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University of Otago
Dunedin, New Zealand (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Academic Year,
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Request Advising
Budget Sheets Academic Year,
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Dates / Deadlines:
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Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2021 09/07/2020 10/30/2020 TBA TBA
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Language of Instruction: English Minimum GPA: 3.0
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Housing Options:
Apartment Academic Area of Study: Anthropology, Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Science, Economics, Education, English, Environmental Science, Geology, History, International Business and Management, International Studies, Law and Policy, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, Policy Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology
Program Description:
Program Description:

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Students on the New Zealand program attend the University of Otago (UO), the first university established in New Zealand in 1869. UO is New Zealand's top ranked research institution and has an international reputation for excellence, with a strong support system for students. 

The city of Dunedin is the second largest city on the South Island of New Zealand. The climate is temperate, with mild summers and cool winters. Dunedin has an estimated population of 127,500 with students making up a large percentage of that population. The city is considered to be one of the four main cities in New Zealand for historic, cultural and geographic reasons. 


The expectations to apply for this program are as follows:

  • 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Open to all majors. Students majoring in biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, earth sciences, mathematics, physics and psychology are encouraged to apply.
  • All students must have a declared major at the time of application.

As a part of the review process students’ conduct records and account status are also reviewed.  Students and their parents should note that the review process takes all elements of the student’s academic record into consideration and that even if a student has the expected GPA and language pre-requisites, he or she may not be admitted.

Students who have questions about the review process or their particular candidacy for a program should come into the Center for Global Study and Engagement for advising.

CGSE staff will not discuss students’ applications with parents, friends or any other party without the student’s consent and presence in the conversation.

University of Otago

The University of Otago is New Zealand's oldest university and is located in Dunedin, on the South Island of New Zealand. UO has an estimated student enrollment of 21,000 students and has recently been awarded the top research university in the country. UO has four main university divisions in which students will take courses: Division of Humanities, Division of Health Sciences, Division of Sciences, and School of Business. 


How is instruction different?

There are fewer assessments/assignments, more emphasis on independent work, and courses in New Zealand tend to be difficult. The average class size is also much larger than you may be used to with many lectures containing around 100 or more students. 

What classes are available?

Classes, or "papers" as they are called in New Zealand, are grouped in levels, and levels 100-300 are undergraduate. In a general sense, 100-level papers are suited to 1st year students, 200-level papers are suited to 2nd year students, and so on. It is possible, however, to apply for approval to take papers that are above your 'normal' level, if you feel you have the required academic background. Papers numbered 200-300 normally require the fulfillment of academic prerequisites at Dickinson.  Papers numbered above 300 level are postgraduate papers. You will need to have an advanced background to be accepted for these papers.  If the papers you are considering have prerequisites, you will need to seek pre-approval to take them.  You may not enroll in courses that are "full year" courses if you are only studying at Otago for one semester.

As a general indicator for prerequisites -  if it’s a 200, 300 or 400 level course (paper) there will be prerequisites for it.
The Otago department offering the course will determine if the student has the equivalent courses from their home university, as the Otago prerequisite courses. They will consider both courses they have already passed, and ones they are currently enrolled in and completing.
First the student will need to look up the course they are interested in on our website and there they will find the listed prerequisite papers. For example if a student wants to take PSYC 201 the prereq’s are PSYC 111 and 112. They should look at the content of these two 100 level papers and decide if they have covered similar content. Most students find it helpful to work with their faculty staff that are approving their course choices for guidance on this determination.
If they think they do have the right background learning they need to request Special Permission to enroll in the course. They do this when enrolling for their courses via eVision our student portal. Further instructions on selecting papers via eVision and seeking special permission for courses with pre-requisites are available here:

 Otago Paper Selection Guidelines 2016.pdf.

When will I register for classes?

Students will list courses for pre-approval on their University of Otago application (provided by Dickinson CGSE) at the time of application to Otago. Students will take 4 courses abroad. Search for courses on Otago's Subjects and Papers website. 

