Postgraduate study in health services and rehabilitation

Courses and specialisations

Although many postgraduate courses in health services and rehabilitation are only offered to graduates of related undergraduate degrees, there are also programs that are available to students with a qualification in another field.

There is a wide range of postgraduate coursework degrees available in the health services field, including graduate certificates, graduate diplomas, masters degrees by coursework and professional doctorates. Degrees are available in areas such as dietetics, medical radiation science, naturopathy, nutrition and public health, which allow graduates of general undergraduate degrees (a bachelor of health science, for example) to specialise in a field of interest. You may be able to find a degree that focuses on your chosen specialisation (a master of dietetics, for example), or you may be able to study your specialisation within a more general science postgraduate degree (such as a master of health science). Degrees are also available in niche areas (such as epidemiology, gerontology, palliative care, wound care and medical statistics), which are designed to allow practising healthcare professionals to develop skills in new fields. Courses in health administration, health management and health promotion are also popular choices for health care professionals wanting to qualify for strategic and management positions. In addition, students can complete a master of business administration (MBA) specialising in health management.

There is also a wide range of postgraduate coursework degrees available in the rehabilitation field — mostly at the masters by coursework and professional doctorate level. Courses are available in areas such as audiology, chiropractic, physiotherapy, podiatry, occupational therapy, optometry and speech pathology. Many of these courses are designed to allow graduates of general undergraduate degrees in fields such as science and health science to specialise in the rehabilitation field of their choice and qualify for professional practice.

Research degrees are also available, including masters by research and research doctorates, with around one in ten students completing research each year.

Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. If you do not have a previous degree in your chosen specialisation, check course handbooks carefully to make sure that you are eligible for entry into the course. For more information about postgraduate courses and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Postgraduate.

Where to study

Postgraduate degrees in the health services field are offered at universities and some private colleges. Due to the strict regulation of the rehabilitation profession, postgraduate courses in rehabilitation are only offered by universities. While general courses in health science are available at many institutions around the country, courses in rehabilitation or highly specialised health services fields (such as gerontology) are offered by fewer institutions. 

The course you choose will depend on your previous qualifications, work experience and interests within the field. If you are considering research, it is best to select an institution that has expertise in your specific field, including connections to the industry. For example, you may consider institutions that have good relationships with local hospitals or rehabilitation centres or those that are known for producing research projects in your discipline. You should also investigate potential supervisors. 

Work experience is very important in the health services and rehabilitation fields. If you are completing a postgraduate course in order to qualify for a particular health profession, you should ensure that plenty of practical experience is offered. Many courses have practical placements built into the curriculum, but in those that don’t, students are generally required to organise their own placements. Look out for on-campus equipment and facilities that are relevant to your discipline (such as on-campus clinics, simulated workplace settings and industry-standard equipment).

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