How does Medical School at Auckland and Otago compare to Australia?

I am at high school in New Zealand and have the chance to apply for med school in Australia - how does it compare to my NZ options?

Australia and New Zealand have a very similar medical system, and graduated doctors can work in either country without having to do any extra qualifying exams. In saying that, it can be difficult to get work as a doctor in the opposite country, given both countries prioritise local graduates higher - so it is important to make sure you make the right decision.

Entry Pathways

The most major difference between countries is their entry criteria for Medicine.

In NZ, high school students enter into a competitive first year University degree, where they are then ranked on their academics (GPA) and UMAT (as well as a Multiple Mini Interview for Auckland) in that year to determine whether they get into second year medical school. Students who have already completed a degree can apply directly to second year medical school based on their undergraduate GPA, UMAT and an Interview. For a more detailed comparison of Auckland Vs Otago, refer to this post here.

Meanwhile, Australia has a much wider range of medical schools, with a total of 16 which accept undergraduates, but a growing shift towards postgraduate medical schools. The Postgraduate entry requirements are a mixture of your undergraduate GPA, your GAMSAT score and an Interview. The Undergraduate entry in Australia are based on a mixture of high school ATAR scores (You can convert NCEA, IB and CIE grades to ATAR through these links), UMAT and Interviews, and have very competitive requirements for entry.

In general, your UMAT and ATAR need to exceed a threshold in order to be offered an interview, with an ATAR of 99.95 and a UMAT of over 92 percentile - you can get in with lower, but these are relatively safe scores to secure a few interviews. The exceptions which don’t require UMAT are the University of Sydney (Grades and Interview), Griffiths University (Grades only) and James Cook University (Grades and Interview) - though The University of Sydney is extremely competitive with grades, being one of the hardest Universities to get into.


In NZ, the medical degree is a total of 6 years for undergraduates coming out of High School. Postgraduate students study the final 5 years of medical school, so with a 3 year undergraduate degree, it would be a total of 8 years study time for the degree.

Australia’s medical schools range from 4 years to 7 years, with most of the postgraduate pathways being 4 years, and double degrees such as The University of Sydney’s double degree taking 7 years. The standard undergraduate degrees are mostly 5-6 years, so in general are similar to that for NZ.

Career Progression

NZ and Australian medical systems are similar with the career progression of doctors given they share the same Royal Colleges which accept doctors onto specialised training schemes, though Australia is generally thought to be more competitive in gaining a training scheme opportunity. This is largely because there are far more medical students graduating in Australia than the positions available as compared to NZ, so medical students/doctors must work harder to gain a similar job/position. The hours are therefore generally longer in Australia, and it is more difficult to stand out. However, given the competitive system, Australian doctors often are more knowledgeable on average, and senior doctors tend to hold more prestigious positions, particularly at the larger hospitals. The trade-off is therefore largely between hard-work and prestige Vs a more balanced lifestyle in NZ.