Studying Social Work in New Zealand

Introduction to studying a social work degree

Social work is a practice-based profession that helps people, communities, and organisations to overcome personal, economic and social challenges. Social workers help relieve people’s suffering, fight for justice, and improve the lives of communities. The social work courses in New Zealand are an excellent opportunity for students who can identify and understand another person’s emotions and are willing to do good for society. New Zealand universities offer subjects at different degree levels, such as undergraduate and postgraduate. 

The scope of social workers is rapidly growing, increasing the demand for graduates. During the course, you develop various skills like communication, time management, cultural competence, and critical thinking. After pursuing a social work degree, you can get opportunities in many fields, such as educational institutions, government agencies, and community organisations, with an average pay of $80,000 annually. 

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Types of Social Work Degrees in New Zealand

Many New Zealand universities offer social work courses at different degree levels. During the course, you will learn about various subjects, such as civil rights, human behaviour, active listening, and mental health.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

This program will equip you with knowledge and skills to help you impact society by practising as a social worker. The undergraduate degree is taught in four parts: foundation, framework, roof, and house, each focusing on different aspects of social work and policy. The course curriculum focuses on social work, which includes the principles of social justice, human rights, and social welfare. After completing the degree, you can pursue careers in mental health and addiction, community development, educational systems, and legal fields. 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Master in Social Work is a postgraduate course that provides an advanced approach and interventions in social work practice. You will learn and develop knowledge, skills, and experience in undertaking social work research to enhance your practice. The course combines core and elective courses, such as professional supervision, counselling, social work health practice, and education professional studies. 

In addition, practice-based social work research is conducted through assessments, programme development, implementation assessment, and program evaluation. After completing the course, you can pursue jobs as a social worker, industrial relations officer, youth worker, and social researcher. 

Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work (PGDipSW)

This course is equivalent to a first-year Master’s degree in professional learning and development and prepares you for advanced professional responsibility in social work. The course curriculum covers topics and subjects related to human development, mental health, social policy, and social justice. 

During the coursework, you will learn to apply theories and concepts to real-world situations and develop the skills to work with individuals, families, and communities. After graduation, you can work as a social worker in a different setting or take up leadership and management positions in social work. 


Many New Zealand universities offer scholarships and financial support to students based on different factors, such as academic performance and finance.

Scholarship name

Offered by

Award value

Tongarewa Scholarship

Victoria University of Wellington


The University of Auckland International Student Excellence Scholarship

University of Auckland


University of Otago International Master’s Research Scholarship

University of Otago


Jobs and Careers

Social workers are in high demand, especially in New Zealand. They provide care, advice, and support to people with personal and social problems and help community organisations. Social work graduates gain essential skills such as empathy, patience, and strong communication. There is a diverse array of work opportunities where social workers practice and share a commitment to promoting social welfare, helping people with day-to-day challenges, advocate social and economic justice for members of diverse communities. 

Some popular social work jobs include child and family case workers, clinical social workers, medical workers, health educators, community organisers, and social work researchers. 


The demand for trained and experienced social workers is increasing rapidly in New Zealand. The New Zealand government is actively encouraging skilled social workers from overseas to work in New Zealand. According to the stats, the average annual salary of a social worker ranges between $72,512 and $80,000, depending on skills, educational qualifications, and experience. Entry-level positions with one to three years of experience make around $70,001 annually, while the most experienced employees make up to $84,252 annually. 

Top Universities for Social Work in New Zealand

To learn more about the best social work courses in New Zealand, find details on the top-ranking social work universities in the EduRank 2024 ranking below:



Acceptance rate


University of Auckland



Massey University



University of Otago



University of Canterbury



Victoria University of Wellington



University of Waikato



Auckland University of Technology


Study Social Work in New Zealand

If you want to learn more about studying for a social work degree at a New Zealand university, arrange a free consultation with SI-New Zealand today.

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What are the career prospects for social workers in New Zealand?

The career prospects for social workers in New Zealand are open to many opportunities and challenges. Social work graduates can enter various fields of social work, such as schools, hospitals, community groups, and government organisations. 

Can international students work while studying social work in New Zealand?

Yes, New Zealand allows international students to work up to 20 hours a week while doing a full-time course in New Zealand. You are eligible for a Post-Study Work Visa for up to three years. 

What's the cost of tuition for social work courses in New Zealand?

The tuition fee for social work courses in New Zealand varies depending on the degree you are applying for. For example, a bachelor’s degree costs around $37,085 per semester, and a master’s degree costs around $$30,900 per semester. 

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