What is A Postgraduate Education (Degree) in Australia?

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Students want to know what a postgraduate degree, qualification, or education is in Australia.


If you're considering postgraduate education in Australia, you have the option to select either a teaching-focused or a research-oriented program.


This blog reveals everything you need to know about pursuing postgraduate education in Australia, including qualifications and degrees.



1. Types of Postgraduate Qualifications in Australia


In Australia, you can choose from two types of postgraduate degrees: coursework (which focuses on theories and exams) and research (which involves practical challenges and a unique dissertation).


Different universities in Australia provide these postgraduate qualifications.



Postgraduate Research Qualifications:


  • Master's degree (by research)

  • Research Doctorate (PhD)



Postgraduate Coursework Qualifications:


  • Graduate Certificate

  • Graduate Diploma

  • Master's Degree (by Coursework)

  • Master's Degree (Extended)

  • Doctorate



2. Benefits of Pursuing Postgraduate Education in Australia


Here are some advantages of pursuing postgraduate studies in Australia:


  • Australian Universities focus on enhancing the student's leadership skills and personalities.

  • Students get both practical and theoretical knowledge, making them experts in their field of study. 

  • Students get a chance to do an internship with Australian companies, which helps them to gain extensive industry experience. 

  • Some students even get the opportunity to work permanently with many Australian multinational companies immediately after graduating from university. 

  • Being in a multicultural country, students obtain a better insight into different working environments of different countries from other students. 



3. Eligibility Criteria For Postgraduate Studies in Australia


You can enrol in Australia's postgraduate program only if you have a bachelor's degree in the corresponding field when you apply. 


The Australian Framework must recognise if you have obtained a bachelor's degree in your home country. In that case, the Australian university you've chosen will ask you to first sit in a preparatory course. 



4. Entry Requirements 


Entry requirements may vary, depending on your nationality and the course of your choice.


You must prove your language proficiency if English is not your first language. At the same time, students from English-speaking countries don't need to provide any English language tests.


Also, the documents required to be submitted vary as per the course level you want to apply. For instance, applying for a doctorate requires more documents than a master's degree program. 



Here Is A List of Documents Needed For Enrolling In a Postgraduate Program:


  • A bachelor's degree (recognised by the Australian Framework)

  • Letter of motivation or relevant references

  • Proof of English language proficiency

  • Work experience (if available)

  • Certificate of your grades

  • Personal identification documents



5. Postgraduate Fees in Australia


Australian universities fees for international students differ, depending on the university and the course you choose. 


On average, annual tuition fees for master's degrees range between AUD $20,000 to $40,000 and AUD $15,000 to $40,000 for doctoral degrees. 


It's important to note that these are estimated figures and may vary from one institute to another. Veterinary and medicine study programs have higher tuition fees.



6. What Is a Postgraduate Degree in Australia?


Postgraduate qualifications comprise a range of qualifications such as:


  • Level 8: Bachelor (Honours) Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma

  • Level 9: Master's Degree

  • Level 10: Doctoral Degree



Graduate Certificate - 6 Months Full-time


  • It is a highly-regarded short postgraduate qualification that consists of four subjects.

  • It gives you specialised theoretical and technical knowledge and a competitive advantage over undergraduate degree holders in a given field. 

  • Ideal for experienced individuals in a specific field of study and those who wish to diversify or uplevel their knowledge base.



Graduate Diploma - 12 months Full-Time/18 months part-time


  • It is an advanced qualification that offers in-depth to students in their chosen field. 

  • They are practical and hands-on ways of learning and serve as a pathway toward further study.

  • Less intensive than a Master's degree, they are a great way to diversify your knowledge base or enter a new sector within your area. 

  • Postgraduate diplomas are ideal to balance your work and study.



Master's Degree - 2 Years Full-Time


  • Master's degrees can be coursework or research-based.

  • It gives you advanced knowledge of a specialist field and helps build authority and expert skills in your chosen field.

  • It is a highly regarded qualification among employers as it involves applying critical thinking to real-world situations.  



Doctoral Degree


  • It is the highest-level tertiary qualification divided into - professional doctorates and PhDs. 

  • Both help generate original ideas and develop main concepts in the area f study.

  • PhDs redefine existing knowledge and provide complex and advanced understandings in an academic field.

  • Professional doctorates are the highest of all Australian qualification levels. They make a significant contribution to advancing professional practice. 



7. What Grade Is a Postgraduate Certificate?


The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) states that a postgraduate certificate lies at Level 8 in the qualification hierarchy table. 


Higher Education
Post Graduate    
Level 10   
Doctoral Degree (PhD)   
Level 9   
Master’s Degree   

Level 8

Graduate Certificate
Graduate Diploma   
Level 7   
Bachelor’s Degree   
Vocational Education

Level 6   
Advanced Diploma   
Associate Degree   
Level 5   
Level 4   
Certificate IV   
Level 3   
Certificate III   
Level 2   
Certificate II   
Level 1   
Certificate I   




8. Which is Better, Postgraduate or Master's?


Postgraduate qualification includes Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, coursework Master's degree, and research Master's degree.


