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Institute of Technology or Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic
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Graduate Diploma in Design (Specialty)

This course is available


Level of Study

Graduate Certificate or Diploma


1 year

Next start date



Looking to achieve an applied qualification in a specialist area to complement your existing design degree or experience? Perhaps you are a professional designer or practitioner wishing to develop practical skills and studio project experience to build on your existing knowledge?

Either way, this programme provides the ideal solution. New Zealand's future is being designed by people like you! Play your part by designing new products, innovating ideas, tackling social issues and creating commercial success. As the global population increases so does the demand for clever and practical designers to find solutions to material problems. Designers work in a broad range of creative areas and your skills will be highly valued by a variety of companies. A design qualification will open the doors to an endless array of opportunities. You may find yourself in an exciting industry you never imagined (it might not even exist yet)!

Within your specific discipline area - Communication, Fashion or Product - you will initially focus on a series of first and second year Bachelor of Design courses to complement and enhance your existing abilities and to help you meet your individual goals. The skills you develop will then be applied during your selected third year courses and within your final projects which could include film-making, fashion communication or accessory design. Choose to study at one of New Zealand's most innovative and progressive design schools and benefit from our modern workshop facilities, strong links with the local, national and international design community and the chance to showcase your creative talent through numerous talks, exhibitions and events.

The July intake is available for students in the following specialties (Communication or Fashion).

Skills required

  • A passion for your focused area of design.
  • The ability to see an idea through from concept to reality.
  • Research and practical ability to function at year three level study.
  • The ability to communicate your ideas to others.
  • An interest in people and the world around you.
  • The ability to work in teams and individually.

Further study options

Hone your skills further with our postgraduate programmes in Design or Art, or expand your career prospects with our graduate teaching programmes.

Your workload

It is expected that you will have strong independent learning skills and work habits for this qualification. Individual workloads will vary depending on your chosen study pathway.

Qualification structure

You will enrol into the Graduate Diploma in Design (Specialty) within ONE of the following Specialties - Communication, Fashion, Product or Interiors. All of the courses you select must be drawn from your specific discipline area within the Bachelor of Design programme - you cannot mix and match across specialties.

In consultation with the Academic Leader, you will select courses which best meet your individual requirements. For example, within the Communication specialty, you may choose to pursue a graphic design focus or a film making focus. You will choose first and second year Bachelor of Design courses to develop your skills and will then use these skills in your final projects within your selected third year courses.

The criteria for a graduate diploma require at least 72 out of 120 credits to be at Level 7 (year 3). The remaining credits can be drawn from Level 5 (year 1) and Level 6 (year 2) courses to support the Level 7 learning.

Entry criteria

Students must hold a recognised undergraduate degree in a design- or art-related field OR equivalent professional or scholarly experience.

International students must hold a recognised bachelor's degree in a design- or art-related field or equivalent practical, professional or scholarly experience.

If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0, with no less than 5.5 in any band.

TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT): Score of 550 (with an essay score of 5 TWE)

TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT): Score of 60 (with a writing score of 18)

Cambridge English Assessments: B2 First, or B2 First for schools, or C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill;

Pearson Test of English (Academic): PTE (Academic) score of 50 with no band score lower than 42

Language Certificate: C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill

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