Semester on the South Island, New Zealand

From sea kayaking and mountaineering to wine tasting and sheep shearing, you’ll love all that the South Island has to offer. Your Kiwi host (local New Zealand student) will show you around your new home at the country’s oldest university.

Our Semester on the South Island, New Zealand program has one of the widest ranges of courses offered in New Zealand! The broad course offerings in Semester on the South Island will allow you to continue working on your degree or enroll in some of the diverse classes that can only be found at this university.

We know New Zealand, and we want to share our knowledge with you. At CISabroad, all our advisors have studied or lived abroad. From sea kayaking and mountaineering to wine tasting and sheep shearing, we love all that New Zealand has to offer. We are committed to helping you get the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime overseas experience.

We offer the most affordable study abroad in New Zealand options- it all takes place right in the beautiful city of Dunedin. We want you to enjoy your time in New Zealand, but we don’t want you to break the bank while studying abroad. Extra savings mean extra money for traveling, shopping, and hanging out.

When you study abroad in New Zealand on our Semester on the South Island, New Zealand program, you'll be a student at New Zealand’s oldest university, the University of Otago. Become part of a distinguished educational experience in a vibrant, cosmopolitan city.  You will enjoy dynamic faculty members and unique courses in  the cultural capital of New Zealand’s South Island. When you study abroad in New Zealand you should start getting excited about:
New Zealand’s topography – Beautiful sand beaches, bush-clad hills, and tidal inlets are close to your apartment. 

World-class academics – The University of Otago is highly regarded for the quality of research produced by its students. Internationally recognized for advancements in higher education, the university boasts strong liberal arts, law, and science programs.

Hundreds of active clubs, societies, and student organizations – Learn the figurative ropes of wine appreciation in the wine club or the literal ropes of rock climbing in one of the student adventure organizations. With hundreds of clubs, you will find something that interests you or something new to try.

Live in the heart of Lord of the Rings country – Dunedin is an excellent gateway to Central Otago and Fiordland, where opportunities abound for hiking, skiing, water sports, adventure tourism (including bungee jumping), and admiring the spectacular landscapes. Dunedin’s coastal location and climate are ideal for a wide range of sports and other recreational pursuits.

The cosmopolitan city of Dunedin – Dunedin is the second-largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago region. For historical, cultural, and geographical reasons, Dunedin is considered to be one of New Zealand’s 4 major urban centers. With numerous shopping districts, eateries, cafés, and night-owl venues, you’ll always be entertained.

CISabroad Adventure Orientation - You'll start your program with a New Zealand focused orientation in Wellington, then join other CISabroad students on a 4 day/3 night orientation exploring the Great Barrier Reef! This orientation will provide you with a unique look into Australian culture and its iconic wildlife. You will have the opportunity to explore the rain forest, indigenous communities, and the largest tropical coral reef system in the world! You'll also be able to cross holding koalas, snorkeling, and feeding kangaroos off your bucket list!

IF you've ever wanted to study abroad in New Zealand, then check out our Semester on the South Island, New Zealand program! Here are a few of the key highlights that make this program unique.

  • Add on the January in New Zealand course and get an additional 4 credits & begin your Semester on the South Island one month earlier! 
  • Travel to New Zealand:  Beaches, coastline, mountains, and wilderness right outside your door
  • Located in the heart of Lord of the Rings country
  • Life in a bustling, cosmopolitan city
  • Courses at the oldest university in New Zealand
  • Service-learning and volunteer opportunities
  • Large, diverse student body with thousands of international students
  • An international student mentor
  • Hundreds of clubs and students organizations
  • Extensive sports facilities on campus
  • AACSB accredited Business School

Semester on the South Island offers 2 semesters, February to June and July to November. The University is well recognized for the quality of its research and teaching and is one of the few universities in the world where the main activity of its host city, Dunedin, is education. You will be able to choose subjects from across the University’s curriculum and attend classes alongside New Zealand students.

GPA Required: 3.0. If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement, do not despair! Use the "Contact An Advisor" button on this page or call us to let us know your situation. We'll do all we can to find the right program for you.

