Returning to study: information for adult students

If you’re thinking about coming to university for the first time, or you’re returning to tertiary study after some time, you may be wondering if AUT is for you and how you’ll manage your workload – or even what you should study.

If up-skilling, retraining or keeping up with industry trends is on your mind, find out how AUT can help make your plans happen. Our flexible programme options mean you can fit your studies around your other priorities.

Why study at AUT?
More reasons to study at AUT

Talk to us about your study options

We can help with advice on study options and returning to study as an adult. Get professional, one-to-one advice by booking an adult student information session.

Book an adult student info session

Before you apply to study at AUT, find out if you can get credit for previous study or experience, and get an idea of the time commitment required.

Build on your previous experience

If you have previously studied at tertiary level or think you may have work or life experience relevant to the programme you want to study, you may be able to get credit for it. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is credit granted towards your AUT programme from previous tertiary studies or through life or work experience.

Find out more

Time commitment and semester dates

The time you will need to devote to studying will depend on the programme you choose to study and whether it's part or full-time. Here's a rough guide to how much study time you'll need to put in, and how the university year is structured.

Semester dates and the academic year

An academic year is divided into two 15-week semesters. Semester one runs from late February/March to late June, while semester two runs from mid-July to mid-November.

You can find key academic dates on our semester dates page. To find the start date and duration of a specific programme (course), check the 'Quick facts' box on the programme page you're interested in.

Study options
Semester dates

Time commitment and study effort

How much time you devote to studying will depend on the programme you choose to study and whether you study full-time or part-time.

Each programme is made up of a certain number of papers (courses). Each paper will include some class time (lectures or tutorials, delivered in person or online), and you will also need to do more study in your own time. As a general guide, you should aim to spend at least two hours of your own time on each paper, each week – this might include reading notes or texts, working on assignments or completing tasks.

At AUT we have more than 250 programmes to choose from, with options to study part-time or full-time – so you can work flexibly around other commitments.

Certificates and diplomas

If you haven’t got a university qualification and you’re keen to upskill or reskill in a certain field, have a look at our certificates and diplomas. You can complete a certificate in as little as six months. These may be a good way to develop your career or prepare you for further study in a bachelor’s degree.

Certificates and diplomas

Undergraduate degrees

AUT offers undergraduate degree programmes across a range of study areas, designed to give you a solid grounding in your chosen career area, or prepare you for postgraduate study and research.

Study options

Postgraduate study

If you have a bachelor’s degree, postgraduate study can help you gain more specialist skills in the area you’re interested in. Some postgraduate courses allow you to study part-time.

View all postgraduate courses

Short courses

If you’re not yet ready to commit to a full programme of study but want to develop your knowledge in an area of personal or professional interest, consider a short course. Delivery and duration of short courses vary: some are online or may be held on weekends only, while others may take place in person during weekdays.

View short courses

Starting or returning to university as an adult can seem daunting, but at AUT we have a range of support services and staff available to help you get started – and to help you succeed. If you’re planning to fit your study around family or working commitments, we recommend getting familiar with all of our student support services before you begin here.

Facilities and support services for students

From counselling and mental health support, medical centres and gyms to support for people with disabilities – AUT offers a comprehensive range of services to all students.

Support services and facilities

Academic and study support

Preparing for university study is important – you might find the way you need to work, write or use technology is different to what you’re used to. There are lots of ways you can get support.

The AUT Library’s academic learning advisors, group sessions and workshops are great ways to get support with academic skills and study prep. Peer mentors can help you with specific subjects and general academic skills. And when you’re on campus, the Student Hub is the best place to ask a question or look for academic or personal help.

Spaces for study

If you don’t have a suitable place study at home, there are lots of spaces on each of our campuses where you can study. Some are dedicated areas including bookable group study rooms and postgrad study rooms, as well as the AUT Library and general spaces for work and relaxing.

Food, retail and student spaces on campus

Students with families

Juggling study and family commitments can be tricky – we offer spaces and services to help you manage:

Most of our programmes – certificates, diplomas and degrees – have different requirements you need to meet to be able to study here. For example, if you want to study for a bachelor's degree, the minimum entry requirement is University Entrance (gained from NCEA, Bursary, Higher School Certificate or other NZ secondary school qualifications).

There are no formal entry requirements for short courses, although some have prerequisites. Check the information on the page for the course you're interested in.

Don't have formal qualifications?

If you don't have University Entrance, or any formal qualifications at all, you may still be eligible to study.

Check our entry requirements page for more information, or look at the 'Entry requirements' tab on the specific programme page you're interested in.

Find out about getting recognition of prior learning, how to apply, and where to find information about fees and funding.

Find a programme

city campus

AUT City Campus

55 Wellesley Street East
Auckland Central
north campus

AUT North Campus

90 Akoranga Drive
Northcote, Auckland
south campus

AUT South Campus

640 Great South Rd
Manukau, Auckland


Contact us

Any questions about studying at AUT? We’re here to help.

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Kyle Gibson

Applying to AUT

Find out how to apply, and learn more about our fees and scholarships.

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