Otago Polytechnic

Human and Community Services



With a strong emphasis on fieldwork placements and industry-relevant training, our Human and Community Services programmes teach you exactly what to expect when you enter the workforce. Give your career a kick-start by making use of our extensive networks, forging important industry relationships and learning from highly experienced teachers.


Bachelor of Social Services (with specialties in Career Practice, Counselling, Disability Support and Coordination or Mental Health Support)

  • Dunedin
  • Three years full-time*
  • Level 7
  • Starts February
  • Apply until start date

Want to become a counsellor, career practitioner or work in the social services, disability or mental health services? This degree programme will give you the necessary skills to be a capable and confident social services professional working in New Zealand.

Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Career Practice), (Disability Support and Coordination) or (Mental Health Support)

  • Dunedin on campus or through our Assessment of Prior Learning Centre (Capable NZ)
  • One year full-time; three years part-time
  • Level 7
  • Starts Capable NZ - flexible start | On campus - February 2022
  • Apply until start date

Want to broaden your Bachelor of Social Services degree with a second specialty? Or add a focused specialty to a generic degree? This one-year programme will enable you to gain a vocational specialty by working with clients and studying professional practice and theory. Upon successful completion, you will graduate with either a Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Career Practice), Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Disability), or a Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Mental Health).

New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4): Fully-funded via TTAF

  • Dunedin or online
  • One year full-time; two years part-time
  • Level 4
  • Starts February 2021 (our 2021 intake is full, please register your interest for 2022)
  • Apply before 31 January

Are you a compassionate, open minded and optimistic person? Do you value manaaki, whanaungatanga and partnership? Aligned with local and industry needs and national strategies, this programme will provide you with the practical knowledge and skills you need for support work in social service, disability or mental health and addiction settings. You will choose to specialise in Community Facilitation, Mental Health and Addiction, or Social Services. Our graduates have a high employment rate and many are offered work during or after their fieldwork placements in the second semester.

Health Bridging Certificate (Level 3 and 4)

  • Dunedin or online with compulsory block courses
  • One year full-time or two years part-time
  • Level 3 and 4
  • Starts February
  • Apply now (our Dunedin on campus option is full)

Don’t have the academic requirements you need to enter one of our diploma- or degree-level healthcare programmes? No problem. By studying courses such as Function of the Human Body and an Introduction to Careers in Health, you will be well-prepared to apply for your chosen diploma or degree. This programme is made up of two qualifications - the New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 3) with a health context and the New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 4) with a health context.

New Zealand Certificate in Whānau Ora (Level 3): Fully-funded via TTAF

  • Kokiri Centre (51 Macandrew Road, Dunedin)
  • Twenty weeks full-time (five days a week)
  • Level 3
  • Starts February and July
  • Apply anytime

Arai Te Uru Kokiri Centre and Otago Polytechnic have developed this programme to train whanau and support workers to understand how to support each other and to uplift, listen to and help each other be successful. Graduates of this qualification will be able to work under supervision to apply knowledge of Māori philosophies and theories of Māori wellbeing. This qualification will prepare you for entry level work caring for or supporting people, from youth to adulthood.

Te Taketake Diploma in Applied Addictions Counselling (Level 7): Fully-funded via TTAF

  • Dunedin or Rotorua
  • Two years; part-time
  • Level 7
  • Starts March
  • Apply by 15 November

Offered through the Moana House Training Institute, this qualification will enable you to take up a professional role within the mental health and addictions sector. It is recognised by DAPAANZ (Drug and Alcohol Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa–New Zealand), the relevant professional body for addictions practitioners, and upon successful completion you can apply for professional registration with DAPAANZ.

OSTC Sport, Exercise and Health (Level 2)

  • Dunedin
  • Starts anytime
  • Apply anytime

Do you have a passion for helping people achieve their goals? Then our introduction to Health and Wellbeing programme could be for you! In this programme you’ll gain a variety of experiences that will enable you to try out a number of industries.

OSTC Sport Exercise and Health (Level 3)

  • Dunedin
  • Starts anytime
  • Apply anytime

Interested in Sport, Exercise and Health? Develop and implement your own personal exercise programme using the Otago Polytechnic Gym, learn about running a Fitness Centre, study nutritional imbalances and how they relate to health and discover how to plan and deliver coaching sessions to local primary school students.

OSTC Police Pathway (Level 3)

  • Dunedin and Cromwell
  • Starts anytime
  • Apply anytime

Thinking about a career in the Police? Then this course is the perfect taster to see if it's right for you! Gain an understanding of the knowledge, skills, attributes and attitudes associated with the Police and explore the physical and leadership requirements required to become a Police Officer. In addition, you'll complete the content of the 12-week distance learning component of the New Zealand Police application process (so you won't have to do that again if you do choose to apply!)