HomeProgrammesEducationNew Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3)

New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3)

Level 3

The UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3) will give you a solid grounding in all aspects of early childhood education.

A UCOL student attending the early childhood class where she is enjoying painting
Quick info

Level: 3

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North, UCOL Whanganui, UCOL Wairarapa in Masterton, UCOL Horowhenua in Levin

Duration: 19 weeks full-time
(See Course Hours & Duration for details)

Palmerston North
19 Feb 2024 - 28 Jun 2024
22 Jul 2024 - 29 No 2024

22 Jul 2024 - 29 Nov 2024

19 Feb 2024 - 28 Jun 2024

19 Feb 2024 - 28 Jun 2024

Domestic Fees: *

Scholarship info

International Fees:*
$12,500 + Student Services Levy $295.50

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

Learn how to care for infants, toddlers and young children as an entry-level educator in an early childhood centre in the UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3). The Certificate covers health, safety and nutrition; caring for young children; development and learning; and how to develop educational programmes for infants, toddlers and young children. 

As part of this early childhood education programme you will take on a practicum placement in an early childhood setting to put your learning into practice.

 Course Hours & Duration

This programme runs for 19 weeks, including 2 holiday weeks.

Per week, your learning will include approximately:

Class Time
15 hrs

In-person, online and in-work.
Industry Experience
12 hrs

Work in a ECE setting as part of 60 hrs practicum.

Plus, a 2-week practicum, once during the semester:

Industry Experience

Work in a ECE setting as part of 60 hrs practicum.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Successful graduates of the UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3) have introductory knowledge of children's learning and development and will be able to contribute to the workplace as an entry-level carer. Job opportunities include:

  • Early childhood centres
  • Home-based childcare centres

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries for Teachers, see careers.govt.nz

Education pathway

Graduates who wish to go on to further study can enrol in:

 Course Information

Note: As a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, UCOL Te Pūkenga is committed to providing the best learning outcome for you. As part of this, all programmes are currently being reviewed to make them portable, consistent, and closely aligned with the needs of the industry. When published, this course information is correct, but the courses offered may change over time. If you have any questions call an Enrolment Advisor on 0800 468 265.

This programme consists of 60 credits. 

Early Childhood Learning and Development Theory (15 Credits)
Gain an operational knowledge of children’s learning, development, growth and environmental influences in an early childhood and care context within New Zealand. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to demonstrate knowledge of children's development and their basic needs, explain the link between attachment behaviour and patterns of behaviour in young children, and demonstrate knowledge of the factors that influence nutrition and their effect on early childhood development.

Culture and Communication in an Early Childhood Setting (15 Credits)
Develop a range of communication skills to enhance social competency when working with a diverse range of cultural groups within New Zealand. This includes using basic te reo Māori and Tikanga Māori within a familiar early childhood context to promote awareness of Māori as Tangata Whenua.

Legislative and Ethical Practices in an Early Childhood Context (15 Credits)
Develop an awareness of the legislative requirements that support early childhood services in New Zealand, including:

  • Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008
  • Licensing Criteria for Education and Care Services
  • Vulnerable Children Act 2014
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers
  • Philosophy of Early Childhood Education
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi 

Early Childhood Practicum (15 Credits - 60 hours)
Gain practical experiences within an early childhood setting to develop confidence, skills and cultural competency in working with children, families/whānau and fellow educators.

Previous Related Programme

The New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:

  • National Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Industry Connections

Learners complete placements in industry so we have a wide-range of connections to Early Childhood Centres in our regions.

 Learning Facilities

Learn from our experienced and supportive lecturers in our Early Childhood classrooms on both our Palmerston North and Masterton campuses and when on placement in Centres.

 Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 1


Equivalent academic achievement


On a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Dean

Learners must authorise UCOL to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency. If a conviction and/or a matter of concern is identified, the decision for accepting the applicant’s enrolment onto the programme is at the discretion of the Head of School.

UCOL will undertake a safety check of all students to ensure UCOL meets the legislative requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act, 2014. UCOL will do this on behalf of early childhood education institutions and providers of private childcare placements hosting UCOL learners.  The safety check involves confirming the learner's work history, verifying their suitability to work with children with a trusted referee, and the completion of New Zealand Police vetting.

English language proficiency
If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.0 with no band score less than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible).


For more information about NCEA Credits see the UCOL Te Pūkenga NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international learner applicants.

English language proficiency
International learner applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS Academic score of 5 with no band score lower than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible).

Under 20 years of age
In addition to this, international applicants under 20 years of age must have NCEA equivalency.

 Advice & Guidance

Learners will be placed in an early childhood setting organised by UCOL to complete 60 hours of work experience. Work placements and successful completion of the programme are dependent on a satisfactory police check and UCOL ability to place learners successfully.

Whanganui and Masterton classes will be on Thursdays and Fridays.
Palmerston North and Levin classes will be on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Te Pūkenga Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020, and Universal College of Learning Limited, a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga is accredited to teach it.