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Studying an LLM (Master of Laws) in New Zealand

New ZealandNew Zealand, located in the South Pacific, offers captivating scenic beauty and diverse geological landscape.
Surrounded by the sea, it enjoys excellent climate with mild summers and cool winters. It is sparsely populated with a lush green and clean environment. Its topography and climate make it ideal for outdoor sports and activities for the adventurous souls throughout the year, be it football, rafting, hiking or water sports.

Cities such as Wellington and Auckland offer urban life with great universities, high quality of living and low crime rate, making them the ideal places to live and studying in as an LLM student. Wellington, as the capital city, is home to the Parliament, Government Ministries and Departments, banks, multinational corporations and law firms.

There are plenty of job and internship opportunities In New Zealand, as compared to the UK or USA where job markets are saturated as they are the typical areas targeted by most students. Therefore, studying in New Zealand offers a refreshing change at an affordable price and better job prospects.

Let's take a look at what is involved in studying an LLM in New Zealand.


Studying LLMs in New Zealand

Reasons to study your LLM in New Zealand

There are plenty of reasons to study your Master of Laws in New Zeland – hare are a few of them.

1. Excellent international reputation

New Zealand has an excellent international academic record with many of its law schools being ranked highly in international rankings. Six law schools in New Zealand future within the top 500 law schools globally, with the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago all placing within the top 100. By studying your LLM program in New Zealand you will be getting an excellent legal education from a Common Law country, and if you are planning to return home after your studies, this will be particularly useful if you’re from another Common Law country.

2. Attractive to international students

Many international students come to New Zealand to study from other Pacific nations as well as from Australia. Students from India and China particularly find New Zealand an attractive place to study, as do students from English speaking countries. As an international student, you will be in good company and find plenty of other international students to explore New Zealand with while you settle in.

Percentage of international students by home nation

The total number of international students in New Zealand in 2017 was 107,000 – here is a breakdown of where they came from.











United States









3. Welcoming culture

New Zealand has a famously welcoming and open culture. Invitations for BBQs or drinks after lectures will come thick and fast. Many people in New Zealand will have travelled, especially before and after university, so they are likely to be familiar with your home country. People in New Zealand enjoy sports, especially cricket and rugby, and most social occasions will be accompanied by drinking beers or enjoying the local wine, but if you don't drink, you shouldn't worry as there is no pressure to drink if you don't want to!

4. English language tuition

Being taught your LLM program in the English language is one of the major reasons New Zealand is so popular with many international students. Most of the Pacific Island nations will have English-speaking legal systems, as do countries like India, and this makes studying an LLM in New Zealand particularly popular. Chinese and other international students are attracted by the chance to become fluent in English and gain an internationally recognised qualification from an English-speaking institution.

5. Benefits of international study

When studying overseas, you will learn a great deal about yourself and the lifestyle you will want to have while you are working on your career. If you are a native English speaker, then you're not really going to get the chance to learn another international language, but you will learn how another culture functions and learn to question the customs of your own legal system.

6. Future global career

By mixing and meeting your fellow students in New Zealand and networking with professionals you meet and the academic staff of your law school, you will build an international network of colleagues and contacts. You will be able to use this to build a legal career with a global focus.

New Zealand's education system

New Zealand Victoria University Law SchoolThe education system in New Zealand is modeled on the UK system and offers globally recognised degrees. Universities are accredited for their high standards of education and have been receiving international students over the last 50-60 years. As a result, the universities foster multiculturalism and there are very good chances of meeting people from across the globe.

One of the most attractive thing about studying in New Zealand is that if offers the best of both worlds, ie standards of education and quality of life akin to USA, UK and Canada but at a much lower cost. Therefore, studying for the LLM in New Zealand may be an attractive option for those finding it difficult to fund their studies in USA and UK.    

Law schools in New Zealand

Law schools in New Zealand are well respected and a number of them are internationally renowned. International students, particularly those from the Pacific Islands and India, are attracted to study law in New Zealand because of similarities in language and legal systems, as well as the high standard of teaching. But how do you choose the best university for law in New Zealand.