How to choose your courses
Now the fun part! As part of the application process you will be required to complete the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet found in the CISabroad Application Page. The following instructions will guide you through the steps of choosing your courses. You can choose courses in a wide variety of disciplines, including business, humanities, sciences, and health sciences. Please note that study abroad students typically are not permitted to take “papers,” aka classes, from the following degree areas: Dentistry, Medicine, Medical Laboratory Science, Pharmacy, and Physiotherapy.  

Course load: 3–4 “papers,” or classes (12–16 US credits). You can take up to 4 papers.

Course approval:  It is best to get 7–8 classes approved before you go abroad. This gives you some flexibility in setting up your class schedule. Think about courses required for your major, but also courses that fulfill your elective requirements.

Course descriptions and catalog: Click here to view all courses offered.

Timetables: Timetables are included in the description of each course.

How to read the University of Otago course catalog
You will find “papers,” aka courses, offered at the 100, 200, and 300 levels. The 200- and 300-level papers are often equivalent to courses that you would take in your junior and senior years in the US. They will have prerequisites. Papers above the 300 level are graduate-level.

Semester 1 in New Zealand is considered spring semester in the US, and Semester 2 is considered fall semester. A number of papers are listed as whole-year. You may enroll for these papers only if you intend to enroll for 2 semesters starting in Semester 1. 

Education Abroad Program Option

If you are looking for hands-on experience that will boost your teaching portfolio and provide an unforgettable study abroad experience, this program is for you! The CISabroad Education Study Abroad Program in New Zealand is a fantastic option to experience immersion in a bilingual setting. Bilingual because both te reo Maori, language of the Maori Culture, English and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. The classroom will offer you experience teaching in a diverse setting as many of the children may be from Somalia, Ethiopia, and the South Pacific islands. Ready to get started?

The placements are in Early Childhood Centers or Elementary schools, up to age 12. This unique aspect of this study abroad option involves a short practicum*, classes with University of Otago students who have been selected into the Bachelor or Teaching Program. Your classes will be a rich forum to learn with other pre-service teachers across country borders.

*note: The practicum may be too short for USA standards so please consult with your home university academic advisor, this may be appropriate for “pre-practicum” credits early in your educational career.

Additional application requirements: 

Skype Interview

Police clearance


Academics - Education Courses:

EDUC240 Teaching in Aotearoa/ New Zealand (4 US credits - 18 point class)*

Provides an introduction to education and children’s learning in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

EDPR240 Engaging in Teaching (4+ US credits - 26 point class)*. Provides a teaching experience in Study Abroad students and includes an introduction to professional, ethical, legal, and practical aspects of teaching. 1 week observation at beginning of course and final 4 week school placement.

Optional Courses (4 US credits each)

EDSU 101 Celebrating Dance in Culture

EDSU 104 Children’s Literature: Origins and issues

EDSU 105 Personal Health Education

EDSU 111 Children, Science and Play

EDUC 105 Disability Studies: An introduction

MAOR 102 Maori Society


* final credit transfer is determined by home US university.

Did you know that 70% of all CISabroad students receive scholarships or grants to study or intern abroad? You can get a grant for something as simple as applying early, or a scholarship for blogging. 

For details on all scholarship and grant offerings and to apply, please click here.

Dunedin is located towards the southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand and is the principal city of the province of Otago. With a population of 120,000, Dunedin offers students the best of both worlds in terms of city life. It has all the facilities, entertainment, and variety of larger cities but is small enough to be friendly, intimate, and uncrowded. Fun fact: Dunedin is home to Baldwin Street, which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the steepest street in the world.

Dunedin is also an excellent gateway to Central Otago and Fiordland. Here you can find all the things that make Dunedin famous for being an awesome destination for hiking, skiing, water sports, adventure tourism (including bungee jumping), and admiring the spectacular landscapes. Dunedin’s coastal location and climate make it ideal for a wide range of sports and other recreational pursuits, ensuring that you will never long for something to do.

New Zealanders, also known as Kiwi’s, are very proud of their sports steams, especially Rugby. In fact, Dunedin is the perfect place for Rugby fans to take part in this part of the culture and help cheer on the All Blacks. At the University of Otago, you can fully experience this by playing intramurals, or taking part in the Rugby semester offered by the University!

