This option, and the courses you can choose from, will be outlined in the regulations for your qualification. Both majors will be displayed on your graduation certificate.


A minor is made up of fewer courses (and therefore credits) than your major in a degree.

For example, a Bachelor of Business student majoring in International Business may add a minor of Business Law. They will take fewer courses and credits in Business Law than in their major, International Business.

For some qualifications, adding a minor is compulsory. Some will also let you choose a minor from any other subject area, not just from within the qualification you're already studying.

When you successfully complete the courses you need for your minor, this will appear on your academic record. Unlike your major, your minor does not appear on your graduation certificate.

Adding a minor to a double major

If you are doing a double major, you may still be able to add a minor, depending on your qualification's specific requirements.

Find out what minor subjects we offer


An endorsement is a specialised subject area within your undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate diploma or certificate that you can choose to concentrate on.

Not all certificates and diplomas have endorsements. The endorsement usually makes up most of the courses in the qualification.

For example, a Postgraduate Diploma in Veterinary Science student may choose an endorsement in Veterinary Epidemiology. The endorsement will be displayed on their graduation certificate as: Postgraduate Diploma in Veterinary Science with honours in Veterinary Epidemiology.

Subjects within master's degrees

A subject is a specialisation within a master's degree. This is set out in the regulations of your chosen master's qualification.

For example, someone studying towards a Master of Arts can choose the subject Geography. This will be displayed on their graduation certificate as: Master of Arts in Geography.


Electives are courses you can take as part of your qualification, but which are not compulsory. Certain guidelines are usually provided on courses you may take, which are outlined in the course description.

You need to have completed a prerequisite course to take some elective courses. Elective courses contribute to the overall qualification, but not to your major or specialisation.

Choose the right course levels

When you select your courses, make sure they're the right level for your qualification, and in the right order. This order will be set out in the outline and regulations of your qualification.

In general, first-year undergraduate students study at 100-level, second-year students at 200-level and so on.

All qualifications list
University regulations for qualifications

How to identify a course level

Each course is numbered using six digits. The fourth number represents the level of the course.

For example, in course 219206 Communication and Technological Change, the fourth number is a 2, so it is a 200-level course.


Each course is worth a certain number of credits. For example, most undergraduate courses are worth 15 credits each, and most postgraduate courses are 30 credits.

You add these together to make up the total number of credits you need to complete your qualification. For example, most undergraduate degrees are made up of 360 credits, spread out over three years if you're studying full-time. Most certificates are 60 credits, spread out over six months if studying full-time.

Create a study plan

To create your study plan, you need to know:

  • the courses you must take to complete your qualification (these are known as core courses, or compulsory courses)
  • the courses you need for your major, minor, endorsement or subject
  • what courses are elective, meaning you can choose to follow your interests
  • if any of your courses need to be completed in a certain order.

You can find this information on qualification pages.

All qualifications list

Identify the order of your courses

Some courses need to be completed in a certain order to meet the requirements of your qualification. Check whether your qualification has any of these.


Some courses need to be completed before moving onto the next one. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.


These are courses that must be completed at the same time as another course.


Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Check timetable clashes for on-campus study

On-campus students need to make sure there aren't any timetable clashes when selecting courses. You'll be able to view timetable information when you enrol for courses in the student portal (login required).

If you are having trouble fitting in your courses and you need some help, contact our Academic Advisers.

Check what skills you need

Before you enrol into your courses, check you meet the entry requirements, which are outlined in the course description. These may include certain skills relevant to your course, or English language requirements.

Skills needed for study

Plan your workload

To make sure your workload is manageable and to keep a good balance between your study and personal life, we recommend you limit yourself to four courses per semester (60 credits) if studying full-time.

The maximum number of courses you can take each academic year is 12 (180 credits). You'll need permission from us to do this maximum workload.

Learn more about the maximum student workload

Studying by distance

If you're a distance student, you'll also need to consider other life commitments around your study when planning your courses.

When you plan your study, consider that:

  • a 15-credit single-semester course typically needs 10 to 12.5 hours of study each week
  • a 15-credit double-semester course typically takes about five to 6.5 hours of study each week.

Recognition of other qualifications and experience

You may be able to use credits or knowledge earned in previous study or experience towards your future study.

Credit may be awarded for:

  • completed tertiary qualifications
  • incomplete tertiary qualifications
  • informal learning (skills, knowledge and other attributes obtained through training, work experience or life experience).

Recognition of prior learning information

Calculate your costs

Knowing what tuition fees and other non-tuition costs you will face during the year is an important part of the planning process.

Fees and funding

International students

International students also need to allow for other costs, such as living costs, insurance and travel between New Zealand and their home countries.

Non-tuition fees

Planning for distance courses

If you are studying by distance you may have specific requirements to plan for as part of your courses. These include attending contact workshops in person, which may involve travel time and accommodation costs.

More about contact workshops

Distance study

Decide when you'll study

When you choose your courses, you'll need to think about which semester you want to study in.


The academic year is made up of two semesters followed by Summer School. Semesters One and Two each have 12 teaching weeks and an exam/assessment period at the end.

Double Semester courses usually run over Semester One and Two, with just one exam/assessment period at the end. Summer School runs from November to February, and also includes an exam period.

A winter break of three weeks is normally scheduled between the Semester One examination period and the start of Semester Two. Both semesters also have a mid-semester study break.

Some courses do not share the same start and end dates as Semester One and Two. This will be set out in your qualification regulations.

Understand key dates

You'll need to enrol for your courses by a certain date before the start of the next semester, to make sure you don't miss out on a place.

It's also important to note semester and exam period dates to plan your workload around.

View key dates
Changing or withdrawing from study

Where to get help

Academic Advisers are the people who can give more in-depth advice about course selection to help you plan your qualification.

Meet an Academic Adviser to help select and plan your study

Related content

Waiting lists & special permission to enrol in courses

What to do if the course you want to study is full and how and when to apply for a special permission to enrol in a course.

Changing or withdrawing from study

Find out how to make changes in your study including adding and withdrawing from courses and qualifications.

Find qualifications, courses & subjects

Discover what you can study with Massey – whether you’re joining us as a first-time student, returning to study or changing direction.