Higher education - Postgraduate
- Postgraduate study in Australia
- Qualifications and entrance requirements
- Starting dates
- Average course costs
- View the list of postgraduate institutions
- Search for a course
Australia has built a strong reputation for excellence and quality across its higher education and training programs. This global reputation is reflected in the large number of international students who choose to broaden their minds and enrich their lives by pursuing higher education courses here. Many international students elect to complete their postgraduate studies in Australia.
Australia has a national set of qualifications that are endorsed by the Australian Government. This means that there is national and international recognition of each qualification and the level of education it represents.
Higher education courses are offered by universities and private colleges. Entry into most higher education courses in Australia is highly competitive, and a high standard of English language is required for postgraduate study. Each education provider will have different entrance requirements, so it’s important to contact individual providers to check. You can use the Institution Search to search for and contact individual higher education providers.
The main types of postgraduate qualifications offered by most higher education institutions are:
Graduate certificate/diploma: These qualifications are generally designed for specific vocational purposes — either the broadening of skills and knowledge already gained in an undergraduate program or the development of vocational skills and knowledge in a new professional area. The typical requirement is six months to a year of full-time study for the graduate certificate and one to two years of full-time study for the graduate diploma. Entry usually requires a bachelor degree or advanced diploma.
Masters degree: Masters degrees provide a mastery or high-order overview of a field of study or area of professional practice. They typically involve one or two years of study. The masters degree may be offered in three formats:
- Coursework masters: These consist of coursework, project work and research in varying combinations. Entry typically requires prior completion of a bachelor degree, a bachelor degree (honours) or a graduate certificate or diploma.
- Research masters: These are at least two-thirds research and include a substantial thesis, which is often externally assessed. Entry normally requires a bachelor degree (honours) or masters preliminary year, a research-based graduate diploma or equivalent research experience.
- Professional masters: These may consist of a work-based project. Entry requires a relevant qualification and professional experience, or extensive relevant professional experience.
Doctoral degree: Doctoral degrees recognise a considerable original contribution to a given field in the form of new knowledge or the adaptation, application and interpretation of existing knowledge. The doctoral degree may be offered in two formats:
- Research doctorate (PhD): These consists mainly of supervised research. Entry requires a research or part-research masters degree or a bachelor degree (honours).
- Professional doctorate: These combine coursework and research for professionals wishing to advance their knowledge in their field without the research committment of a PhD. Entry typically requires a combined research and coursework masters degree or a bachelor degree (honours). In addition, considerable professional practice experience is required either before or during the course.
These vary widely depending on the course. Higher education courses generally run from late February to mid November. The academic year is typically divided into two semesters, although some education providers operate on a trimester system and/or offer summer schools from December to February.
Postgraduate students enrol for their courses at the beginning of the year (usually in January or February), but application dates are typically towards the end of the previous year. Some institutions also have mid-year enrolment and intake (usually in July) for certain courses. Students studying towards a doctoral degree or other research-based award may be able to negotiate an alternative starting date with their project supervisor.
Graduate certificate/diploma: AUD$15,000–$36,000 per year
Masters and doctoral degrees: AUD$15,000–$36,000 per year
These figures were sourced from the Australian Government’s Study in Australia website in 2012. Please note that fees vary widely and should always be sourced from the relevant institution.