Our Semester on the South Island program is located at University of Otago. Founded in 1869, the public research university's business school owns the "double accreditation" of EQUIS and AACSB. The Committee on University Academic Programmes of Universities New Zealand is responsible for ensuring that New Zealand university academic programmes meet quality standards. Otago is ranked 8th in the world for Dentistry and 64th in Life Sciences and Medicine.

The University’s campus and culture are a mix of old and new. The campus itself is a short walk from the city's vibrant center. The University is known for being the most research intense university in New Zealand. The outstanding academics cater to students in the medical, biomedical, biological fields, and natural sciences. There are also many options for students studying liberal arts, and law, and the business school is AACSB accredited.

The University has about 20,000 students, with 1,000 international students from over 100 countries. While the University is considered a larger university, Dunedin isn’t a large city. In fact, the University accounts for about 20 percent of Dunedin’s population. It is truly an international experience with a distinct New Zealand feel due to the city’s intimate nature. Otago is ideal if you’re looking to live in a real college town! It is the only true college town in Australasia—the city revolves around the University. 

For students interested in volunteer work and service learning, the University offers numerous options. It is also a great place to learn a lot about the native Maori culture of New Zealand. The university is dedicated to academics and has received international recognition for its history over the years.

When you land in New Zealand, we want you to hit the ground running. As part of Semester on the South Island, New Zealand, you will participate in an extensive orientation program when you arrive. To better integrate into New Zealand life, we suggest that you take part in the International Student Mentor program, which pairs new international students with senior international and local students. This will start your semester off with opportunities to meet people and get involved in campus life. Right off the bat, you’ll have a support person and friend to help you adjust to life at the university and to Kiwi (New Zealand) culture.

The Student’s Executive and University College staff work hard to provide a packed schedule of events for students to take part in throughout the semester. Campus residents often take part in internal competitions (with trophies for the winners!), including table tennis, foosball, portrait painting, basketball, darts, puzzle making, poker, chess and many other events. They also have “Open Mic” nights and other exciting campus activities.

The Students’ Association (OUSA) supports over 100 student sports, arts, cultural, and faith groups. Rugby club, an outdoors club, and a student improv association are just a few of the many options – there is something for every interest group out there. Clubs and student organizations also provide valuable leadership opportunities and work experience for students involved as committee members and organizers. Twice a year, at the beginning of each semester, all the clubs, societies, and student organizations on campus hold an event that provides students with the opportunity to find out about these active and diverse groups. Take advantage of life on campus and throughout the city by getting involved!

As a Semester on the South Island, New Zealand student, your accommodation will be self-catered, at the Otago University Flats.

The university flats are located within a few minutes walking distance from the University of Otago campus and only 10 minutes from the main city shopping center.  Each of the flats is furnished, includes a basic kitchen set up to prepare your meals, and all of the bedrooms contain a double bed with mattress, a desk, chair, and drawers.  Students who live in these off-campus flats will have the opportunity to live with New Zealanders, and can immerse themselves in, and learn more about, the Kiwi culture. 

1. What is the cost of the program? What is included in the program fees?

The program cost for Semester on the South Island can be found on the Price and dates page.

2. When are the program fees due?

Program fees for Semester on the South Island are due on December 31st for Spring programs and June 1st for Fall programs. CISabroad will email invoices to students approximately one month before the program payment deadline. For example, if your payment deadline is July 15, you should expect your invoice in mid-June. If you are using financial aid, please ensure all financial aid paperwork is returned to our office by the payment deadline. If your financial aid does not cover your entire balance, CISabroad accepts these payment methods.

3. What is due with my application and when is my application due?

The application process can be broken into easy steps!

The first step is to fill out the online application, which includes your contact information, what program you are applying for, etc. (Only takes five minutes!)

After filling out the online application, an advisor from our Global Advising Center will grant you portal access with a set of preliminary forms.

The next step is to pay the $200 application deposit in order to secure your space in the program. This amount will be applied toward the final cost. 

Within a day after submitting your deposit, you will receive a welcome email from your Program Coordinator—the person you will work with until departure. Your Program Coordinator will then give you program specific items in your portal. (Note: Both preliminary portal pieces and program specific tasks must be completed by the application deadline.)

#CISabroadTip: Contact your school’s registrar and have them send us your transcript early on in the application process (you can send us your transcript even before you’ve made the $200 deposit!) since snail mail makes this the slowest piece to submit. (We do also accept electronic OFFICIAL transcripts if your school provides them.)

