Nursing an ambition?: University of Otago

Every now and then, stars align to form something completely wonderful: macaroni meets cheese, Fred Astaire meets Ginger Rogers, and the University of Otago Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies meets diverse and talented people wishing to change their career to the rewarding profession of nursing.



Entering the Master of Nursing Science simply requires a B average from the last two years of study from any degree! There is a pre-science course available if needed. Applicants from the four intakes to date have included teachers, lawyers, IT specialists and journalists, as well as those with science and human science degrees.

“The course is a brilliant marriage between people wishing to join the nursing profession from varied backgrounds, and the world-wide nursing shortage which is only growing with aging populations,” Academic Lead for the Masters of Nursing Science, Virginia Jones says.

Classroom learning, including the high-tech ‘Simulation Centre’, is handily located in Oxford Street, close to Christchurch Hospital. Students attend two days per week and undertake independent study on the other days. Clinical experience is undertaken in blocks, usually of five weeks, in Christchurch and all over the South Island.


“We refer to it as ‘grow your own,’” Virginia says. “Students can complete clinical placements where they live, perhaps in districts around the South Island and commute to Christchurch for the class days.”

The course generates great peer support and learning – varied backgrounds and maturity of students mean the courses are rich in interdisciplinary learning. “I love their diversity and they are an asset to the profession because of the life experience they bring,” Virginia says.

The intensive programme takes just two years and is completed by sitting the ‘State Final’ exam. All graduates have passed and gained rewarding jobs in diverse clinical settings across New Zealand, and are also eligible to work in Australia. For new science graduates, the Masters of Nursing Science turns a degree into a profession, with great job opportunities and pathways within the profession.


Employers find Masters graduates have great critical thinking and reasoning skills, combined with maturity. The first course of its kind in New Zealand, it remains the only one in the South Island and, with a sky-high reputation, the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies is ranked in the top 100 globally.

Anyone who wanted to nurse but was dissuaded can fulfil a dream, and those who stepped out of their role to raise a family and want to re-enter a professional role will find the Masters in Nursing is a door wide open. Graduate Roy Britten was a software engineer, but wanted more contact with people. Retraining via the Master of Nursing Science in his mid-forties, he found the course offered an exceptionally high level of support. Qualifying in two rather than three years meant he was without an income for a shorter period of time. “That’s a big deal when you’ve got a family.”

Attaining this degree will open other career opportunities in clinical nursing, nursing leadership, Nurse Practitioner roles, nursing education and research. Enrolments for 2020 are now open, visit




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