HomeProgrammesEducationNew Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 4)

New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 4)

Level 4

Interested in working with infants toddlers or young children? Study the UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care.

UCOL students in an early childhood class playing with a clay
Quick info

Level: 4

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

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

Palmerston North
19 Feb 2024 - 28 Jun 2024
22 Jul 2024 - 29 Nov 2024

19 Feb 2024 - 28 Jun 2024
22 Jul 2024 - 29 Nov 2024

22 Jul 2024 - 29 Nov 2024

22 Jul 2024 - 29 Nov 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.

The UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care will provide you with the opportunity pathway into a rewarding career caring for infants, toddlers and young children. 

You'll gain skills to work in multicultural settings, and play a key role enhancing family and community relationships.

New study options available:  We are offering weekend study options for this programme in Palmerston North, specifically for those in employment and the homecare early childhood education sector. 

Industry experience
As part of your studies, you'll participate in 60 hours of practicum studies in an early childhood setting organised by UCOL.

 Course Hours & Duration

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

Per week, your learning will include approximately:

Class Time
15 hrs

Lectures, tutorials and/or online recordings.
Work Time
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

Graduates of the UCOL New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care will be able to:

  • understand key early childhood socio-cultural theories of learning and development to inform and guide the holistic development and learning of children in an early childhood setting;
  • use knowledge of multiculturalism, family diversity, and the bicultural nature of the New Zealand early childhood curriculum framework, Te Whāriki, to plan, provide and review enriching learning experiences for infants, toddlers, and young children;
  • contribute to providing a culturally inclusive early childhood environment to foster the health, holistic well-being, and care of infants, toddlers, and young children;
  • communicate effectively and engage in respectful, reciprocal, and responsive relationships within an early childhood education and care community;
  • implement strategies to manage personal health, wellbeing, and professional development in an early childhood setting;
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of legislation and regulatory requirements, and how community and government services impact on early childhood settings and guide practices, to protect and support the wellbeing of children and families;
  • understand the diverse philosophical and cultural contexts and approaches informing early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand to develop a personal philosophy of practice;
  • implement bicultural early childhood education practice and promote awareness of Māori as tangata whenua, through using te reo Māori and tikanga Māori with infants, toddlers, young children and families/whānau in early childhood settings.

Education pathway

Graduates who wish to further specialise can enrol in Bachelor of Teaching (ECE)

Employment opportunities include working in a range of early childhood education settings as educators (teachers), Kaimahi, support workers, session leaders or organisers in parent-led services or playgroups including Pasifika and Māori.

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

 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. 

Learning and Development Theories (15 Credits)
Gain a broad theoretical understanding of the learning and development of infants, toddlers and young children. The course covers:

  • Concept of Ako
  • Significance of neuroscience
  • Attachment relationships and transitions
  • Socio-culture theories and holistic development
  • Models of wellbeing
  • Health, safety, care and nutrition requirements

Culture and Identity (15 Credits)
Learn to communicate and interact with a diverse range of cultural groups within Aotearoa New Zealand.

Professional and Ethical Principles and Practices (15 Credits)
Gain an understanding of relevant fundamental legislative documents and their impact on ethical practice in an early childhood setting.

Early Childhood Practicum (15 Credits) (60 practicum hours)
Participate in authentic practical experiences within an early childhood setting, engaging with children, families/whānau and fellow educators.

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 2;


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


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 learners 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 completing 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 5.5 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 5.5 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).

 Advice & Guidance

Full attendance is encouraged to maximise learning opportunities and to optimise success for learners. Completion of this programme is required within three years of the date of first enrolment.

Work experience
Learners will be placed in an early childhood setting organised by UCOL to achieve the required 60 hours of practicum.

Work placements and successful completion of the programme are dependent on a satisfactory police check and the ability of UCOL to place learners successfully.

Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise a commitment of:

  • On-campus tutorials
  • Self-directed learning (your own time spent on research and study to complete your written assignments)
  • 60 hours of practicum placement

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.