Law school rankings – rankings are always a good way to start searching for the perfect law school for you, especially if you are unfamiliar with a country's law school system, but make sure you find out the methodology of the rankings.

New Zealand University


International Ranking

University of Auckland



Victoria University of Wellington



University of Otago



University of Canterbury



University of Waikato



Auckland University of Technology



Massey University




Recommendations – if you have already studied your undergraduate law degree in New Zealand, then speak with your current or former professors who will have knowledge about where the right place to continue your studies might be. Try and get an honest opinion about its suitability for you from someone who knows a little about you already.

Subjects and specialisms – research into the specialisms offered at the law school in New Zealand and review the academic staff at the law school you are considering to ensure they have experience in your interests and career aims. Contact the professors and tutors with specific questions if you have any.

Campus visit – if you are in New Zealand, a campus visit is the perfect way to find out what life as an LLM student would be like.

Online research and open days – if visiting the law schools in person isn’t a possibility, you can get plenty of information online on the law schools’ websites. Plus, look at any social media pages relating to the law course you're considering or the law school in general.

Life outside studies – what is life outside of studying like? Most law schools will be proud of their local legal links, and you can ask specific questions about areas of the law that you wish to work in to find out if you will easily gain the experience you need. Check the law school's student law society’s event pages to see if they hold the sorts of law clinics and other legal practice experiences that you require.

What university should you choose?

There are a few good universities for law in New Zealand to choose from. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, and the University of Auckland is home to the largest law faculty in New Zealand. Some of the courses offered in the LLM by coursework can be studied on an intensive basis, which involves attending a week of lectures taught by resident and visiting academic staff, and then completing a short dissertation. The Faculty of Law in Auckland is also home to the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law, and has a Master of Environmental Legal Studies among the other specialised LLMs on offer. The University of Auckland also has an agreement with the University of Melbourne in Australia, whereby students can take up to two courses towards their degree at the partner university. 

Victoria University of Wellington, situated in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, offers a one-year full-time LLM by coursework, dissertation and coursework or by thesis.

In the South Island, the University of Canterbury offers an LLM by research papers and by coursework, an LLM by thesis alone, and an LLM in International Law and Politics, jointly organised by the law school and the politics department.

The University of Otago in Dunedin offers an LLM by thesis only.

Entry requirements for studying an LLM in New Zealand

In order to gain admission into an LLM program, universities in New Zealand require students to have studied law as a bachelors degree and to have received good grades (preferably  2.1 or above). However, it is difficult to state exactly what the academic requirements are as they vary from university to university and it is essential students check the entry requirements of the particular university they are interested in attending.

For international students from a non-English speaking country, English Language proficiency must also be demonstrated at the time of admission and each application is considered on an individual basis.

The procedure of application requires completion of an online application form and submission of supporting documents such as academic transcripts and English Language test results. 

Tuition fees and living costs

The costs of studying for an LLM in New Zealand are lower than that incurred in the USA, UK and Canada. The tuition fee depends on the university and may vary, as well as living costs will vary from city to city and individual lifestyle. Generally, international fees for a New Zealand LLM sit at around the NZ$30,000–NZ$40,000 (around £15,000–£20,000).

In terms of living in New Zealand, there is range of accommodation options such as university dorms, student hostels, halls of residence and private apartments which may be self-catered, catered, shared or independent – and obviously living costs will vary depending on what accommodation is opted for. On average, the living expenses may be budgeted at NZ $10,000–$12,000 including accommodation, food, transport and living.

There are also possibilities of seeking scholarships. While these are generally highly competitive, an added advantage of opting for New Zealand is that there may be more chances of securing a scholarship as compared to the USA or UK.

Visa requirements for international students in New Zealand

International students are required to obtain a study visa to remain in New Zealand for the duration of their course. The New Zealand Immigration Service’s website provides extensive information on obtaining student visas, as well as applying for permanent residency should you wish to stay on. It is advised that students apply for the visa at least six to eight weeks in advance in order to ensure that it is obtained in time to take their place on the course. 

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