Postgraduate studies play a crucial role in shaping individuals’ careers, expanding their knowledge, and contributing to advancements in various fields. In Australia, graduate degrees hold significant importance as they provide specialized expertise, advanced skills, and a competitive edge in the job market.
Whether it’s unravelling the mysteries of the universe through astrophysics or driving groundbreaking research in medicine, postgraduate studies in Australia offer a transformative experience and endless opportunities.
If you’re interested in pursuing postgraduate studies Down Under, this article will provide you with comprehensive information about how this level of education operates within the Australian education system.
What Is a Postgraduate Degree?
First, let’s establish what a postgraduate degree entails and how it compares to undergraduate studies.
A postgraduate degree is an advanced academic qualification pursued after completing undergraduate studies. It provides specialized knowledge and skills in a specific field.
The main types include master’s degrees, doctoral degrees (Ph.D.), and graduate certificates/diplomas.
Postgraduate degrees offer specialized expertise, career advancement opportunities, research prospects, and personal development.
The duration and requirements vary between programs and institutions.
Postgraduate Studies in Australia According to the Australian Qualifications Framework
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is a national policy administered by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills, and Employment. It sets the standards for educational qualifications in Australia, including undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. Developed in consultation with states and territories, the AQF encompasses credentials from all areas of education and training into one framework.
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) encompasses 10 levels that cover a wide range of educational qualifications. These levels are structured to represent the progression of knowledge, skills, and complexity of learning outcomes. In terms of higher education qualifications, they are typically found within levels 5 to 10 of the AQF.
Postgraduate qualifications in Australia are classified and defined by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) within levels 8 to 10. Here’s a breakdown of these levels:
|AQF Level||Qualification||Degree Level|
|10||Higher Doctoral Degree||Postgraduate|
|9||Masters Degree (Research)||Postgraduate|
|9||Masters Degree (Coursework)||Postgraduate|
|9||Masters Degree (Extended)||Postgraduate|
A graduate certificate is a postgraduate coursework qualification at level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). This qualification allows you to supplement your previous studies without the long-term commitment of a full degree. Many students choose to pursue a graduate certificate after completing their undergraduate degree, such as a bachelor’s degree.
The graduate certificate is a focused program that can be completed in a relatively short period, typically one semester of studies full-time (6 months) or equivalent part-time. The condensed timeframe enables you to quickly acquire specialized knowledge and skills that can be applied directly to your professional pursuits or personal interests.
In addition to standalone programs, universities often offer graduate certificates as a pathway for individuals to advance towards a graduate diploma or a master’s degree.
As an example, here are some graduate certificates offered by Australian higher education institutions:
|The University of Sydney||Graduate Certificate in Commerce||6 months full-time||27,000 AUD|
|Macquarie University||Graduate Certificate of Digital Finance||6 months full-time||22,500 AUD|
|RMIT University||Graduate Certificate in Fashion (Entrepreneurship)||6 months full-time||19,200 AUD|
A graduate diploma in Australia is a postgraduate coursework qualification that provides individuals with specialized knowledge and advanced skills in a particular field or discipline. It is classified at level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
A graduate diploma program typically requires a longer duration compared to a graduate certificate, usually involving one year (or two semesters) of full-time study or its part-time equivalent. The program consists of a more comprehensive curriculum that delves deeper into the subject matter, offering a broader range of specialized courses or units.
The main difference between a graduate diploma and a graduate certificate is the increased depth and breadth of study. While a graduate certificate focuses on acquiring foundational knowledge and skills, a graduate diploma allows individuals to develop a more extensive understanding of their chosen field. It typically requires the completion of around eight units or courses and may also include a research component.
Below you will find some examples of graduate diploma programs offered in Australian universities:
|Australian National University||Graduate Diploma of Computing||1 year full-time||33,168 AUD|
|The University of Melbourne||Graduate Diploma in Urban Horticulture||1 year full-time||46,976 AUD|
|Monash University||Graduate Diploma of Laws||1 year full-time||48,600 AUD|
Masters Degree (Extended)
A master’s degree (extended) is a specialized postgraduate qualification designed to provide in-depth preparation for professional practice in specific fields such as law, medicine, physiotherapy, speech pathology, social work, and others. These programs are tailored to equip students with comprehensive knowledge and advanced skills relevant to their chosen professional area.
