Find the right course – info for school leavers

Not sure what course is right for you? Feeling confused by all the options? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!

It’s okay if you don’t know yet – many students start uni without being too sure how they see their future. In most of our programmes your first year gives you a bit of an overview of your chosen subject area and career field to help you decide what subjects you want to focus on later on.

And if you change your mind and want to move to a different programme, that's okay too and we'll help you work it out.

Courses you can study as a school leaver

1. Types of courses you can study

If you’re new to university you can study:

Bachelor’s degree

Most common qualification for school leavers. Usually 3 years of full-time study


You need UE to get in

Conjoint programme or double degree

A combo of two bachelor’s degrees you study at the same time, usually 4 or 5 years*

You need UE to get in and may need NCEA level 3 merit

Diplomas or certificates

Pathway courses that give you a taste of uni and prepare you for further study. Shorter; either 1 year or 6 months

UE is usually not required

*For even more subject combinations in a shorter timeframe instead consider one of our flexible degrees

2. Decide what subjects you're interested in

No matter what type of course you choose, you also need to decide what topics or subjects you’re interested in. Different courses focus on different topics and lead to different careers. You’ll be happiest in a course and a career that matches your interests.

If you’re not sure what you want to do, think about what school subjects or activities you enjoy, what things you’re good at and what values are important to you.

Use the info on this page to get some ideas, or you can also check out the Careers New Zealand website for interactive tools for career ideas.

How other students decided what to study at uni

Rhodes Sikireta

Rhodes Sikireta

Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences in Networks and Cybersecurity with a minor in Marketing
“I chose to study computing because there are great job opportunities in this field and I’ve always had an affinity for working with computers, whether it was learning rudimentary networking for creating servers for games like Minecraft, or my general curiosity in data and how computers store and use it.”
Isabella Denholm

Isabella Denholm

Bachelor of Laws & Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice
“I’ve always been passionate about justice and helping people. I knew law would be an incredible platform to achieve that; regardless of whether I pursued a legal career path or not. I also chose to study criminology as it complemented my law degree well and gave me a broader understanding of our criminal justice system.”
Kasidy Wipani

Kasidy Wipani

Samoan, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Porou
Bachelor of Arts in Education with a minor in Health Promotion
“I’m passionate about health and education but was unsure what I wanted to do. With my degree I can further my understanding of how both contribute to society. I started my studies with a Diploma in Arts because I was on the fence about studying at university as my last year of high school – during COVID-19 – was difficult.”
Khooshi Patel

Khooshi Patel

Bachelor of Health Science (Oral Health)
“I was always playing dental games on the computer and was super excited when my name was called out in class for a dental checkup. When I stumbled across the oral health degree at AUT, it was the perfect blend for me. It offered a job where I could enjoy being on the computer and using my people skills to interact with patients.”
Junior Timothy Doedoke

Junior Timothy Doedoke

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Construction Engineering
“I chose to study construction engineering because it was always my passion to build things and be creative. Good construction engineering means that you can be sure of your safety and everyone else’s because you’ve learnt to design, plan, construct and manage infrastructures, and you contribute to ensuring a fun and safe environment for you and your community.”
Emily Wauters

Emily Wauters

Bachelor of Design Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa in Interaction Design and Software Development
“It's okay if you don’t know what you want to do. I’ve changed my degree once – from a computing degree to the design degree with software development as my second major – and I know people that have changed their degree over three times. There’s no correct way to do it.”
Tayla Webb

Tayla Webb

Bachelor of Business in Accounting and Economics
“I always wanted to do business in some form, but at first I wasn’t exactly sure what I specifically wanted to do. I actually didn’t think I’d choose accounting, however after completing the first semester introductory courses I realised that my mum was right and that accounting was a good fit for me.”
Mikayla Madden-Snoad

Mikayla Madden-Snoad

Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences
“The best way I could think to learn about the world’s issues and ways to improve people’s lives was by studying social sciences. I was fascinated by the insights social sciences can provide into society, culture, politics and people, and I wanted to explore the ways we interact with social structures on a daily basis.”
Prayag Shethia

Prayag Shethia

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechatronics Engineering
“I was always that one child who tried opening devices and broke them, but then felt the need to try fix them. I always wanted to achieve something different, a fresh perspective on solving problems. The beauty of studying mechatronics is that it’s the ‘Jack of all Trades’ of the engineering world.”

Need inspiration? Check out our videos

Not sure what a career in health or in business could be like? Love being creative but can’t picture how a future in the creative sector might look? Check out our videos for some inspiration.

Get insights into different careers

Learn about industry trends, job descriptions and the skills you need for different careers by reading our career sheers.


Browse our programme brochures

Our programme guides cover course information, details about studying at AUT and how to apply.


Talk to us about your study options

City Campus photo

Thinking about studying at AUT? Book a time with us to discuss your study options, learn more about uni life at AUT or perhaps even check out our campus for yourself.

Meet with us

Other ways to get ideas

  • Visit our open day, AUT LIVE
  • Chat to AUT’s student recruitment team when they visit your school
  • Talk to family, friends, neighbours and teachers for ideas
  • Keep your options open by studying a flexible degree

Differences between high school and uni

University can be quite different from high school, and it comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Understanding these differences will help you settle into uni life and make the most of this new chapter.


Start your studies with a pathway programme

pathway study at AUT

Want another way into AUT? Our pathway programmes are perfect if you’re not entirely sure what to expect from uni or missed out on getting into your dream degree.