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New Zealand Study Abroad Program at University of Otago

About University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Minimum GPA: 2.8 (4.0 scale)
  • Application deadlines: November 1 for Semester 1 (Feb-June) and Calendar year (Feb-Nov)
    April 1 for Semester 2 (July-Nov) and Academic year (July-June)
  • Program advisor: Hannah Sutton

Program Snapshot


Kia ora! We're so excited that you're preparing to study abroad on an IFSA-Butler program and have chosen the University of Otago as your destination. Otago is located in Dunedin, a small college town conveniently located near the great outdoor sights of New Zealand's South Island. We're sure you're going to love studying there!

What Otago has to offer:

  • New Zealand's oldest university and a top-ranked research institution
  • An ideal setting for students interested in great academics and outdoor adventure
  • A unique student lifestyle in a close-knit community
  • International office, student health service, counseling service, theatre, concert hall, gymnasium, audiovisual center and information services center
  • A state of the art library with over 2,000 study spaces
  • An active student association and many societies and clubs for cultural, athletic, political and academic interests
  • Shops, music and entertainment within walking distance
  • The second southernmost university in the world with easy access to spectacular scenery and amazing recreation opportunities


  • Students reside with New Zealanders and other international students in a house or flat within walking distance of the university
  • Students prepare their own meals


Academic Structure

University of Otago is a semester or yearlong study abroad program. Students take 3 or 4 classes each semester, depending on the credits awarded.


Where can I find a list of courses that the university offers?

  1. Open the University of Otago online course catalog.
  2. This will take you to the Otago's web page. If you have an idea of the types of courses you want, you can search by "keywords" and "semester" to pull up a list of courses that meet your criteria.
  3. Additionally, at the top of the web page you can click on "List subjects by: A-Z" to see all the subjects listed in alphabetical order. When you click on a specific subject (e.g., accounting), information will come up regarding getting a degree in that area of study. You can then click on the "Papers" link and you will be taken to a list of all the "papers" (this is the term used for courses in NZ) offered in that area. Included in the list are the unit code and title of the paper, as well as the point value and semester offered. Click on the unit code for a brief description of the paper.

What departments can I study in?
As an IFSA-Butler student, you are entitled to enroll in undergraduate courses for which you are qualified and in which space is available. Course descriptions in the online course catalog (see above) include prerequisites you must fulfill in order to enroll in each course.

For each course that you list on your preference form, be sure to check the following:

  • When determining which courses to take, please bear in mind that the New Zealand academic system is an intensive, three-year program.
    • First-year (100-level) courses are appropriate for departments in which you have little or no prior experience.
    • Second-year (200-level) courses will be equivalent to advanced sophomore or junior-level U.S. courses.
    • Third-year (300-level) courses will be equivalent to senior-level U.S. courses.
    • Fourth-year (400-level) courses and higher are part of a postgraduate degree (Masters orPh.D.). You are not eligible to take these courses as an undergraduate study abroad student.
  • You may only take yearlong courses if you plan to study abroad for the calendar year (semesters 1 and 2, in that order).
  • Remember in New Zealand, U.S. fall semester = semester 2 and U.S. spring semester = semester 1. Be sure to select courses for the correct semester you are studying abroad.


You must take a full course load as determined by IFSA-Butler. Credit will be awarded on a Butler University transcript based on a typical U.S. full course load. All courses are graded on an A–F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses. You are not allowed to register for online, distance education or hybrid courses.

You should also be aware that you may be charged additional fees by your home institution or host university to take or process additional credits. Taking less than a full course load may jeopardize your student status and result in personal academic repercussions and/or loss of financial aid.


IFSA-Butler requires students to enroll in a full course load abroad. At the University of Otago, an IFSA-Butler full course load consists of 54-72 University of Otago points per semester or 120 University of Otago points per year. For information on the credit weight, please consult the chart below.