For detailed instructions, see application instructions. Application deadlines can be found here.

4. Do I need a passport or visa? When should I apply for my passport/visa?

For Semester on the South Island, you WILL need a passport. Your passport must be valid for 6 months BEYOND the date you return to the United States. For detailed passport instructions, U.S. citizens should check the State Department's Travel Site. For Semester on the South Island, you WILL need a visa. You will receive specific visa instructions once you have been accepted to the program.

5. Is there a GPA requirement?

Yes! For Semester on the South Island, the GPA requirement is 3.0. If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement, do not despair! Use the "Contact a CISabroad Advisor" button on this page or call us at 1-877-617-9090 to let us know your situation. We'll do all we can to find the right program for you!

6. What are my housing options?

For Semester on the South Island, you will live in self-catered accomodations at the Otago University Flats.

7. Will other students participate in the program with me? How many?

CISabroad programs are not only a great way to meet local and international students, but also students from around the United States. Program size varies each year - if enrollment size is important to you, contact a CISabroad advisor at 1-877-617-9090.

8. How many credits are offered in the program?

For Semester on the South Island, you will enroll in 3–4 “papers” or classes (12–16 U.S. credits). You can take up to 4 “papers” per semester. To see the courses available, go to the course catalog.

9. Can I combine this program with another CISabroad program like intern, summer, or semester abroad?

Yes! A great way to extend your CISabroad experience is participating in another program. Combine semester programs to create a full academic year or if an academic year is just a little too long and a semester is too short, combine a semester and summer session or a semester and January term program. You can also participate in a semester abroad and combine that with a summer intern abroad. To find out more information on the application process for more than one CISabroad program, contact a CISabroad advisor at 1-877-617-9090.

CISabroad’s Site Director in New Zealand:

Alexandra Hill (Alex) was born in Perth, Western Australia and spent the first two years of her life in Lae, Papua New Guinea before returning to Australia. Although born in Australia, she considers herself more a Kiwi, as she has lived in New Zealand for most of her life and now calls Wellington home. 

Alex has worked in international education for twelve years, nine working directly with US study abroad students and more recently with scholarship students. She feels privileged to have also supported students from Africa, South East Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific. At the start of 2014, Alex commenced a Masters in International Development at Victoria University of Wellington and is particularly interested in scholarship programmes and the role international education plays in development.

In 2011, Alex and her family moved to Singapore where they lived for two years. Living and working cross-culturally furthered her understanding of the challenges that international students face when studying overseas. Although demanding at times, living and travelling in Asia, sampling amazing food and making friends with people from all over the globe was a fantastic experience, which like studying abroad, has had a marked impact on Alex, her husband and children’s lives.

Travel is one of Alex’s favourite activities, but even when she is not travelling she furthers her knowledge of other cultures through reading, listening to current affairs, meeting international students, volunteering and through cooking international dishes. Having two boys keeps her active and as a family they enjoy wharf jumping, swimming, day walks and exploring the outdoors. 

Alex looks forward to welcoming the CISabroad students intending to study in New Zealand and will be on hand to provide support during the semester, as well as hosting a range of excursions that will give students a real taste of New Zealand’s unique culture and landscape.

Term: Spring 2017
Arrival February 13
CISabroad Orientation February 13-16
Classes Start February 27
Classes End June 21
Departure June 22
Application Deadline October 15
Term: Fall 2016
Arrival July 1
CISabroad Orientation July 1 - 4
University of Otago Orientation
July 4 - 8
Classes Start July 11
Classes End October 14
Departure November 10
Application Deadline Mid April
Term: Spring 2017 Price: $19,990
Term: Fall 2016 Price: $17,990

Dates posted here are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork.

To view expected additional expenses for this program, click here.

Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:

  • Full-time tuition and fees
  • Housing
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • Academic advising
  • Financial aid counseling
  • Predeparture orientation
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • CISabroad support services before, during, and after the program
  • Airport pickup
  • CISabroad Orientation in Wellington and a 4 day/3 night orientation on the Great Barrier Reef
  • University of Otago official transcript
  • Carbon offset of travel & Green Travel Guide

CISabroad  reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.