Will the courses count towards my major?

Many courses taken at UO can count towards your major, and a few departments have pre-approved courses. You should check with your academic advisor on campus prior to course selection and departure to New Zealand, as well as any changes you make during the add/drop period on site.

Will they count in my GPA?

Some UO courses in various academic departments are approved as “Dickinson courses” by some Dickinson academic departments. Letter grades earned for these courses will be included in the student’s GPA.

All psychology courses will count towards the GPA, regardless if a student takes the course(s) for psychology major credit or not.

All courses will be listed on the Dickinson transcript with letter grades earned, but will NOT be computed into your GPA. For these courses, credit toward the degree will be granted only if grades of “C” (2.00 on a 4.00 scale) or better have been earned. Official UO transcripts of the grades earned at the University are kept in the student’s permanent file in the Registrar’s Office at Dickinson College.

What is a full course load and How will my courses transfer?

Students must take a normal full load as defined by their program. A full course load at the University of Otago is 4 courses, one of which must be a New Zealand culture course. Students may not under-enroll under any circumstances. If a student registers for more than the maximum courses allowed without permission from their academic advisor at Dickinson and the Center for Global Study and Engagement, the course credit will not transfer. Students will also be responsible for any additional fees for doing this.

  • Only liberal arts classes will qualify for transfer credit.
  • Generally speaking, courses must have an equivalent at Dickinson. Exceptions include classes that focus on the culture and/or history of the country in which the student is studying.
  • Transfer credit will not be awarded for coursework that duplicates what a student has already completed at Dickinson.
  • Credits will only transfer if you receive the course equivalent of a “C” or better. For all courses taken at the University of Otago, the equivalent letter grades earned ARE RECORDED on the student’s transcript, however, grades WILL NOT be computed in the Dickinson GPA. 

Is there a language requirement?

No, New Zealand is an English speaking country.

Academic Excursions

Does this program include any group travel once I’m in country?

No, but students will receive a stipend for cultural activities and independent excursions while abroad.  This will be applied to your student account before you leave for the semester.

Can a friend or family member who is not on the program also travel with us?

No, unfortunately, non-program participants are not able to join the program for excursions, unless specified by the University of Otago excursion organizer.

Dates and Flights

When is orientation?

In addition to the mandatory pre-departure orientation at Dickinson, there will be an on-site orientation when you arrive. The Dickinson orientations generally take place in April for Fall and Full Year outbound students and November for Spring semester students.

What are the program dates? 

Program dates cam be found here

Is there a group flight?

Students will receive flight information from the University of Otago. Students are responsible for booking their own travel to/from New Zealand. Students should not purchase their flights until instructed to do so by the University of Otago. We encourage students to carefully review the change fees and cancellation policies before booking a flight.
The CGSE does not endorse any particular travel agent or booking website but does provide additional guidance about booking flights on the CGSE website.

What if my family wants to visit me?

If you have family or friends who are planning to visit you, please do not make travel plans until you arrive at the program and become familiar with your class schedule.  It is not acceptable to skip class for personal travel.

When will I have time to travel?

Many students travel on their own during major New Zealand holidays when classes are not in session.

Can I arrive early or stay after the program ends?

Students may arrive early or stay late if they wish to travel on their own when classes are not in session.  Please note that if you choose to arrive early or stay late, you will be responsible for your lodging.  You should also consider your visa validity when you make the decision of whether or not you may arrive early or stay late.  No student may arrive late for the start of the program.



How much does the program cost?

The program budget sheet can be found at the top of this page, under "Fall, Spring, Year" to the left of the Apply Now button.

What is included in the program fee?

The fee includes tuition, room, board, a cultural stipend, New Zealand medical insurance and emergency insurance.  Airfare and visa fees are not included.  The budget sheet also lists additional fees students should anticipate.

Is my flight included?

The flight is not included, but the cost is taken into consideration when your financial aid need is calculated for your semester abroad.