18 Points at Otago = 4.5 U.S. semester credit hours
20 Points at Otago = 5 U.S. semester credit hours
24 Points at Otago = 6.5 U.S. semester credit hours
30 Points at Otago = 7.5 U.S. semester credit hours


Because of the differences in the academic systems, you will not know your exam schedule until after you arrive at your host university. Your host university's policies do not permit you to reschedule any exams, request alternate assessments or arrange to have your exams proctored in the United States. If this occurs, IFSA-Butler cannot assist you in conducting an academic record appeal for the course in which you made this arrangement. You will need to complete and submit all academic work prior to departing the program.


After you have returned to the U.S., your home university will receive a Butler University transcript with the credit and grades you earned at University of Otago. The Butler University transcript will report the equivalent U.S. semester credit hours and letter grades. We also will send an official transcript to your permanent address.


Housing Options

What are my housing options?
IFSA-Butler students will live in University Flats.

In New Zealand a "flat" means some kind of rented living space. It can be anything from a studio apartment to a large, free-standing house shared among many "flatmates." Living in a flat, or "going flatting," is a quintessential part of the University of Otago experience. Dunedin is a student-focused city and the neighborhood around the university is comprised mainly of student flats. Flatting is a great way to have a close group of friends and a good deal of independence while keeping your living expenses down.

In a flat, you will be responsible for buying and preparing your own food and cleaning your living space. Flatmates usually share the food expenses (which can make living inexpensive) and the cooking and cleaning duties. Flats are a great option for students who want independence while living with a small group of people. In just about all cases, IFSA-Butler students will flat with New Zealanders and other international students. Otago does its best to assign students with like interests and living preferences to the same flat, so it is important to be honest and candid when completing your housing preference form.

University Flats are university-owned flats located within a few blocks of campus. Students live in four-five-or six-bedroom flats with shared bathrooms, living rooms, kitchen and laundry facilities. Each flat is unique; some are stand-alone houses, some are duplexes and others are row houses, but in every case, students have a single bedroom with furniture and a space heater. Students attending the University of Otago receive the Guide to Flatting after arriving in New Zealand. This information, based upon the experiences of past students, provides advice about how to get along in a flat and make the situation work.

Each student will receive a bedding pack upon arrival. The bedding package contains two pillows, two pillow protectors, two pillowcases, a mattress protector, a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, a duvet (comforter) and duvet cover, a lightweight blanket and a towel. All items are professionally laundered regularly.


No meal plans are available. Accommodations are self-catered.

Housing FAQs

When will I receive my housing assignment?
You will most likely receive your housing assignment one to two weeks before your departure. However, in some cases you may not receive your housing assignment until you arrive in New Zealand for orientation. Your program advisor will notify you of your housing assignment via e-mail when it is released by the university.

Please keep in mind that while IFSA-Butler guarantees housing, we cannot guarantee your preferences.

Can I arrange my own housing?
Yes. IFSA-Butler recognizes that some students require independent housing for their time abroad. If you choose not to take advantage of our guaranteed housing, you may sign up for independent housing on the housing preference form. Once you've made this choice, we will not provide housing for you or bill you for the accommodation fee.

Please be advised that housing costs can be high abroad, and many times students living independently end up spending more money than students living in IFSA-Butler arranged housing. If you are hoping to save money by arranging housing on your own, please research your options early so you can compare costs. You must notify us of your intention to live in independent housing by the program application deadline for your term abroad, listed at the top of this page. We are not able to accommodate independent housing requests after the deadline.

Location Info


Population: 120,000
Location: South Island

City features

  • A thriving college town on a busy port
  • Gorgeous views and wonderful natural beauty
  • A strong artistic tradition evident in art galleries, museums and nature preserves
  • Strong interest in sports and access to world-class venues, international events and amazing recreation opportunities

Do more!

  • Explore the unique ecological environments of the Otago Peninsula, home to yellow-eyed penguins, royal albatross, seals and sea lions
  • Visit the untouched rainforest of the Catlins and the rich flora and fauna of the fjords in Doubtful and Milford Sounds
  • Enjoy some of the best ski and boarding resorts in New Zealand along with kayaking, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, surfing and diving

Visit Dunedin
Dunedin Tourism
A-Z Visitor Guide
Regional Tourism Map
Destination Queenstown
Pure New Zealand
Dunedin News

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

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* All students must arrive in Auckland by this date.

