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Is there value in a graduate certificate or diploma?

Discover the benefits of a short postgraduate course
Find out why many of our students choose to study a graduate certificate or diploma and explore the benefits of these types of degrees.

postgraduate qualification can provide an opportunity to take the next step in your career by upskilling and deepening your knowledge of a chosen field, or even launching into a new career direction.

A graduate certificate or graduate diploma are valuable options to consider. Here are four key benefits of these courses.

1. Gain a qualification in six months

At first glance, the key difference between a graduate certificate, graduate diploma and a master’s degree is the duration.

Usually, a graduate certificate is six months of full-time study, a graduate diploma one year, and a master’s degree one to two years.

What is often overlooked about a graduate certificate or diploma is that they are embedded qualifications – meaning they count towards the higher qualification if you decide to upgrade to a master's.

These degrees give you more flexibility over your level of commitment.

2. Invest in only what you need 

Graduate certificates and graduate diplomas are usually a subset of the units offered in a master’s degree.

A graduate certificate will typically offer you the essential or core units of study. This is a great option if you are looking to extend your existing knowledge base or upskill in a certain area.

Building on from the graduate certificate, a graduate diploma will provide you with the additional units needed to expand or deepen your knowledge in your chosen study area.

If you are looking to gain a professional qualification for your next job or gain specialised knowledge and skills, then a master’s degree could be for you. Some courses allow you to tailor the degree to your specific interests with electives or a research project.

3. Alternate pathway to a master's

If you intend to complete a master’s degree, but don’t meet the entry requirements, you may be able to study a graduate certificate or graduate diploma, then progress into the master's program.

These qualifications tend to have different entry requirements to the master's but can be considered for admission into the master’s degree upon successful completion.

It’s important to note that not all graduate certificates or graduate diplomas have exact equivalent master’s degrees. Check the information for your course if you are unsure. 

4. Try it out before you commit to a master's

Not sure which master's degree is for you?

Our graduate certificates and graduate diplomas give you the option to explore your interests further without the long commitment.

For example, if you aspire to be a psychologist, starting with a Graduate Diploma in Psychology could help you decide if the path is right for you. If you find that it aligns with your interest and goals, you can upgrade to a Master of Clinical Psychology, with the bonus of your previous credits counting towards the degree. 

Around one-third of our graduate certificate and graduate diploma students do end up upgrading to a higher degree. So think of it as the taster before committing to a higher qualification.    

If you're looking for more direction, our course advisers will be available at postgraduate events throughout the year to provide advice on which course would be the most suitable.  

Last updated 23 June 2023

19 April 2017

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