Typically, a master’s degree (extended) program lasts for 3 to 4 years when pursued on a full-time basis. It goes beyond the standard duration of a traditional master’s degree, allowing for a more extensive and in-depth study of the subject matter. This extended duration provides students with additional training, practical experience, and a deeper understanding of their profession.
Master’s degree (extended) programs have varying names across disciplines. In law, it may be known as Juris Doctor (JD), but it doesn’t grant the title of ‘doctor’. In fields like medicine or dentistry, it may be called ‘Doctor of …’, allowing graduates to use the title ‘Doctor’ (Dr.) if customary.
However, Master’s degree (extended) programs are not equivalent to doctorate degrees. Official documents clarify that it is a master’s degree (extended), not a doctoral degree.
Here are a few examples of master’s degree (extended) programs:
|The University of Sydney||Doctor of Physiotherapy||3 years full-time||Unspecified|
|Curtin University||Master of Information Science (Extended)||2 years full-time||Unspecified|
Masters Degree (Coursework)
A master’s degree (coursework) in Australia is a postgraduate qualification that focuses on advanced knowledge and skills in a specific field. It is a program designed for professionals who want to enhance their expertise and practical abilities in their chosen area of study. In this type of program, students complete a series of core and elective units by attending classes, completing assignments, and sometimes taking exams.
The duration of the program can vary, typically ranging from one to two years of full-time study. Unlike a research-based Master’s degree, which focuses on independent research and a thesis, a master’s degree (coursework) primarily emphasizes coursework and practical applications of knowledge. However, some programs may incorporate a minor research component or project as part of the course requirements.
Here are some examples of master’s degree (coursework) programs in Australia:
|The University of Queensland||Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing||Available in 1 or 1.5 years full-time||36,000 AUD per year|
|The University of Adelaide||Master of Mathematical Sciences||2 years full-time||48,000 AUD per year|
|The University of Newcastle Australia||Master of Health Economics, Management and Policy||1.5 years full-time||40,040 AUD per year|
Masters Degree (Research)
A master’s degree by research is a postgraduate qualification that emphasises independent research and scholarly work in a specific field or discipline. It is designed for individuals who have a strong interest in conducting original research and making a significant contribution to their field of study.
These programs focus on developing research skills, critical thinking, and analytical abilities. Students are expected to conduct their own investigations, collect and analyze data, and produce a substantial thesis or dissertation that presents their research findings.
This degree is typically undertaken after the completion of a bachelor’s degree or a bachelor’s honours degree. The duration of a master’s degree (research) varies. However, it typically takes two years full-time or a part-time equivalent.
It’s important to note that a master’s degree (research) is distinct from a master’s degree by coursework, as it places a greater emphasis on independent research rather than coursework-based learning. This degree often serves as a stepping stone for individuals who wish to pursue further studies at the doctoral level (Ph.D.).
Australian higher education institutions offer a diverse range of research master’s degree programs. Here are a few examples:
|The University of Western Australia||Master of Architecture (Design) (Research)||2 years full-time||77,600 AUD|
|University of Technology Sydney||Master of Science (Research)||2 years full-time||88,480 AUD|
|Curtin University||Master of Philosophy (Health Studies)||2 years full-time||72,000 AUD|
Doctoral Degree (Level 10)
A doctoral degree in Australia is one of the highest levels of academic qualifications offered by universities. It is a rigorous research program designed for individuals who aim to make a significant contribution to knowledge and research in their field of study.
There are two main types of doctoral degrees:
- The doctoral degree (research), and
- The doctoral degree (professional).
This type of program typically lasts for 3 to 4 years and requires you to have completed a master’s degree prior to enrollment. A doctoral degree involves conducting original research, producing a well-structured thesis, and contributing to the understanding and advancement of knowledge in the chosen field.
It is a prestigious qualification that prepares individuals for advanced research, academic, or professional roles.
Check out some examples of doctoral degree programs offered by Australian universities:
|The University of Western Australia||Doctor of Architecture (Design)||3 years full-time||114,300 AUD|
|Queensland University of Technology (QUT)||Doctor of Education||3 years full-time||29,000 AUD per year full-time|
|Australian National University||Doctor of Philosophy, ANU College of Law||4 year full-time||46,680 per year full-time|
Higher Doctoral Degree (Level 10)
In Australia, a higher doctorate is an esteemed academic qualification awarded to scholars who have demonstrated exceptional contributions to their field of expertise. It serves as formal recognition of their substantial and distinguished achievements in advancing knowledge and understanding.
