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 providing you meet other requirements. Importantly, these other requirements include:

  • being accepted by a university or institution, and
  • securing a visa for New Zealand (or your chosen Pacific Island country if on a Regional Development Scholarship).

We assess scholarship applications 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, if your email address changes make sure you update your email contact details via the application portal (external link) (see advice in Application guidance).

The below selection process timeframes are a guide only.

Timeline for 2018 (approximate)


What happens

March 2018


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

March/April 2018

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 2018

Assessments of long-listed applications. Each application is closely read and evaluated. After this, we look at all the scores and considering our selection criteria and preference factors, we produce another list of applicants to go on to the next stage.

An email is sent to long-listed applicants to tell them if they 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 2018

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 2018

Interviews: candidates will be interviewed by a two-person panel (usually one MFAT representative and one other). Interviews are conducted either face-to-face at the applicant’s local New Zealand Embassy or High Commission, or via video-conference.

For more information about the interview and how to prepare for it see:

After the interview scores and comments have been agreed, MFAT looks again at overall scores, considering our criteria and selection preferences. 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 2018

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.

For most applicants from around the world, supplying IELTS/TOEFL test results is your responsibility. You must organise to sit the test and provide us with your results. If you have sat the test within the last two years, you can provide us with your scores from your most recent test.

For more information, see English Language Testing.

If you are an applicant from a Pacific Island country, Timor Leste and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia, we will organise the IELTS testing for you. For more information see: 

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


July/August/September 2018

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 2018

Placements of preferred candidates. We allow about two to three months for candidates to be accepted at a university or institution.

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.

Getting accepted into an institution or university can take up to two months for an undergraduate place, or three months for post-graduate.

The institution or university will most likely contact candidates directly about:

  • applying via its online application process
  • providing certified documents, such as copies of their passport, birth certificate or other identification, academic transcripts
  • IELTS or TOEFL test results.

Gathering these documents can take time, so it’s wise to have them organised early.

Note: Scholarships can be given to the reserved candidate if preferred candidate don’t respond, or respond too slowly. Therefore, reserved candidates should also keep checking their email. 

Sep/Oct/Nov 2018

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. The candidate 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. Check the Immigration New Zealand website (external link) for further information. 

Who to contact? Once scholars have their Letter of Offer they should send all questions and queries to the International Students Office at the university or institution. That office can answer questions about travel, accomomdation, course enquiries, any allowances or payments, etc.

January 2019

Pre-departure briefings. With the New Zealand Scholarship finalised, the New Zealand Embassy or High Commission in the scholar’s country delivers pre-departure briefings. If briefings aren't possible scholars should download the interactive file of the pre-departure briefing here [PDF, 16 MB].

February/March 2019

Semester 1 begins at most New Zealand institutions. International Student Offices will organise for scholars to arrive before courses start so they can go through orientation, and fully settle into New Zealand before study begins.