Post Graduate Studies
The Australian education system is determined by a unique program known as the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). This system is primarily based on the United Kingdom system of education, but is a lot more detailed. Tertiary education is separated into a variety of levels, based on the amount of education that a student needs for their careers.
There are ten different levels in the tertiary education system in Australia. We cover the first 7 levels (and part of the 8th level) in our article about undergraduate education. The first seven levels include vocational, technical, associates, and bachelor’s level degrees. The 8th level contains both undergraduate aspects and graduate aspects, and levels 9 and 10 are postgraduate education programs only.
Here is a quick overview of each of the AQF levels. We do this so that you can better understand them before pursuing your postgraduate tertiary education in Australia.
Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas (Level 8). Graduate certificates and graduate diplomas in Australia take approximately one year after earning a Bachelor level degree (level 7). Whether you have a certificate or a diploma is dependent only on the school; there is no real difference between each. After you complete a certificate or diploma at level 8, you will have the skills you need for advanced job positions or for further postgraduate education.
Some people will choose to pursue a graduate certificate to obtain a graduate level education without the time commitment and energy or because they are not pursuing an academic endeavor. They may also pursue a graduate certificate because they are considering a change in career or desire to pursue a Master’s degree in a field that is not related to their Bachelor’s degree.
Note: For more information about the Level 8 Undergraduate Honours Degree, please see our page about undergraduate education. You can find more information about Level 8 Honours Degrees there.
Master’s Degrees (Level 9). Master’s degrees are one of the higher levels of postgraduate education. These degrees are usually focused on research and academia instead of advancement in the work force. You will likely see those who are already employed in Master’s degree programs.
If you pursue a Master’s degree, you will have more of a focus on your chosen field of study than you did during your bachelor’s studies. This is the case because there are no general education requirements related to the degree. It takes approximately two years of study (after earning your Bachelor’s degree) for you to obtain a Master’s level degree. Many people take on a Masters degree in order to pursue employment in a research field or to go on and receive a doctorate level degree.
Doctorate Degrees (Level 10). Doctorate degrees are the highest level of education that you can receive in the world. This is the 10th level in Australia’s AQF system, and can include PhD’s, M.D.’s, DPT’s, law degrees, DDS’s, and a variety of other degrees, each named for the profession(s) that they degree is related to.
At the end of your doctoral studies, you are considered to have the highest level of expertise that you can have in your selected field. Many people with doctorates either work in a medical profession, do research, or work in an academic setting like a college or university as a professor. Doctoral degrees can take anywhere from 3 to 6 years to complete, based on factors such as your current employment status, what field you are studying, and how long it takes to complete your dissertation.
If you are curious about the Australian Qualifications Framework and how it may affect your education plan as an international student, make sure to take a look at the AQF’s webpage. They have a lot more detailed information about the program there and can answer many of your questions.
Are you considering doing your postgraduate studies in Australia? Gradschools.com and FindaMasters.com can all help you look around and find a graduate school in Australia that fits your needs. There are literally hundreds of graduate programs and dozens of schools for you to choose from. Australia is one of the best countries in the world to obtain your postgraduate education, so it’s definitely worth taking a look.