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Australian Qualifications Explained

Australian Qualifications Explained

Are you asking yourself “what’s the difference between a certificate and diploma?”. You’ve came to the right place as we give you a breakdown of the Australian Qualification system which is regulated by The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

Duration of Qualifications

QUALIFICATIONS DURATION OFFERED BY
Certificates I–V Six months to two years (full-time) Schools, TAFE institutes, RTOs, private higher education providers and universities
Diploma One to two years (full-time) TAFE institutes, RTOs, private higher education providers and universities
Advanced diploma One to two years (full-time) TAFE institutes, RTOs, private higher education providers and universities
Associate degree Two years (full-time) Universities, as well as some private higher education providers, TAFE institutes and RTOs
Bachelor degree Three to five years (full-time) Universities, as well as some private higher education providers, TAFE institutes and RTOs
Bachelor degree (honours) One year (full-time) Universities and some private higher education providers
Graduate certificate and graduate diploma Six months to two years (full-time) Universities and some private higher education providers
Vocational graduate certificate and vocational graduate diploma Six months to two years (full-time) TAFE institutes, RTOs and some universities
Masters and doctoral degrees One to four years (full-time) Universities and some private higher education providers

Qualifcations Explained

Certificates I–V

Certificates provide introductory skills and training, delivering industry-specific knowledge and skills in communication, literacy and numeracy, and teamwork.

Diploma

Diplomas prepare students for industry, enterprise and paraprofessional careers. Some diplomas can be completed at university level.

Advanced Diploma 

Advanced diplomas provide a high level of practical skills for advanced skilled or paraprofessional work in areas such as accounting, building design and engineering. Some advanced diploma courses can be completed at university level.

Associate Degree

Associate degrees are similar to advanced diplomas but emphasise theoretical knowledge over industry-specific competencies and learning outcomes. They usually articulate into bachelor degrees in the same field, with full credit awarded.

Bachelor Degree

Bachelor degrees are the main award offered at higher education level, preparing students for entry into a range of professions and providing initial preparation for postgraduate study.

Bachelor Degree (Honours)

Bachelor (honours) degrees are usually completed as an additional year of study following a bachelor degree, providing a pathway into research and further study. Students typically complete an independent research project.

Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma 

Graduate certificates and diplomas are designed to enhance professional practice and extend skills or knowledge gained at undergraduate level. They may also help students to develop professional competence in new areas.

Vocational Graduate Certificate and Vocational Graduate Diploma

Vocational graduate certificates and diplomas are the equivalent of the higher education graduate certificate and diploma, although they are less common. They provide high-level employment related skills and knowledge in areas such as business, education and technology.

Masters and Doctoral Degrees

Masters degrees are designed to provide in-depth understanding in a specific area of knowledge through coursework, research or a combination of these activities. Doctoral degrees recognise the highest levels of academic achievement and require an original contribution of knowledge to a particular field of study, usually through a substantial thesis.