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A Guide to Master’s Degrees

There are many postgraduate education pathways you can pursue in Australia. A master’s degree is an excellent way to accelerate your career into roles with more responsibility and higher pay, or to continue your academic career and work towards a PhD. Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about master’s degrees in Australia.

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What is a master’s degree? 

A master’s degree is the first level of postgraduate study. Usually an education provider offers this type of degree to students who have already completed an undergraduate degree, otherwise known as a bachelor’s degree. Some professions do require employees to have a master’s degree in order to qualify for the job, but even if this is not the case, many employers will still pay a higher salary to employees with a master’s degree.

Holding a master’s degree is also a lot less common than having a bachelor’s degree, which means it can give you an edge in competitive hiring situations. This type of degree adds one to two years of specialised higher education in your chosen area of study, often signifying you as an expert in this area. 

How do they work?

Master’s degrees have a very similar format to undergraduate degrees. They are made up of units of study, completed each semester, that collect credit towards your final qualification. A master’s degree will often require you to complete a dissertation or final project, which contributes to your overall grade. 

Master’s degrees are available in most areas of study. Education providers will often allow you to choose certain modules you’d like to study so that you can tailor your qualification to the profession you are pursuing, or the area you would like to specialise in.

As with other types of degree, you can choose whether to study full-time (which usually requires at least 30 hours of study per week, depending on your discipline) or part-time (which often requires about half the hours of full-time study). However, studying part-time also makes the course duration double that of a full-time workload. So, for instance, if a full-time course takes two years to complete, the part-time course would take four years. 

Who can apply for a master’s degree?

Most education providers will require you to have completed a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in a master’s degree. This is because a master’s is a higher level of education, and therefore requires more than just basic knowledge of the area of study. However, some intuitions have flexible eligibility criteria, which acknowledge work experience or other types of study, such as certificates and diplomas. 

If you find you don’t have the required level of experience or qualifications to begin a master’s, many institutions now offer excellent study pathways to help you qualify for enrolment, such as extra classes and courses that will give you the experience and confidence to study at master’s level.

Which institutions in Adelaide offer master’s degrees? 

Using our Course Search, you’ll find more than 600 courses offered by The University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia. The choice and depth of courses offered in Adelaide is exceptional and provides great options for all types of students hoping to study a master’s degree. Adelaide is also known as one of the most livable cities in the world and welcomes international students from all countries.

How can a master’s degree lead to migration? 

A master’s degree can lead to migration by offering international students the opportunity to apply to the Australian government for a student visa. This visa type entitles you to live and study in Australia, as well as to work a limited number of hours (dependent on your application and the type of study you’re undertaking). A student visa is a great way to find out what it’s like to live in Australia.

Once you’ve graduated, if your area of study leads to a job in one of the skilled professions listed on the Australian government website (this list changes periodically) you could be eligible to apply for a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457). This will enable you to stay in Australia and work in that skilled occupation. 

On rare occasions, an employer may offer you a position and offer to apply for a 457 visa on your behalf. However, that is often dependent on their resources and circumstances. Having a master’s degree definitely helps make you an attractive asset in this situation.

If you need help with your visa, head to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website. It provides extensive information and the option to use the helpline if you get stuck. 

How do you apply for a master’s degree?

Once you’ve decided which education provider you would like to study with, and found the right course for you, check the entry requirements. If you’re unsure, call student services or the admissions department to discuss your options. Most education providers have a dedicated international student liaison who can help with your enquiries. 

You may well be eligible for credit if you’ve studied other certificates and diplomas, so make sure to discuss that with the admissions office. Most education providers prefer applications to be submitted through the designated applications feature on their website, so head online and you’ll be taken through the process step by step.

If your application is successful you’ll be sent a letter of offer, which you’ll need to respond to as soon as you can. This process can take a little while, but once complete, you’ll be sent instructions for student orientation and all the details you need to get started with your master’s degree.

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