Study towards your Chief Mate or Master certificate of competency

Diploma in Foreign-going Master or Chief (Level 7)

(Also known as Chief Mate or Master)

Programme highlights

Take charge as the Chief Mate or command of your ship as Master.

You'll develop specialist knowledge in the areas of safety of life at sea, safety of property at sea, and the integrity of the marine environment, crew, cargo and passengers. You will learn how to manage the cargo and the non-technical maintenance of the vessel. You will hold the position of responsibility of managing the ship’s records and administration. You will also learn the essential analytical and problem-solving skills to the level of command for either a foreign-going ship or managerial positions ashore.

Talented individuals can expect to progress quickly and receive good levels of pay, with the opportunity to explore the world’s most exotic locations.

This qualification leads to a Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) certificate. Expand for more detail.
To become a Chief Mate

You will need to complete the Diploma in Foreign-going Master or Chief (Level 7), including a minimum of 12 months sea time as a Watchkeeper Deck, before applying to MNZ for a:

Then you can take the next step to become the Master of your vessel

A minimum of 36 months sea time as a Watchkeeper Deck will enable you to apply to Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) for a:

Award of the MNZ Chief Mate or Master certificate of competency will also require the completion of:

  • Sea service
  • MNZ medical fitness certificate
  • Eyesight test (including for colour vision)
  • Fit and proper person check
  • Final exam
  • Ancillary certificates.

See for all requirements needed before you apply.

This is an internationally recognised programme, meeting the standards of the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) STCW code (Standard for Training and Certification for Watchkeepers), (regulation II/1).

Key facts

Start month(s)


Study location(s)

New Zealand Maritime School

Level 7
Domestic fees

$7,100 (approx.)

Click here to see individual course fees

Youth Guarantee (fees-free*)

Not available

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Programme code MN3832

Full-time for 1 year (36 teaching weeks), plus sea time.

Study method


Credits 120
International fees NZD$16,400 (approx.)
Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Scholarship (fees-free*)

Not available

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Qualification leads to

Diploma in Foreign-going Master or Chief (Level 7)

Entry requirements

Entry to the programme is restricted to
  1. Those students holding a  Watchkeeper deck Certificate of Competency issued by Maritime New Zealand or an overseas qualification recognised by MNZ as being equivalent; or
  2. Those students who have completed the academic components of the NZ2515 NZ Diploma in Nautical Science programme; or
  3. Those students holding a Marine Engineer Class 3 Certificate of Competency issued by Maritime New Zealand or an overseas qualification recognised by MNZ as being equivalent, and passes within the past five years in the Mathematics and Engineering Drawing courses of the revised Class 3 Certificate of Competency; or
  4. Those students who have completed the academic components of the NZ2514 New Zealand Diploma in Marine Engineering programme.
English language entry requirements

Applicants must have sufficient competence in the English language to undertake this programme, which is taught and assessed in English.

Any applicant whose first language is not English may be required to provide evidence of their English language competency.

International students: English language entry requirements

For the minimum English language requirements refer to the requirements set out in the NZQF Programme and Accreditation Rules

International students will generally be required to provide evidence of English language proficiency, for this programme an IELTS Academic score of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5 is required. Equivalent acceptable evidence can be seen at the following NZQA link:

Regulatory and other entry requirements

Students intending to pursue a seagoing career must produce evidence of having met the medical and eyesight/hearing standards currently in force by Maritime New Zealand. These are statutory requirements for working on vessels. Applicants must be physically capable of completing the programme.

Provisional entry

Students who have attained the age of 20 years and do not hold the minimum entry requirements for a programme or training scheme may be eligible to be enrolled. Such decisions must consider any applicable pre-requisites and will be made by the Head of School. Students who have not attained the age of 20 years and do not hold the required minimum entry requirements may also be eligible to be enrolled in exceptional circumstances where they can demonstrate capability for study at the required level. Such decisions must consider any applicable pre-requisites and will be made by the Head of School.

International students

Test your English level to help you plan.

Take our free online English test to get a basic indication of your English level. This will help you understand what programmes you can apply for and what preparation you may require before you start your programme of study.


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Programme structure

You will need to complete the below nine courses (120 credits):

Level 6

942.680 Vessel technical operations (10 credits)

To enable a student to determine, evaluate and respond to a vessels condition at management level.

942.681 Risk analysis and human factors (10 credits)

To enable students to analyse and manage risk on board a ship and manage people for the safe operation of the ship.

942.682 Maritime commercial practice and ship master’s business (15 credits)

To enable students to carry out responsibilities under international maritime law, embodied in national and international agreements and conventions that impact the commercial management of a ship.

942.683 Command meteorology (10 credits)

To enable students to evaluate, plan and execute the most effective, safe and efficient ocean and coastal voyage taking all climatological and meteorological elements into account.

Level 7

942.744 Manage maritime operations (15 credits)

To enable students to minimise cargo liability claims by creating, implementing and modifying voyage allocation plans, plan stowage and securing of cargo including ballast programmes, manage loading and discharging programmes and manage cargo security and care during voyage.

942.746 Navigation control and emergency response (15 credits)

To enable a student to manage navigational information derived from a range of sources in order to make and implement command decisions for safe navigation and for emergency response.

942.747 Manage safety and operations (Orals) (15 credits)

To enable students to operate ships safety under routine and emergency conditions.

942.748 Adjust compasses (15 credits)

To enable students to apply knowledge of magnetism to adjust the ships magnetic compasses and the theory of gyrocompasses to ensure safe passage.

942.749 Naval architecture (15 credits)

To enable students to evaluate and control the stability, trim and hull stresses of a vessel under all conditions and make management decisions regarding intact and damage stability conditions and ensure that the shear force and bending moments are within acceptable limits at all times.

Career opportunities

The chief officer or master on foreign-going ships. Shore-based leadership positions in the maritime cluster and port management, such as maritime pilots, marine managers, harbour masters, ship planners, cargo planners, accident investigators, maritime trainers and educators. For potential salaries visit

Further training or study

Postgraduate programmes.

MIT is becoming Te Pūkenga

Vocational education in Aotearoa is changing to better meet the needs of learners like you.

As part of this transformational change, MIT will next year become fully part of Te Pūkenga, a national network delivering skills training in a wide range of locations throughout Aotearoa. This means that while you’re applying with MIT now, from Semester 1, 2023 when you enrol you’ll become a Te Pūkenga learner.

The new system has the success and wellbeing of learners at its heart, and a review of all programmes is currently underway to help support this, including the programme that you’ve enrolled with. The aim is to make qualifications more portable, consistent and closely aligned with the needs of industry, and more in tune with where the world is headed.

As the programme review is ongoing, the courses outlined may be liable to change over time. Rest assured that we’ll notify you of any material changes to delivery that might impact what you’re studying, where you’re studying or the ways you’re learning.

Information is correct as at 18 August 2022. Programme fees are based on a full-time student and may vary depending on your final selection of courses that make up your programme. To provide you with an indication of costs, the approximate fees quoted in this publication are based on the indicative 2022 fee structure. The indicative programme fees for 2022 do not include the Compulsory Student Services Fee (CSSF). The CSSF is an additional levy to your 2022 programme or course fees. Further information about the CSSF can be found here Programmes stated as eligible for free study in 2022 are based on the 2021 fee structure and subject to funding confirmation for 2022. All fees are in New Zealand Dollars. You will be advised of the current fees at the time of enrolment. All courses and programmes will proceed subject to numbers and academic approval. Manukau Institute of Technology Limited is accredited under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020. International students must study in class and will not be able to enrol for online study options.