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.


Australia is home to more than 300,000 international students and is one of the world's most popular study destinations.


The relaxed life, pleasant climate and top universities in Australia attract students from around the world seeking admission to post-graduation programs.


If you want to pursue postgraduate education in Australia, you can choose between a teaching-intensive or a research-led course.


This blog uncovers all you must know about postgraduate education, qualifications and degrees in Australia.



1. Types of Postgraduate Qualifications in Australia


The Australian education system provides a variety of postgraduate qualifications so that every student gets to study what they desire. Australian postgraduate degrees are of two types:


  • Coursework or the taught degrees

  • Research degrees


Coursework degrees mainly focus on providing a theoretical foundation. Exams for this degree are to evaluate students. In contrast, a research degree focuses more on the practical aspects of your degree that expose you to real-life challenges.


In this course, your academic development is measured by experimental work and delivering an original dissertation. 


Here are the types of postgraduate qualifications provided by various universities in Australia:



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


Australia provides an excellent educational experience to students and makes an actual difference in their life. Here are a few benefits of studying post-graduation from Australia:


  • Australian Universities majorly 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.



What is a Postgraduate Certificate Equivalent To in Australia?


As per the Australian Qualifications Framework, a postgraduate is a level-8 postgraduate qualification that sits just below a Graduate Diploma or an Honours year (for a Bachelor's Degree).



Is a Postgraduate Certificate Higher Than a Degree?


A postgraduate certificate sits one level above a bachelor's degree. It is for individuals with industry experience who want to gain more specialised knowledge in a specific area.



What is a Postgraduate Certificate Also Known as?


A postgraduate certificate is also called a Graduate certificate in Australia.



What is The Difference Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate Certificates?


In an undergraduate certificate, a student completes a qualification at university. Examples of undergraduate certificates include a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, and a certificate.


Graduates from an undergraduate program can consider completing a postgraduate program. It could be a bachelor's honours degree, Master's degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma, or doctoral degree.



Is Graduate Certificate a Postgraduate Degree in Australia?


Yes. A Graduate Certificate is a postgraduate qualification in Australia.



Is a Postgraduate Certificate Equivalent to Honours?


A graduate certificate from an Australian university stands at Level 8 in the AQF. It is higher than a bachelor's degree and equivalent to a graduate diploma and a Bachelor's (Honours).



Is a Postgraduate Certificate Higher Than a Diploma?


Yes. A Graduate Certificate (Level 8) is higher than a diploma course (Level 5) on the AQF in Australia. Between these qualifications lies:

  • Level 6 Advanced Diploma Associate Degree

  • Level 7 Bachelor's Degree



What is a Postgraduate Certificate Worth?


A graduate certificate is a well-regarded and targeted qualification. It is an excellent study option for those wanting to advance their knowledge in a specific field.


A graduate certificate often provides comparable benefits to a Master's degree, can take years to complete, and requires a bachelor's degree to qualify.


Graduate certificates are just one full-time semester-long so you can benefit from a full-time postgraduate degree at a lower cost and faster rate.


Moreover, graduate certificates have a more specialised nature. It implies you gain more autonomy over your studies than in longer postgraduate courses.


Rather than the in-depth theoretical knowledge you gain in a Master's degree, the certificate emphasises practical application, excluding irrelevant core units that take up your time.


Additionally, certification boosts your skills and credibility, which may result in a higher salary. Also, you will be in a better position for salary negotiation if you mention this certification on your resume.


Additionally, graduate certificate programs provide an opportunity such as professional networking and mentorships to help advance your career.



Best Candidates For a Graduate Certificate:


  • Recent graduates can supplement their Bachelor's degree by completing these short programs. It can help them strengthen their resume and network with other professionals.


  • New employees in a specific industry might benefit from earning a graduate certificate as it will show the employer about your commitment to continued learning. It can lead to salary increments or promotions.


  • Career changers can also benefit by obtaining a graduate certificate in their target industry. They can learn basic terminology and transferrable skills that will boost their 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 is a degree for university graduates that includes an Honours degree, Graduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas, a Master's degree, and a Doctorate.



What is Undergraduate vs. Postgraduate Australia?


Students study undergraduate education studies at universities in Australia. They introduce students to the knowledge base in a particular discipline.


Students receive the award of a Bachelor's degree when they complete their undergraduate studies.


The postgraduate study refers to a set of courses that provides more specialised knowledge to students who have completed undergraduate studies.


Typically, individuals possessing this qualification are highly sought after for senior positions and opportunities for advancement.



Is it Worth Doing Postgraduate Course?


A postgraduate study is an investment in your future. It is an ideal qualification whether you seek a promotion at the workplace, widen your skills and knowledge, or wish to take your career to the next level.


Here are some of the benefits of undertaking a postgraduate qualification:


  • Flexible study arrangements as some postgraduate courses are also available in online study modes.

  • You get hands-on and practical training in specific study areas while building industry connections.

  • You gain transferable skills that are in demand across several industries. It gives you the edge when planning to switch to a new aspect of your role.

  • Postgraduates earn around 48% more than those with an undergraduate degree in the same area.



Higher Education - Postgraduate Institutes in Australia 


Australia has an excellent higher education system with plenty of renowned universities. Here is a list of postgraduate institutes in Australia:















New South Wales




Western Australia




South Australia




Australian Capital Territory



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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