postgraduate study in Australia

There are many education pathways you can pursue in Australia. One of these is to further your education with a postgraduate course at an Australian university. 

If this is something you would like to pursue, we’ve put together a guide that contains everything you need to know about postgraduate courses here in Australia.

Postgraduate study in Australia
Last Updated Tuesday 19th March, 2024

What is postgraduate study and how does it work?

Postgraduate study refers to tertiary-level study that you undertake after you have graduated from your bachelor’s degree. There are many types of postgraduate courses. Most students who are considering postgraduate study will first choose between a coursework- or research-based postgraduate degree. A coursework degree involves lectures and seminars, as well as regular assignments and examinations. A research degree is a self-directed program that requires you to conduct independent research and write a substantial body of work in the form of a thesis.

The three types of postgraduate courses are graduate certificates and diplomas, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. Graduate certificates and diplomas focus on developing a certain skill set and expanding the knowledge you gained in your undergraduate degree. A graduate certificate usually takes six months to complete, while a graduate diploma will take a year.

A master’s degree is a specialised course that focuses on either coursework or research. It will usually take one or two years to complete.

A doctoral degree – or PhD – is the highest award that you can obtain at an Australian university. It requires you to conduct original research that makes a major contribution to the body of knowledge in your field. You will complete a PhD with a thesis that explores your research and findings. A PhD usually takes three years to complete and requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (honours) or master’s degree to enter the course.

Which institutions in Adelaide offer postgraduate study?

There are four universities in Adelaide that offer postgraduate study, with a large variety of academic disciplines to choose from.

The University of Adelaide is the state’s oldest university and holds a place in the top one percent of the world’s universities. The University offers courses in arts, engineering, computer and math sciences, business, economics and law, and has highly regarded science and medical courses. If you are considering postgraduate research in the future, The University of Adelaide also belongs to the leading coalition of research-intensive Australian universities, the Group of Eight. The Group of Eight enrols more than one-third of postgraduate students, and awards half of all doctorates in Australia.

The University of South Australia is the largest university in the state and a founding member of the Australian Technology Network, a group of the four most innovative and enterprising universities in Australia. The University offers a wide range of courses. Its nursing, law, art and design programs are ranked amongst the top 100 in the world, and the business school is ranked in the world’s top one percent.

Flinders University, located in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, offers courses in business, government, law, education, social work, arts, medicine and engineering. The University is ranked within the top 100 universities worldwide for nursing, and first in the world for digital illustration. Flinders University has also recently opened a brand new campus in the CBD at Festival Plaza.

Torrens University Australia is a private university that has campuses all over Australia. Torrens University offers courses in design, business, education, hospitality, naturopathy, nutritional medicine, western herbal medicine, technology and many others. The size of Torrens ensures small class sizes and a one-on-one success coach for every student.

How postgraduate study can lead to migration

Studying a postgraduate degree in South Australia can lead to temporary and permanent migration in Australia.

Once you’ve graduated, you may be able to gain work experience while working in Australia, and apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) - Post-Study Work stream. Getting work experience is important if you then wish to apply for a permanent or temporary resident visa through state nomination in Adelaide.

How to apply for postgraduate study

To apply for a postgraduate course in Australia, you must have completed at least one undergraduate course that is comparable to an Australian bachelor's degree. You can apply for a postgraduate course through an educational institution or an Australian education agent.

If you apply directly to an educational institution, you will need to download the application form from the institution’s website, fill it out with your details, and submit it back through the website. You will likely need to prepare some documents for the application process, including certificates that verify any previous study you have undertaken and your English language proficiency. At this point, you might also consider applying for any scholarships you might be eligible for.

If you are successful in your application, you will have to accept the offer via mail or email. Once you receive your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment, you can begin lodging your student visa application, if you are not already in Australia.

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