6. How we select scholars
Selecting New Zealand Scholars can take six to ten months from the time scholarship applications close. Applicants must check their email frequently for progress updates.
This page describes the selection process and gives indicative timeframes. How long the selection process takes, depends on the number of applicants we get for each country.
Applicants must check their email frequently for progress updates during the selection process.
- We screen applicants: We assess applicants against our eligibility criteria and our selection guidelines. We compare the preferred courses of each applicant with our recommended study subjects. This initial screening process takes place typically in March-April.
- We advise you of our decision: We email applicants to advise them if they will continue to the next selection stage or if we have eliminated their application. This takes place typically in April.
Note for PhD applicants: We recommend you start contacting suitable PhD supervisors, if you have not already done this. Scholarship applicants may apply to undertake doctoral studies in any of the identified sectors. They must, however, be able to show that there are employment opportunities on their return that require them to undertake unsupervised post-doctoral research, or to teach at degree level. They must also be able to show how their proposed research proposal will benefit the country, and that they have approached the university to identify appropriate supervisors.
- We assess applications in more detail: We carry out a detailed assessment of the applications against our selection guidelines. Then we create a short list of applicants. This takes place typically in April-May.
- We advise you of our decision: We email applicants to advise them if they are on the short list or if we have eliminated their application. This takes place typically in May.
- You do psychological testing: We email applicants on the short list. The email contains links to two psychometric tests: an abstract reasoning test and a personality test. Applicants must do these tests within two weeks of getting the email. If you have not received the email or have been informed of your decline by the end of the first two weeks of April, you MUST email us. This psychological testing takes place typically in April-June.
Note: Countries with a lot of applicants may need to take these psychometric tests before we make a short list of applicants.
- We advise you of our decision: We email applicants to advise them if they will continue to the interview stage or if we have eliminated their application.
- Four countries have English tests: We organise and pay for applicants from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Timor-Leste to sit the English competency test in their own country. Only applicants, who pass the IELTS test, will continue to the interview stage.
- We interview applicants: Two of our representatives interview each applicant at the New Zealand Embassy or New Zealand High Commission in that applicant’s own country. In some cases, we interview applicants by phone or online video conference (i.e. Skype). Interviews take place typically in May-July.
How to prepare for your scholarship interview
Note for PhD applicants: At the interview, you must bring emails that prove you have a PhD supervisor or you are close to confirming a PhD supervisor.
We advise you of our decision: We email applicants to advise them if they will continue to the next stage or if we have eliminated their application.
- You prove your English competency: All other applicants must provide current IELTS or TOEFL test scores at this stage. If an applicant has not passed a IELTS or TOEFL test to the required level within the last 12 months, they must sit a IELTS or TOEFL test at their own cost. This takes place typically in June-August.
Exception for Indonesia and most Pacific countries: For Indonesia and for most Pacific countries, we pay for IELTS testing
- We advise you of our decision: We email applicants to advise them if they are a preferred candidate, or a candidate on the reserve list, or if we have eliminated their application.
- Preferred candidates apply for admission to their preferred courses and apply for a student visa
We use these guidelines to select applicants with very good character, ethics and abilities.
In general, we want scholars with these attributes:
- They have a strong academic ability.
- They show commitment to the social and economic development of their country.
- They are 39 years or younger when the scholarship starts.
- They choose courses that align with our recommended subjects.
- They want to encourage positive relations with New Zealand now and in the future.
We also aim for a balanced mix of women and men scholars.
We select people with the following characteristics
Successful applicants must have a good education
Successful applicants must have high grades. They must have the right qualifications for entry into their preferred courses.
Successful applicants must study in a similar field they have already worked in
Successful applicants must have relevant work experience for their proposed field of study. (School leavers and first year undergraduate students do not need work experience.)
Successful applicants must want to study in a new country
Scholars will find cultural differences when they study abroad. Scholars must have life skills to support themselves away from home. We select applicants who are willing to study in a different country, and leave their family and their community.
Successful applicants choose courses that can help solve their country’s social and economic problems
We prefer applicants who choose to study one of our recommended subjects. We recommend subjects that can reduce social and economic development problems in each eligible country.