To understand whether a Master's is better than a postgrad qualification, we must compare the former against the latter:



Course Duration


Graduate Certificate

6 months (full-time) to 2 years (part-time)

Graduate Diploma

1 year (full-time) to 4 years (part-time)

Master's Degree

1.5 or 2 years (full-time) or part-time equivalent



Graduate Certificate vs. Master's Degree


A graduate certificate is a shorter qualification than a Master's degree. You can complete it in 6 months (full-time) and two years (part-time).


However, investing extra time in a Master's degree is beneficial as it is highly worthwhile. Employers are more likely to value students with a Master's degree than a Graduate Certificate. 


Studying for a Graduate Certificate can be beneficial if:


  • You wish to update or extend your industry skills and knowledge.

  • You want to specialise in a niche field of your organisation.

  • You plan for a career change and want to learn about a new industry without committing much time to studies.

  • A Graduate Certificate is beneficial for newbies who are still determining their chosen field. Its flexible study format allows them to study the course while gaining foundational skills or advancing seamlessly into a Graduate Diploma in the same area.



Graduate Diploma vs. Master's Degree


A graduate diploma takes half the time you would require to complete a Master's degree. When comparing the two, a Master's degree is more prestigious and delivers more in-depth knowledge than a Graduate diploma.


However, a Graduate diploma can be a noteworthy accreditation if:


  • You wish to gain industry knowledge to get a senior role promotion.

  • You want a degree with more weightage than a graduate certificate but can't devote the time needed to complete a full master's program. 

  • You want to explore a new specialty or career path and proceed into a relevant master's degree if you are interested in studying more in that field. A Graduate diploma can be a stepping stone towards a master's degree. 



Coursework Master's Degree vs. Research Master's Degree


If you are driven more academically than professionally and wish to contribute to a specialist area of interest via research, then a research Master's is ideal for developing work-ready skills and knowledge.


You may consider exploring the following options, such as:


  • a Master's by research

  • a Doctorate 


On the other hand, study for a master's program if:


  • you know gaining this formal accreditation will help in your career advancement

  • you want to be known as a subject expert among employers and colleagues 

  • you wish to get in-depth knowledge in the field that interests you while exploring new professional opportunities.

  • It is an academically stronger qualification and can be a pathway to pursuing advanced studies like a PhD.


Whether you choose a coursework Master's or research Master's qualification, it will distinguish you as a knowledgeable and skilled person in your chosen area.



9. Popular Postgraduate Courses in Australia


Australian universities offer several postgraduate courses. Thus, irrespective of your academic interests, you'll find something that fits you.


Below are the most popular study areas in Australia that you can enrol in:




10. Frequnetly Asked Questions (FAQs)



What is The Difference Between Postgraduate and Graduate Education?


Both terms are used interchangeably, and there is no real difference between them.


Like a graduate qualification, postgraduate refers to a range of higher degrees after you complete the undergraduate degree. It includes Master's degrees and Ph.D.s.



Is a Graduate Certificate Worth It?


A graduate certificate is a focused qualification that provides expertise in a specific area. Serving as a quicker and more cost-effective alternative to a Master's degree, it usually takes just one semester.

With a specialised focus on practical skills over theoretical knowledge, this certification enhances your abilities and credibility, potentially leading to a higher salary. Additionally, it opens doors to professional networking and mentorship opportunities for advancing your career.



Best Candidates For a Graduate Certificate:


  • Recent Graduates: If you've just finished your Bachelor's degree, these short programs can boost your resume and help you connect with other professionals.

  • New Employees: If you're starting in a particular industry, getting a graduate certificate shows your commitment to learning. This can lead to higher pay or promotions.

  • Career Changers: Changing your career? A graduate certificate in your new field can teach you important words and skills to strengthen your resume.



Is a PhD Considered A Postgraduate Degree?


Yes. You can organise Postgraduate Qualifications into:


  • Postgraduate Research Qualifications

  • Postgraduate Coursework Qualifications


PhD or Research Doctorate comes under Postgraduate Research Qualifications.



Is a Postgraduate Degree The Same as a Master's?


Yes, a postgraduate degree in Australia includes different qualifications for people who finished university, like Honours degrees, Graduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas, Master's degrees, and Doctorates.



Is it Worth Doing A Postgraduate Course?


Engaging in postgraduate study is a strategic investment in your future. This qualification is optimal whether you aim for a workplace promotion, desire to broaden your skills and knowledge or aspire to advance your career to the next level.


Here are some advantages of pursuing a postgraduate qualification:


  1. Flexible Study Options: Many postgraduate courses offer flexible study arrangements, including online modes.

  2. Hands-On Training: You'll receive practical and hands-on training in specific study areas, all while establishing connections within the industry.

  3. Transferable Skills: Acquire skills that can be applied across various industries, providing an advantage if you're considering a change in your role.

  4. Higher Earning Potential: Postgraduates typically earn around 48% more than those with an undergraduate degree in the same field.




Useful Topics to Explore:

⇒ Types of Education in Australia
⇒ Applying to Study in Australia: Student Timeline
⇒ Courses that can lead to PR in Australia
⇒ Enligsh Language Courses Overview (ELICOS)
⇒ MBA and Management Education in Australia 
⇒ Vocational Education & Training Courses (VET)
⇒ Technical and Further Education (TAFE)
⇒ Higher Education - Undergraduate Level
⇒ Foundation Courses
⇒ Study Abroad & Student Exchange 
⇒ Online & Distance Education
⇒ Secondary Education

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