Time to completion

At Massey we have a specified Time to Completion for all postgraduate qualifications and a strongly recommended Time to Completion for all undergraduate and graduate qualifications. 

For undergraduate and graduate qualifications, the strongly recommended Time to Completion will generally be 8 years. This means that it is anticipated that all students will have graduated with at least one undergraduate or graduate qualification after 8 academic years. Where there is a specific Time to Completion requirement in an undergraduate or graduate qualification this will be stated in the qualification regulations.

For postgraduate qualifications there is a sliding scale for Time to Completion which relates to the size (credit value) of the qualification.

General information

Why does Massey have a Time to Completion?

Our focus has long been on lifelong learning as we have recognised that opportunities to learn at any stage of life enhances wellbeing, improves people’s earning potential, and contributes to our economy and community. We continue to support our distance and part-time learners, along with our full-time students, with appropriate resources to enable all students to fulfil their potential.

Time to Completion for graduate and undergraduate qualifications and the extension of Time to Completion across all postgraduate qualifications was introduced to assist in improving student success and completion.

With Time to Completion we can support students by fostering an environment where students are encouraged to:

  • commit to their study through regular enrolments
  • maintain contact with us regarding their study intentions
  • consider completing smaller qualifications (eg certificates) before moving onto larger qualifications (eg degrees). If starting with a degree is too big a step to start with.

The Time to Completion along with a Abandonment of Place (three consecutive academic years with no successful enrolment), also provides clarity around our obligation to keep obsolete or significantly changed qualifications, and places in qualifications, open for students beyond a reasonable time frame or where students are no longer actively engaged with us.

New undergraduate and graduate students

Students who are studying full-time for a 360 credit bachelor degree, such as the BA, will generally sit 8 courses per year and complete their degrees in 3 years. If you fail one or more courses the 8 year Time to Completion provides plenty of time for you to catch up. If you need a semester or two off from study because of illness, family, or other personal circumstances, this too can be easily accommodated within 8 academic years. If you are studying part-time please see the Part-time students section.

I have studied at a previous tertiary institution. How does this affect me?

If you are transferring to Massey from another tertiary institution you will still have 8 academic years to complete your first undergraduate or graduate qualification. If you transfer credit into a Massey qualification we expect that the time take to complete your qualification will be reduced proportionately to the amount of credit you are permitted to transfer. For example, if you are enrolling in the BBus and we credit you with 4 courses from your studies elsewhere, the time you should expect to complete is 7 academic years (8 years minus 60/360 credits, rounded to the next whole academic year). For other examples see the Additional details for undergraduate and graduate students section.

Returning undergraduate and graduate students

The Time to Completion was introduced in 2012 is not applied retrospectively. Your academic history prior to 2012 will not count towards the 8 year expected completion time frame. 

If you are not currently enrolled in a qualification, but want to return to Massey for further study after a break, you may find that the qualification in which you were previously enrolled has changed. You will need to meet the requirements of the new regulations for that qualification or the nearest equivalent if the qualification is no longer available.

If you have previously graduated and want to transfer or cross-credit courses into a new qualification, the time we expect you to complete your qualification in will reduce proportionately to the amount of credit you are permitted to transfer. For example, if you have completed a Diploma in Arts and would like to surrender that in order to complete the BA, the time you should expect to complete in is 6 academic years (8 years minus 120/360 credits, rounded to the next whole academic year).

For more information about breaks from study and transfer of credit examples see the Additional details for undergraduate and graduate students section.

Part-time students

Three courses a year is unrealistic for me. Does this mean I can never get a degree?

We have a long history of providing study opportunities that fit around people’s busy lives. We understand that many of our students are juggling employment, family, community, and study commitments. Many students start off with one or two courses a year, and increase their workload over time. We can help you plan your workload and give you study advice.

If you find at any point you do not anticipate completing within 8 years, please contact us for advice and options including award of alternative qualifications.

Postgraduate students

The Times to Completion for postgraduate qualifications are:

Qualification Credit value Time to Completion (Academic Years)
Postgraduate certificate 60 credits 2 years
Postgraduate diploma 120 credits 4 years
Bachelor honours 120 credits 1 year/ 3 years*
Masters degree 120 credits 4 years
180 credits 5 years
240 credits 6 years

* 1 year from first year of enrolling full-time, 3 years from first year of enrolling part-time.

In 2012 Time to Completion was introduced for postgraduate certificates (2 years), postgraduate diplomas (4 years), and 180 credit masters (5 years) which did not have time limits specified in qualification regulations previously. The Time to Compete for these qualifications only applies from 2012 onwards.

Additional details for undergraduate and graduate students

What are the time frames for each undergraduate and graduate qualification?

To find out the Time to Completion for your qualification, you will need to refer to the qualification regulations. If a time is specified, then this is the length of time available to complete that qualification. If no time is specified, then the general 8 academic years' Time to Completion will apply.

Exceptions are:

  • Conjoint BA/BBus, BA/BSc, BBus/BSc: 10 years (other conditions apply).
  • Professional degrees, eg nursing/veterinary/Teaching, as specified in Qualification Regulations.

How is the 8 years calculated?

The 8 years equals 8 consecutive academic years from the year in which the student first enrolled. Eg a student who enrolled for the first time in Semester One 2019 will have until Summer Semester 2027 to complete. A student who enrolled for the first time in Semester Two 2020 will have until Summer Semester 2028 to complete.

I would like to have a break from study. What does this mean for me?

The Time to Completion is calculated on the basis of consecutive academic years from the year in which you first enrolled. This means that if you choose not to study for any period of time the 8 years count continues while you are on a break. It is helpful if you let us know about your intentions, or if you have experienced exceptional circumstances which have made a break from study necessary. This will assist us to provide you with appropriate advice.

If you take a break of three or more academic years, we consider that you have abandoned your place in the qualification. This means that while you can apply to re-enrol at a later date, we are not obligated to hold a place open for you. This may mean that:

  • If the qualification has changed substantially, you may need to enrol in additional or different courses to complete the qualification.
  • If the qualification has been terminated, you may have to complete the nearest alternative qualification.
  • If enrolments are oversubscribed, you may need to compete with other students for a place in the qualification.
  • If you have had poor academic performance, we may choose not to readmit you.


I’m going on a Student Exchange. How will that be counted?

The time you spend on a Student Exchange will be counted as part of the 8 years time frame. Successful study while on exchange will credit in full towards your Massey qualification.

What if I want to change from one qualification to another at Massey University?

We understand that your interests and goals may change as you engage with new topics and pursue new opportunities. If you have not yet completed your first graduate or undergraduate qualification you can apply to change the qualification in which you are enrolled at any time. However, changing qualifications will not extend the recommended 8 years' time to complete.

If your new graduate or undergraduate qualification has a shorter time to complete than 8 consecutive academic years (eg Bachelor of Nursing has a five year time to complete), you may not take longer than the maximum time specified in the qualification regulations. For example, if you have completed one year of a Bachelor of Science, and choose to change to a Bachelor of Nursing the following year, you will have a maximum of five more years to complete the Bachelor of Nursing, making six years in total from when you commenced your Bachelor of Science. If you are receiving student loans or allowances and want to change your qualification, check with your funding body (eg StudyLink) to ensure you understand the implications.

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