Design Schools


Ara Design School

Design skills are essential for New Zealand’s economic and cultural future. Our art and design programmes have been created to equip you with the skills you need to contribute to this future and to build a rewarding career for yourself in this exciting and diverse field. 

When you study with us, you’ll learn from passionate tutors and industry experts. You’ll focus on creating a portfolio of work that will set you apart in the job market and you’ll broaden your opportunities thanks to our strong focus on bi-cultural design.

Our deep connections with the fashion and design industries have led to highly relevant, real-world programmes and a high employment rate for our graduates. 

Bachelor; Ara has been offering a Bachelor of Design degree for twenty years, and quality design education for a lot longer. We have four specialisations, including Visual Communication, Applied Visual Arts, Motion Design and Fashion. In the Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication Design) you’ll learn how to generate ideas, solve problems and design innovative solutions in advertising, marketing and communication design. Our class sizes are small (15-20), and our tutors are both qualified and highly experienced. All our learners have the chance to engage in projects with external clients alongside learning core design skills like creative idea generation and iterative prototyping. 

Postgraduate; We offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Practice and a Master of Creative Practice, as well as a graduate diploma and graduate certificate in information design (both delivered online). The creative practice programmes are new, fit-for-purpose qualifications that are ideal for design creatives who want to refresh, develop and deepen their creative thinking toolbox. Both are taught by doctorate-qualified tutors.

Ara Graduates; Recent Graduate Sarah Cant said “Ara was really the only place I wanted to study design in Christchurch.” Our graduates are all over the industry – have you enjoyed a Lemmy Lemonade lately? One of our graduates designed the chirpy little citrus on the bottle.  See some of our recent graduates profiled in DA’s Hot New Things Series.

University of Auckland


AUT Art and Design School

AUT is the best place to study art and design to acquire the thinking and skills to ensure you develop a unique creative voice. You will be immersed in an environment where innovation and technology will fuel your creativity. Shared studio spaces, cutting-edge labs, experienced lecturers and industry contact provide the best environment for you to launch a career in the creative realm. Our major study areas include: communication (formerly graphic) design, digital design, fashion design, product design, spatial design, textile design and visual arts. We are ranked in the top 100 art and design schools in the world*. This prestigious ranking reflects the high quality of our programmes and staff, the employability of our graduates, and our recognition as a world leader in practice-led art and design research. Our programmes offer a balance of originality, creative and design thinking, and conceptual development, along with theoretical and professional studies. Our students work on industry partnered, or entrepreneurial art and design projects, and we challenge them to become socially and ethically engaged.

Bachelor; The Bachelor of Design is creative and practical, with strong input from industry partners like Weta Workshop, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Auckland Art Gallery, Creative New Zealand and Kate Sylvester. As a Bachelor of Design student you have access to world-class facilities, collaborate with other art and design students, and in your final year you may be able to showcase your work at the AUT School of Art and Design festival or the AUT Rookie fashion show.

Postgraduate; The Bachelor of Art and Design (Honours) is an intensive one-year degree that enables you to undertake research within the field of art and design. If your appetite for art and design has been stimulated by your undergraduate studies, it’s time to consider taking those studies further. Certificate in Cultural and Creative Practice; Explore ideas and concepts related to cultural expression in as little as one semester. Implement creative strategies while developing expertise related to your chosen field, contributing to a vibrant creative community and critiquing notions of leadership and entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative sector. Creative thinking will empower your decision-making and inform your professional encounters. The Master of Design is a research degree aimed at developing your design expertise and empowering your decision-making. Specialising in industrial design, fashion design and textile design, communication design, digital design or spatial design, you will work on interdisciplinary projects. Implementing creative research strategies, and continuing to develop expertise in your chosen field, you will contribute to a vibrant, collaborative design culture. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is t undertaken by research only and leads to advanced academic and theoretical knowledge in a specialist area. Doctoral studies present you with the opportunity to generate new ideas that can benefit business and society. You will make a significant original contribution to knowledge and understanding in your field of study and meet recognised international standards for your work. AUT’s academic supervisors are recognised world-class researchers in their fields who have the expert knowledge to guide and advise you throughout your PhD.

