The selection process for a New Zealand Scholarship can take between six and 10 months from when applications close to finding out if you are a ‘preferred candidate’.

Becoming a preferred candidate means you have been chosen to receive a scholarship so long as you meet other criteria, such as being accepted by a university or institution.

We assess scholarships by ‘country intake’ or ‘region intake’. The timeframes are different for applicants from different countries. This is because countries or regions with fewer applications can move faster through the selection process than those with many applications.

All our communication is by email, so if you are applying for a scholarship, check your email regularly for any correspondence from us. Also, update your email contact details if they change (see advice in Application guidance).

These selection process timeframes are a guide only.

New Zealand Scholarships approximate 2017 timeline


What happens

March 2017


Applications close for Group One and Group Two countries. (See Application dates for more information.)

March/April 2017

Initial screening of applications against eligibility criteria, selection preferences and priority sectors.

This produces our ‘long list’ of applicants, meaning those who will go onto the next stage. An email is sent to all applicants to tell them if they are on the long list, or if their application has been declined and they are no longer being considered for a New Zealand Scholarship.

April/May 2017

Assessments of long-listed applications. An independent panel of assessors (people who are not part of MFAT) read all the long-listed applications and score them. The panel members then discuss the applications with each other (called ‘moderating’) and a ‘short list’ of applicants is agreed.

An email is sent to long-listed applicants to tell them if they are on the short list and will go onto the next stage, or if their application has been declined.

Note: Applicants from areas where lots of people apply (high-volume intakes), such as Africa, will do their online psychometric testing (see below) before the assessments stage.

Late April/May/June 2017

Online psychometric testing of short-listed applicants takes place. This includes:

  •          an abstract reasoning test
  •          a personality test.

A personalised link to the online test is sent to applicants. As there’s only a two-week window to finish this test applicants must remember to check email regularly. If the two-week period is missed, their application is automatically declined.

An email is sent to short-listed applicants to tell them if they have moved onto the next stage, or if their application is declined.

May/June/July 2017

Interviews are held by a two-person panel (usually one MFAT representative and one other). Interviews are conducted face-to-face at the applicant’s local New Zealand Embassy or High Commission, or via video-conference if they can’t be there.

An email is sent to interviewees to tell them if they have moved onto the next stage, or if their application is declined.

June/July/August 2017

IELTS testing/IELTS results are requested as proof of an applicant’s English language abilities, if not already given to us. These might include, for example, IELTS or TOEFL results. If the applicant doesn’t have this information, they must organise and sit an IELTS test and give us the results.

We will organise the IELTS testing for candidates from all Pacific countries, Timor Leste and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Note: Applicants from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia must prove their English language abilities before the interview stage.

July/August/September 2017

Final shortlist. This is when applicants who are still in the selection process learn if they are a:

A)   Preferred candidate, which means they are our first choice to become a New Zealand Scholarship recipient. While congratulations are definitely in order, preferred candidates still must get accepted by the university/institution they want to go to.

B)   Reserve candidate, which means they are on standby in case one of the preferred candidates doesn’t get accepted into their study programme. Reserve candidates will be on stand-by for up to two months.

C)   Declined candidate, which means unfortunately they have not been selected this year.

August/Sep/Oct 2017

Placements of preferred candidates. We allow about two months for candidates to find places to study.

We start the process by contacting the university or institution the candidate would like to go to. After that the candidate must go through the institution’s application process so they can be considered for entry.

Sep/Oct/Nov 2017

Letter of offer. Once a preferred candidate has been offered a place at a university or institution, MFAT will review the offer and send the candidate a New Zealand Scholarship letter of offer. They must sign this to accept the New Zealand Scholarship.

There may still be conditions the candidate must meet before the scholarship offer is final. This could be visa requirements, or any requirements or conditions the institution has put in place before the candidate can be fully accepted into the study programme.

Preferred candidates should begin all visa applications as soon as they receive their letter of offer because visa processing can take some time.

January 2018

With the New Zealand Scholarship finalised, the New Zealand Embassy or High Commission in the scholar’s country delivers pre-departure briefings.

February/March 2018

Semester 1 begins at most New Zealand institutions. Scholars should arrive well before this time so they can fully settle into New Zealand before study begins.