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Postgraduate Study

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.

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 five 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 is highly acclaimed for its research, and belongs to the world-leading coalition of research-intensive Australian universities, the Group of Eight. This makes it a great choice for postgraduate students. The University offers postgraduate courses in a wide range of disciplines, including highly regarded courses in science and medicine.

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 is ranked second in Australia for research quality and first for student satisfaction in South Australia. There is a huge range of coursework- and research-based postgraduate degrees to choose from, such as engineering, data science, defence, aviation and medicine.

Flinders University, located in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, offers postgraduate courses in business, health and medicine, international relations, science, humanities and social work. The University is also the largest provider of postgraduate education for teachers in South Australia. Flinders University is the leading South Australian university for overall postgraduate experience.

Torrens University Australia is a private university with campuses all over Australia, and is part of the Laureate International Universities network. Postgraduate courses are available in the fields of technology, design, business, education, health, hospitality and project management. This institution is unique in that it offers dual master’s courses, small class sizes and a one-on-one success coach for every student.

Carnegie Mellon University Australia is the Australian campus of the globally renowned private research university. It is the number one university in the world for information and technology management and number six for public policy analysis. The University offers a Master of Science in Information Technology and a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management. Students who graduate join a global network of Carnegie Mellon researchers, experts and alumni. 

How postgraduate study can lead to migration

Studying a postgraduate degree in South Australia can lead to temporary and permanent migration in Australia. If you choose to stay and work in Adelaide after graduating, you can apply for a work visa. A Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) offers postgraduates from South Australian institutions up to five years in the state after graduation. Visa holders are allowed to apply for an additional year if they wish to stay longer.

You can also apply for a state nomination as a skilled migrant. The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) is a temporary skilled migrant visa that will allow you to live and work in South Australia for up to five years. It also provides a pathway to permanent residency.

If you are planning to stay in Australia much longer than five years, you can apply for the Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190), which will allow you to live and work in South Australia permanently. Your postgraduate degree will greatly improve your chances for a skilled migrant nomination. As a graduate from a South Australian institution, you will gain additional points for the visa points test, an important part of the application process for Skilled Nominated visas.

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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