How much extra money do I need to bring?

This depends on you.  We encourage students to not travel every weekend, but to really engage their host city in meaningful ways during their semester abroad.  An estimate of personal expenses is included on the budget sheet, but it really depends on you and your spending habits.

Will I receive a stipend?

You will receive a board credit on your student account to pay for food while abroad and a cultural stipend.

How will I access my money in Dunedin?

The International Office on-site can discuss how to open a bank account during orientation and how to access your money. You may also wire transfer money from any U.S. bank to your New Zealand account for a fee.



How do I access health care in New Zealand?

As part of the program fee, you are covered under New Zealand medical insurance plan as well as emergency medical insurance through Dickinson College. During your on-site orientation, you will be informed of local clinics and hospitals to go to if you are ill. If you need immediate assistance, contact the proper authorities and the Otago International Office.

What if I become seriously ill?

Call emergency services for an ambulance; then contact the international office at Otago immediately after.

Dickinson also provides students with medical and travel security assistance through International SOS. For more information about the Dickinson emergency medical plan, please visit our Health and Insurance Abroad page for more information. 


Where will I live in Dunedin?

You will reside in Otago "flats," or apartments. 

Where is my apartment located?

The Otago flats are located very close to campus.

When do I find out information about my housing?

You will find out about your housing after you have been accepted to the program through Dickinson and Otago.

Who will I live with?

Most likely, you will live with other International students, 

Is there a meal plan?
No, students in Otago do their own cooking. A variety of options for food shopping are found throughout downtown Dunedin. Part of the fun of living in Dunedin is in discovering your favorite shops and cooking your own food.

Will I have my own bathroom?

You will share a bathroom with your flatmates.

Will I have access to a kitchen, laundry facilities?

Yes, the flats are fully-furnished, including curtains, rugs, a stove, fridge and washing machines.

What if I don’t get along with my roommates?

If you have issues with your flatmates you can speak to the Student Accommodation Center at the University.


Are internships available?

Internships are not generally available in New Zealand.

Can I do research while abroad?

Research opportunities may be available in specific departments at UOtago.  Please speak directly with the academic departments, once you arrive, if you are interested in pursuing these opportunities. 

Additionally, students may be able to conduct research abroad under the guidance of a Dickinson advisor. The Student International Research Fund (SIRF) was established to help students with extra travel costs associated with independent research projects.  Students are encouraged to present their research at the International Research Symposium when they return to campus.  For more information, click here.


What is a visa?

A visa is a document, normally affixed within your passport, which allows you to enter the country and stay for the duration of your program.  The requirements for the visa and visa process are controlled by the government of the country you are entering, are non-negotiable, and can change regularly.  If you arrive without the proper visa, you will be sent home by immigration officers at your own expense.

Do I need a visa?

Yes you will need a student visa to study in New Zealand.

How do I get a visa?

You will gather the essential materials, provided by yourself, Dickinson College and Otago, and make an online application. 

Do I have to go to the consulate/embassy?

Most students from the U.S. are eligible to apply through the online application system.  

How much does a visa cost?

The current application fee is 270.00NZD or approximately $182.00 (for online application).

If I’m not a U.S. passport holder, are there any additional requirements?

Yes, you will need to do your own research on visa requirements for citizens of your home country to study in the UK. The CGSE may be able to help you with the required documents. Also, you will need to inform International Student Services that you will be studying outside of the United States and discuss how you will remain in valid F-1 status during your studies abroad.

Will the CGSE help me with the visa?

The CGSE will provide some documentation and visa guidelines, but ultimately it is your responsibility to obtain your visa.

Student Perspective

Global Ambassadors are returning off-campus studies students who serve as peer advisors for their program. Please feel free to contact them for a global student perspective.


Study Abroad Advisors (Please call for an appointment):

Center for Global Study and Engagement
Dickinson College

Stephanie Gulden
Center for Global Study and Engagement

On-Site Administration

University of Otago International Office

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