AUT Graduates; Recent AUT graduate Stephanie Zwerink said,“I chose AUT based on recommendations, ease of transport, and the facilities. Having the opportunity to select from a range of minor papers was great. It meant that I had the opportunity to explore digital fabrication techniques, dabble a bit in product design, and collaborate with students from other disciplines. I also learned a lot about design, obviously.” Learn more about our recent Graduates in these Hot New Things interviews or in these Postgraduate Design profiles with Tatiana Tavares, Cassie Khoo, and Albarrán González.


Media Design School

For over twenty years, the award-winning Media Design School in Auckland has been offering qualifications that speak to emerging media environments. Our faculty and students have cemented Media Design School’s reputation as New Zealand’s most awarded tertiary institute for digital and creative technology qualifications by creating work that is consistently regarded among the very best in the world not only in Graphic Design, but also Game ArtGame ProgrammingCreative AdvertisingMotion GraphicsInteractive Design, and 3D Animation and Visual Effects.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the creative arts community but you’re not sure which degree would suit you best, our foundation programme is a great way to discover which career in creative or digital design is for you.

In our purpose-built campus located in the innovation Precinct of Wynyard Quarter, Media Design School assists students to think globally and have opportunities beyond New Zealand. Through our unique relationship with Torrens University, Australia’s newest and fastest growing university, we focus on a commitment and promise to producing global graduates and strong industry connections, firmly rooted in a culture of social change-making, while sharing our strong Be Good ethos.

Bachelor; The evolving needs of creative industries are at the heart of development and delivery of our Bachelor of Media Design. Within three years, students develop technical, conceptual and strategic skills in their chosen major − Graphic Design, Motion Design or Interactive Online Design − as well as a broad interdisciplinary understanding of the industry and related fields making them agile in the workforce. The Bachelor of Media Design (in Graphic Design) teaches you how to communicate using text, image, and form to make visual connections. We will help cultivate your ideas into meaningful interactions.

Postgraduate; Graduate Diploma of Creative Technologies, In this course you’ll have one year to refine your craft – you’ll have the opportunity focus on your interests, if you are looking for a supportive hands-on learning environment that focuses on developing practical skills through working on self-initiated projects, then the Graduate Diploma of Creative Technologies (GDCT) is for you. The GDCT will help you further develop your production and design skills through project-based and problem-solution learning. You’ll investigate, propose and produce projects in the creative area of your choice that compliment your existing skill-set. As you choose your own research topic, you may opt to work across multiple disciplines, to broaden your skill base and increase your career options.

Media Design School Graduates; Recent graduate Dannah Soriano said “I chose MDS because of its reputation being the #1 digital school in Asia Pacific. And since it’s a relatively small institution, there’s a higher chance of being mentored outside class hours.” Graduates from our programmes go on to work in a diverse range of careers, depending on the focus. Hear what our graduates have to say about MDS in this Hot New Things feature.


Otago Polytechnic School of Design

Study one of the School of Design’s acclaimed design programmes and become an industry-ready, creative designer with great prospects for a successful career. Designers find innovative solutions to material, social and ecological problems. We are creative, confident and contribute to change. Immerse yourself in an innovative and supportive environment which allows you to engage in real-world projects, develop your individual voice as a designer and learn how to work in a design team. Take advantage of our strong international relationships, award-winning teaching expertise and first-rate facilities.

Bachelor; Communication Design encompasses a wide range of media and processes. Learn about key areas of Communication Design including graphic design, photography, advertising and web design, and gain the skills to pursue a career in a rapidly expanding global media environment. To tell stories through image, text, sound, moving image and interactive media.

