Home » Study Online » What Is a Graduate Certificate in Australia?

What Is a Graduate Certificate in Australia?

A graduate certificate is a short postgraduate course with multiple uses. Learn what the program is about and why you should consider doing one.

University graduation ceremony participants rear view

If you want to do university study without committing to a degree, a graduate certificate may be the perfect choice. The versatile postgraduate course is short, consisting of only four subjects, and provides a potentially lucrative qualification.

With a grad cert, you can do advanced specialist studies within your established niche. You can also study a different discipline to change career paths. If you enjoy the course, you're usually able to continue studying for a graduate diploma or masters.

Definition: What Is a Graduate Certificate?

A graduate certificate is a short, higher education course that normally consists of four subjects. It's open to degree holders. Experienced professionals without a degree may also join some courses.

As a four-subject program, a graduate certificate corresponds with one semester of full-time study in the Australian university system. Online versions are commonly completed by working professionals over 8 months of part-time study.

Program content is flexible. It can be specialised or, alternatively, aimed at introducing the particular field of study to newbies. Some courses also allow you to choose electives from a large menu of subjects.

Categories of Graduate Certificates

Courses May Be Introductory or Advanced

The graduate certificate is an often misunderstood course and qualification. It is not a degree. It is also not really equal to anything else, even though it is treated as equivalent to an honours degree and graduate diploma. The grad cert has its own place in Australia's education system and serves different purposes.

There is a misconception that the postgraduate course is highly specialised and aimed at students educated and experienced in a certain discipline. That's false. While there are plenty of programs like this, many graduate certificates are ideal for people wanting to change career streams. Programs may be foundational in nature, and accessible to professionals from different backgrounds.

In more than 90% of cases, graduate certificates are part of a larger master's program. That may be the best way to understand what a graduate certificate is. It's a segment of a master's degree. Grad cert students typically study alongside master's students. Everyone has the option to exit with a graduate certificate qualification after completing the necessary subjects.

How It Compares With Other Course Types

Graduate certificates have that special role of providing a way for university graduates to do rapid, targeted study in a particular area. There is no course quite like it. Let's see how it stacks up against other accredited courses of study.

Comparison table

Qualification Description Duration Cost AQF Level
Certificate IV Vocational qualification, usually offered by TAFEs/colleges Average of 12 months $4k Level 4
Diploma Vocational qualification, usually offered by TAFEs/colleges Average of 14 months $6k Level 5 (Advanced: 6)
Bachelor degree Undergraduate degree designed for recent school leavers 3 years full-time $45k Level 7 (Honours: 8)
Graduate certificate Postgraduate qualification for rapid, targeted study 6 months full-time $14k Level 8
Graduate diploma Postgraduate qualification, longer and more in-depth than grad cert 12 months full-time $28k Level 8
Master's degree Postgraduate qualification, comprehensive exploration of a topic 1.5-2 years full-time $42k Level 9

Note: Costs are estimated averages and may vary significantly by program. Course duration is also variable. AQF stands for Australian Qualifications Framework.

Compared to other qualifications, a grad cert is fast, affordable and equally respected. The amount you learn may be less than a degree, graduate diploma, diploma and certificate IV. But you can still potentially gain high leverage towards achieving career goals if your course is well chosen.

Graduate certificate vs other qualifications

An online Graduate Certificate in Education is an excellent option for educators and professionals with training roles. It provides a postgraduate qualification and a pathway to a master's degree.

The top programs in Australia are flexible and accelerated, allowing you to study 100% online while working full-time. The certificate program is shorter than a graduate diploma or master's, making it a cost-effective way to upskill.

There are at least a dozen specialisations available, including Early Childhood, Educational Leadership, Innovative Learning, and more... READ MORE