New Zealand is one of the safest countries to live in. In addition, its magnificent natural landscape and seascape also add to the country’s appeal. Its proximity to many East and Southeast Asian countries is also an advantage, making it an ideal academic destination for Asian students.

Global university rankings highly rate many Arts and Humanities programs in New Zealand. Most undergraduate programs are also designed to prepare students for continuing education through postgraduate programs. However, those who want to gain employment soon after graduation are also guaranteed good career prospects locally and internationally.

As fees in New Zealand may be costly for international students, especially those from developing countries in Southeast Asia, the government offers country-specific scholarships for tertiary education to eligible applicants.

In this guide, we talk about some of the best humanities universities in New Zealand.

Top Schools Offering Humanities Programs in New Zealand

1. University of Auckland

The University of Auckland initially opened as the Auckland University College in 1883 and has since expanded to become the largest and top academic institution in New Zealand. It currently ranks among the top 100 universities worldwide. In addition, it gained global recognition in five of its Arts and Humanities subjects, including Anthropology, Archaeology, English Language & Literature, Geography, and Performing Arts.

The Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Auckland offers a double major degree where students can select two majors and one minor from a long list of Humanities subjects. Students of this excellent humanities school in New Zealand may also blend advanced science and humanities courses through a five-year Conjoint Program that can provide a solid background to continue and conduct research through a postgraduate program.

The postgraduate programs include a research or taught Master of Arts degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree. The University of Auckland’s postgraduate research programs is globally renowned, making it easier for degree holders to enter the international labor market.

2. University of Canterbury

Canterbury College is recognized as one of the best humanities universities in New Zealand. It opened in 1873 and later became the University of Canterbury (UC) in 1957. Almost 150 years of growth and expansion have now led the university to offer over 120 degrees divided into five colleges: Arts, Business & Law, Engineering, Science, and Education & Health & Human Development. In addition, its long history yielded several reputable alumni who made their names in various industries, such as politics, entertainment, education, research, business, and more.

UC’s School of Humanities offers numerous undergraduate, diploma, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs under ten areas of study: Art History & Theory, Cinema Studies, Classics, Cultural Studies, Digital Humanities, English, Fine Arts, History, Music, and Philosophy.

Students can do internships at relevant local or international industries or spend a semester abroad. Overall, UC’s College of Arts programs provide education and training that equip students with knowledge and skills to tackle various career challenges in the ever-dynamic modern world.

3. Auckland University of Technology

Auckland Technical School, the predecessor of the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), opened in 1895. After over a hundred years of transition, AUT finally gained university status in 2000. It is now among the top three most outstanding universities in New Zealand and ranks high in global university rankings.

AUT’s Art and Humanities subjects currently rank among the top 201-250 worldwide. Because of this, prospective students may develop an interest in the university’s excellent undergraduate and postgraduate degrees under courses, such as Language & Culture, Social Sciences & Public Policy, and Art & Design.

Research opportunities at AUT are also among the best in the world, with the university’s modern and state-of-the-art facilities and globally competent teaching and research staff. However, it is important to note that AUT’s academic excellence comes at different prices for domestic and international students as tuition fee rates vary greatly based on nationalities. Fortunately, the university offers numerous scholarship opportunities for international students.

4. Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria College, named after Queen Victoria and currently known as Victoria University of Wellington, opened in 1897. At present, its Arts, Humanities, and Social Science programs are considered the best in New Zealand based on world university rankings. Overall, the university also ranks high globally, attracting over 3,500 international students that comprise over 15% of its student population.

The university’s three-year Bachelor of Arts program gives students the flexibility to decide how they complete their degree: double major, second major from another degree, minor, or conjoint degree. Students may select up to three out of the 41 majors available in their first year to explore and gauge their interests. They can then focus on one or two subjects as they progress through the program.

Upon graduation, graduates already possess the necessary qualifications to get a good job relevant to their major. However, they may also proceed to a Master’s program where they can specialize, conduct research, and become an expert in one subject. Regardless of the major one selects among the list, there will always be a prospective career waiting for them in New Zealand or abroad.

5. Massey University

Massey University officially became a university in 1964, but its conception as a higher education institution for agriculture began in 1879. From its humble beginnings, the university has risen to become part of the top 3% universities worldwide. This achievement is due to the university’s international outlook, world-class facilities, globally competent educators, and outstanding degree programs.

Among the best humanities universities in New Zealand, its Bachelor of Arts program allows students to study what they are passionate about while preparing them for the employment demands of the rapidly changing world. The three-year program awards 360 credits divided into core courses, major, minor, and electives. Students are free to tailor their major and minor subjects based on their interests.

Students at Massey University may select between the coursework or research pathway for their Master’s degree. Either track grants 180 credits that students can earn in 1.5 years. They may also choose among 15 Humanities subjects for their specialization.


Hopefully, this guide to the best universities to study humanities in New Zealand was informative and helpful. If you are interested in knowing more, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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