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Types of midwifery education in New Zealand

In New Zealand there are several types of midwifery education:

Pre-registration midwifery education

Pre-registration midwifery education programmes are four-year Bachelor degree programmes. They are designed to prepare students for registration as a midwife in New Zealand. All students whether full time or part time must complete the programme within five years of commencement.

The Council has approved a pathway for students who already hold registration and a practising certificate as a health professional in New Zealand. This approved pathway provides a programme of education which includes recognition of prior learning thereby reducing the amount of time required to complete the degree. This pathway is available through ARA Institute of Canterbury and Otago Polytechnic.

The Midwifery Council has set standards for approval of pre-registration midwifery education programmes and accreditation of tertiary education organisations, with processes for approval, accreditation, on-going monitoring and audit. The standards replace those published in 2007 and came into effect on 1st November 2015. All programmes of education must comply with the revised standards by 1st January 2017.

Links to the midwifery schools can be found here:



Otago Polytechnic (satellites available in Whanganui, Palmerston North, the greater Wellington region, Dunedin, Southland and Central Otago)

Victoria University of Wellington

Ara Institute of Canterbury


Other health professionals pathways

The Council has approved a transition pathway for registered and practising health professionals who wish to  become Registered Midwives through Otago Polytechnic and Ara Institute of Canterbury.

Registered and practising health professionals who wish to find out further information should contact the schools in the first instance.


Continuing midwifery education 

This is for registered midwives who wish to gain further qualifications such as a Masters degree in midwifery or a doctorate. 

All midwives must demonstrate a commitment to participate in ongoing professional development. For some midwives, professional development will include the desire to gain further academic qualifications to complement their midwifery.  Examples of these may be enrolment in a postgraduate diploma or certificate leading to a Masters degree in midwifery or health science, a PhD or a doctorate in health science.

Health Workforce New Zealand encourages midwives to participate in postgraduate education by providing financial grants to subsidise the cost of enrolment fees and travel expenses.  The grants are administered through the NZ College of Midwives.  

Postgraduate education directly related to midwifery is offered at the following tertiary institutions:

Recertification programme

These are short courses and workshops to keep midwives up to date with clinical skills or aspects of midwifery practice. These courses provide evidence of competence within the Recertification Programme.

Internationally qualified midwives programme

The Competence programme is for internationally qualified midwives seeking registration in New Zealand. These courses are approved by the Midwifery Council and comprise:

  • New Zealand Maternity and Midwifery Systems
  • Prescribing and Pharmacology
  • Treaty of Waitangi
  • Cultural Competence
  • Examination of the Newborn

Return to practice programmes

The Return to practice programmes are for midwives who have been out of practice for three or more years and wish to re-join the workforce.