Postgraduate; Bachelor of Design (Honours) If you have already achieved excellence in your undergraduate degree, this postgraduate qualification is a great opportunity to extend and deepen your knowledge and understanding of design research methods and professional design practice. Graduates of this programme will be well-prepared for further postgraduate study or employment in a design creative lead role. Master of Design This qualification allows you to develop a significant body of scholarly creative work which is presented in a public forum and supported by an exegesis or equivalent. Alternatively, you can complete this programme through a thesis which could form the basis of academic journal articles. Graduates will be well-prepared for doctoral-level study, an academic career or a lead design or design management role. Master of Design Enterprise Want to develop the ability to provide design and design-led strategy expertise within an organisation or enterprise? Engage in industry-based research tailored to suit your particular needs. Postgraduate Certificate in Design This qualification introduces you to postgraduate study in a guided learning environment. Extend and deepen your knowledge and understanding of design research methods and the professional design environment. Graduates will be well-prepared for further postgraduate study such as our Postgraduate Diploma in Design or Master of Design Enterprise qualifications, or for employment in a wide range of creative or design management roles. The Postgraduate Diploma in Design is ideal for graduates who want to extend and deepen their research skills and professional design practices through applied design research projects which are self-generated or developed with industry or community partners.


For the last 25 years Unitec has offered a learning experience for designers that has propelled our graduates to national and international acclaim. Within Unitec’s  Design and Contemporary Arts department, students are immersed in an evidence-based programme that links the facilities of the hand, the eye, and the brain, with industry experts, real world projects, and entrepreneurial conceptualization. Through our intimate cohort sizes, we prepare our graduates for the professional world on a one-to-one basis, ensuring that each graduate outcome is specifically and uniquely crafted to each student. We provide ample learning spaces and access to cutting-edge production technologies in realising each students’ creative intentions.

Bachelor; The Bachelor of Design and Contemporary Art is the key to turning your creativity and innovation into an exciting career in the art and design industry. With hands-on teaching and learning at the heart of this degree programme, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your practice through making and creating while developing the technical skills and expert knowledge you’ll need to land your dream job. Your first year of study will involve lots of discovery and experimentation. From there, you’ll build a specialist area of practice that draws inspiration from your unique creative abilities and lived experiences, while remaining ever-focused on learning through doing. You’ll be supported every step of the way by a team of expert professionals. They’ll help you develop the knowledge and skills required to excel in the industry, motivate you to step outside your creative comfort zone, consider different cultural perspectives – and try something new.  

Postgraduate; Within our Post Graduate programme we offer a year-long Diploma of Creative Practice and an 18-month Master of Creative Practice. Students are led on individual research-based projects as well as group taught components that cover research methodologies and critical comparative reading.

Unitec Graduates; Our recent Graduate Evandah Steadman said “The thing I liked about Unitec was – Yes, there are smaller classes, but it means there are more real-world opportunities per person. I took hold of every opportunity, and with the mentorship of my tutors I came out with a solid understanding of design, my own process, and real-world experience that I wouldn’t of had anywhere else.” Learn more about another of our recent graduates in this Hot New Things Feature


Victoria University of Wellington

At Victoria, Design is about innovation. While developing the skills and knowledge that industry currently demands, you’ll also be pushing the limits and, in a sense, forging the future of design practice.

Bachelor; The Bachelor of Design Innovation (BDI) is a three-year undergraduate degree designed to prepare you for a career in one of the many expanding design-related industries. During studio classes and seminars your teachers will show you how to take an experimental approach to design that encourages creative and thoughtful design solutions. You’ll major in one of six areas—Communication Design, Design for Social Innovation, Fashion Design Technology, Industrial Design, Interaction Design or Media Design. A feature of this degree is that it’s cross-disciplinary, meaning you’ll be encouraged to study and work with subject areas outside Design. This will make sure you gain a thorough grounding in design and its connections with the real world.

Postgraduate; Master of Design Innovation – MDI, Expand on your Bachelor’s degree and get a head start in your career with advanced study and research in design. Get the specialist skills and knowledge you need to be a successful professional in the design industry. In this three-trimester programme, you’ll learn the art of bringing ideas to life—from conception to design to construction. Choose one of three majors—Industrial Design, Media Design, and Design for Social Innovation—in this industry-focused, professional qualification with the School of Design. Assess new technologies and investigate the social, cultural, environmental and economic implications of design on our world.


Whitecliffe College is one of New Zealand’s highest ranked and awarded research institutions in the private sector and has a long-standing record of academic excellence.