Scholars must use their skills to improve their country
Successful applicants must show motivation and commitment to share their skills and knowledge when they return home. After they finish their scholarship, scholars must return home and contribute to their own country’s social and economic development for two years.
Successful applicants must communicate well
We look for applicants who can communicate clearly, listen effectively, and answer questions appropriately.
Successful applicants are agile learners
Successful applicants have strong intellectual and reasoning skills. They can adapt to life away from their home. They have the skills to create a successful career.
Successful applicants manage relationships well
Successful applicants can create effective relationships with other students, academic staff and citizens in their own country.
Successful applicants have integrity
A person with integrity is honest and consistently makes ethical decisions. We want applicants who uphold good ethics and expect other people to do the same.
Successful applicants have good judgement
Successful applicants can assess a situation sensibly. They can make reasonable decisions.
Successful applicants are resilient
We look for applicants who can handle stress well. We look for applicants who can endure or recover quickly from difficult life events when their family is not in the same country.
Successful applicants can motivate themselves
We look for applicants who show ambition, a desire to achieve their goals and responsibility for getting things done. Scholars need a long-term vision for their study and career goals.
The New Zealand Scholarship process is very competitive. Every year we grant 560 full scholarships in total. Every year we receive over 11,000 applications.
Because we get a large number of applications, we can’t tell each applicant the specific reasons why they were unsuccessful. Please do NOT email us to ask why you were unsuccessful. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough human resources to answer these types of emails.
We know that the application process requires a lot of hard work. We thank all applicants for their interest in a New Zealand Scholarship.
You may have submitted a very good application. We may have to decline good applications, simply because other applicants submit better applications.
If you are unsuccessful, you may apply for a New Zealand Scholarship again next year.
Important: In the event we receive an overly large number of applications from one or more eligible countries, we reserve the right to use some form of random selection to manage application numbers from the relevant eligible country or countries.
Here are the most common reasons why we decline international scholarship applications.
All applicants must meet our eligibility criteria
We decline all applicants who do not meet all the eligibility criteria.
Other applicants demonstrated their attributes more clearly
Other applicants demonstrated more clearly the characteristics that scholars need.
Other applicants demonstrated a stronger education and job history
- Other applicants had higher academic grades.
- The qualifications and job history of other applicants were better aligned with their preferred courses.
Other applicants chose their preferred courses more carefully
- Other applicants researched their preferred institution and courses more carefully.
- Other applicants gave stronger reasons for choosing their preferred courses.
- Other applicants wrote a stronger research proposal on their application form (Master’s by Thesis and PhD applicants only).
- You did not have the qualifications required for entry to your preferred courses.
- Your preferred courses do not progress on from your previous qualifications (for example, you already have a Masters and you want to apply for another Masters).
Other applicants chose to study skills that better match their country's development needs
- The preferred courses of other applicants aligned more closely with one of our recommended study subjects.
- Other applicants demonstrated a higher motivation to return home to improve their country.
- Other applicants more clearly described how their preferred courses would improve their country’s social and economic development.
- Other applicants more clearly described the skills and knowledge they would gain from their preferred courses.
- Other applicants more clearly described how these skills and knowledge are important to their country.
- Other applicants more clearly described why their country needs these skills and knowledge.
- Other applicants more clearly described how they would use these skills in their own country after their scholarship.
- Other applicants more clearly described which people in their local community would benefit from these skills and knowledge.
Other applicants demonstrated their personal skills more clearly
- Other applicants wrote a stronger answer for the relationship skills question on their application form.
- Other applicants wrote a stronger answer for the problem-solving question on their application form.
- Other applicants wrote a stronger answer for the goal-setting question on their application form.
- Other applicants demonstrated stronger communication skills.
- Other applicants demonstrated integrity and ethics in a clearer way.
- Other applicants demonstrated decision making skills more clearly.
- Other applicants demonstrated stress management skills more clearly.
- Other applicants demonstrated more clearly that they were willing to move to a new country.
- Other applicants showed more clearly that they could adapt to a new culture and challenge.
- Your psychological abstract reasoning test scores were low.