Which postgraduate health course is right for you?

30 March 2020
7 things to consider when choosing a postgraduate health course
Advancing your career in health is easier to accomplish than you might think. A single unit of study, professional certificate, graduate certificate or graduate diploma are valuable options to consider if your not ready to commit to a full master's program.

One of the key differences between the different postgraduate study options on offer at the University of Sydney is the duration, giving you more flexibility over your level of commitment.

Generally speaking, a graduate certificate would take six months of full-time study, a graduate diploma one year, and a master’s degree one to three years, however, durations can vary from course to course.

Single units of study or a professional certificate (comprising of two units of study) are also a low commitment option for busy health professionals who want to stay abreast with the latest knowledge in specialised fields.

Course Credit points required Duration full-time* Duration part-time*
Single unit of study 6 6 months Not available
Professional certificate 12 Not available 1 year
Graduate certificate 24 6 months
1-2 years
Graduate diploma 36 1 year 1.5-3 years


1 year 2-4 years
Advanced master 60 1.5 years 2-5 years

*Please refer to individual course pages for specific information on duration as they can vary between courses.

Here are 7 things to consider to help you decide which option is right for you.

1. Understand your motivation

Deciding on the right course really comes down to where you want to go. Whether you’re looking to upskill or specialise in your field, change direction or set yourself up for senior leadership roles, figuring out what qualifications you need to get there is key.

2. Try before you commit

A single unit of study or professional certificate is a great way to acquire a new skill for a lower cost than a full-length course. If you find that you like it and want to learn more, you’ve got the ability to credit your study to a higher qualification.

3. Get credit for previous study

Related study or work experience may be credited to your degree as a form of recognition of prior learning. This means you won’t have to repeat similar units and could graduate sooner.

4. Manage your fees with support

When it comes to fees, domestic students have access to government loans such as HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP to help you fund your study. Scholarships and Commonwealth Supported Places are also offered for certain postgraduate courses, which can subsidise what you need to pay.

5. Claim as a tax-deductible expense

If the postgraduate study you are pursuing is for professional development purposes and will lead to a formal qualification related to your current employment, you may be able to claim your course expenses on tax.

6. Weigh up the rewards

It pays to invest in your career. The median salary for all medicine and health postgraduates in 2018 was $90,000 – compared to $59,900 for bachelor degree graduates. (Graduate Outcomes Survey, 2018)

7. Get personalised advice

If you're looking for more direction on what postgraduate course is right for you, our course advisers will be available at the virtual Postgraduate Information Evening on 14 May to provide personalised advice on which course would be the most suitable.

What our students say

Jameela Truman
Jameela Truman
"Once you graduate it's not like you're a nurse now and that's it. There are so many options for specialisation and the Master of Nursing sets a great foundation. I couldn’t have picked a better degree to change careers."

Faculty news