A higher doctorate goes beyond the standard Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) and is typically awarded after a candidate has already obtained a doctoral degree. It acknowledges the individual’s significant scholarly accomplishments, usually based on their published work, which is evaluated by national and international experts in the field.
The assessment for a higher doctorate in Australia emphasizes the candidate’s originality, depth of knowledge, and the impact of their research contributions. The evaluation process considers the candidate’s substantial and distinguished body of work, along with their standing and reputation within the academic community.
Here are two examples of higher doctorate titles offered by Australian universities:
|The University of Melbourne||Doctor of Visual and Performing Arts||1 year||39,488 AUD|
|The University of Queensland||Doctor of Engineering (DEng)||Unspecified||Tuition fees do not apply for Higher Doctorates.|
* All fees presented above are indicative and apply only to international students.
Entry Requirements for Postgraduate Studies in Australia
The entry requirements for postgraduate studies in Australia can vary depending on the university, program, and level of study. Generally, to be eligible for postgraduate studies, you would need to meet the following requirements:
- Bachelor’s Degree. Most postgraduate programs require applicants to hold a recognized bachelor’s degree or an equivalent qualification. The bachelor’s degree should typically be in a related field to the postgraduate program you wish to pursue.
- Grade Point Average (GPA). Universities often have minimum GPA requirements for entry into postgraduate programs. This may vary across institutions and programs, but a competitive GPA is usually expected.
- English Language Proficiency. For international students, demonstrating English language proficiency is essential. You may need to provide proof of English language proficiency through recognized tests such as the IELTS or TOEFL unless you are exempt based on your previous education or other criteria. Typically, a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5 is typically required, with no individual band score below 6.0 or another test score that is equivalent.
- Relevant Work Experience. Some professional or specialized postgraduate programs may require applicants to have relevant work experience in the field. This is particularly common for programs such as MBA (Master of Business Administration) or Master’s in Professional Practice.
- Specific Program Requirements. Certain programs may have additional requirements, such as submission of a portfolio, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, or completion of prerequisite courses.
Application Process for Postgraduate Studies in Australia
The application process is an essential step when pursuing postgraduate studies in Australia. This crucial phase determines your eligibility for admission into the program of your choice. From researching and selecting the right program to submitting the necessary documents, the application process requires careful attention and preparation.
It is important to note that the application process may vary slightly between universities, so it is advisable to refer to the specific instructions and guidelines provided by the institutions you are applying to.
However, in general, the application process for postgraduate studies in Australia typically involves the following steps:
- Research and choose a program.
- Check application deadlines.
- Review entry requirements.
- Prepare application materials, such as transcripts, language test scores, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and resume/CV.
- Submit the completed application and supporting documents online or by mail.
- Pay any required application fees.
- Track the application status.
- Await the admission decision.
- Accept the offer and enroll in the program.
Graduate Employability in Australia
Postgraduate studies in Australia can do wonders for your employability! Getting a postgraduate qualification shows that you have advanced skills, specialized knowledge, and expertise in your chosen field. This makes you stand out in the job market and opens up exciting opportunities for career growth.
The universities in Australia are top-notch when it comes to education quality and preparing graduates for successful careers. They have fantastic connections with industries, which means you can benefit from internships, work placements, and networking opportunities. These hands-on experiences not only give you practical skills but also help you build professional networks that can boost your chances of landing a job after graduation.
In fact, according to a 2022 survey, an impressive 91.5 percent of graduates secured full-time employment within three years of completing their studies, with a median salary of $80,000 a year. These numbers not only demonstrate the positive employment prospects and attractive earning potential resulting from postgraduate studies in Australia but also indicate a growth from the previous year’s 88.9 percent of graduates with full-time employment.
From enhancing your expertise and knowledge to boosting employability and earning potential, a postgraduate degree can set you on a path to success. We hope to have answered all of your questions regarding postgraduate studies in Australia. We look forward to witnessing your exciting postgraduate journey in Australia soon!