Your program end date may change due to circumstances beyond IFSA-Butler's control. Upon arrival at your host university, be sure to verify your exam schedule and program end date. We also strongly recommend that you investigate fees and penalties associated with your airline tickets in case you need to make date or route changes.

Exams must be taken where and when scheduled. Under no circumstances may students request that an exam time be changed. In New Zealand exams are taken under formal examination conditions, and changes cannot be made for individuals.

All program support services end on the “Program ends” date.

Program Fees

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What's included in our New Zealand program fees
Expense calculator

Calendar Year and Semester 1 Payments Due: December 15
Academic Year and Semester 2 Payments Due:
May 15

Program Fee Bills
IFSA-Butler will send a single bill for tuition, services and housing. Any bills for tuition differentials and/or supplemental housing fees will be sent separately. Students who opt for independent housing will not be charged the housing component of the program fee.

The housing component of our program fee is based on the average cost of local student self-catering accommodation, usually a shared room in a regular dormitory, apartment or house without any extra features.

Personal Cost Estimates

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Expense calculator

The above numbers are general estimates of expenses during a program abroad. We recommend taking into account your current spending habits, the cost of living in your host country and the current exchange rate. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can be helpful as you attempt to work on a personal budget for your experience abroad.

These figures are designed to assist students with financial planning but are only estimates based on past students’ experiences at the current exchange rate. They do not include any entertainment or vacation travel costs. Meals are estimated based on the cost of a weekly standard grocery shop with one meal out.  If you plan to eat out once a day or more, we recommend using a higher estimate.  If you have dietary restrictions or follow a specific diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic, etc), you may also wish to budget more due to the higher cost of specialty food items.

The meals amount is based on the purchase of groceries and preparing most meals at home. Students who eat the majority of their meals in restaurants or on campus can expect to spend more on meals.

Personal Miscellaneous: Covers general expenses of college life, including course supplies, photocopying, toiletries, snacks, personal care, etc.

All costs are in U.S. dollars.

Meet Your IFSA-Butler Team

IFSA-Butler has a dedicated team of staff who are here to help students prepare for their program in New Zealand:

hannahProgram Advisor Hannah Sutton assists with the application process and is here to answer program, cultural and academic questions before departure. Hannah graduated from Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. During her junior year, Hannah spent a semester in Dublin on the IFSA-Butler Ireland program. Her experience led her to develop a passion for study abroad and education and she joined the IFSA-Butler team to help guide other students to their own study abroad adventures. Hannah currently advises students planning to study in Australia and New Zealand, and can be reached through the email link above or by phone at 800-858-0229 ext. 4266.

beckiStudent Accounts Coordinator Becki Niccum assists with the financial side of study abroad and processes payments and invoices. Becki can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-3077.

Student & Parent Services Manager Donnetta Spears is available to both students and parents for travel questions and information. Donnetta has worked with IFSA-Butler since 2000, and she has traveled through parts of Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As the mother of 4 college students (including one who studied abroad on an IFSA-Butler program), she has a deep understanding of the ins-and-outs of study abroad from a parent perspective. Donnetta can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4252.

Once abroad, our students are in the capable hands of our New Zealand staff, including Resident Director Sian Munro. Click here to read more about Sian.

abbyAcademic Records Coordinator Abby Miller graduated from Butler University where she worked as a guide for international students from all over the world. From that experience and combined with her own world travels, she knows the amazing experiences that studying abroad can provide. Abby is excited to work with IFSA-Butler students and to help answer any questions about their academic records. Abby can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229, ext. 4217.

Get Connected

Connect with IFSA-Butler Students

If you really want to know what it's like to study abroad, connect with IFSA-Butler alumni and students who are currently abroad on an IFSA-Butler program, check out the following:

Student Network
Student Blogs
Experiences Abroad Videos
For Students

Summer Program

The University of Otago also offers a summer study option. Students choose one or two courses and take part in field study opportunities outside of Dunedin. Courses offer a range of subjects, but all include a New Zealand focus. Accommodation and most meals are included as part of the program fee.

Click here for more information.

Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.