What is a Graduate Certificate and how can it help me with my studies?

Post by Open Colleges on July 9th, 2020

**This post was updated in July 2020**

If you have already completed a Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma, a Graduate Certificate is a great way to continue your studies without committing to a three or four year university degree.


What is a Graduate Certificate?

In many ways a Graduate Certificate is similar to a university Master’s degree. It is designed to give you very specific high-level skills and knowledge.

When you study a Graduate Certificate, it shows employers that you’re serious about improving your skills and that you are capable of working at a leadership level.

The other thing about a Graduate Certificate is that you don’t need to have completed a Bachelor’s degree to be eligible to study it. Instead, you can apply if you have completed a Certificate IV, Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Associate degree or Bachelor’s degree. 

Where does a Graduate Certificate sit in the tertiary qualification scale

Tertiary qualifications sit in a progressive scale (shown below).

  1. Associate degree
  2. Bachelor’s degree
  3. Graduate certificate
  4. Master’s degree
  5. Doctorate

To help you understand more about these qualifications and what they offer, we’ll have a brief look at each of them.

  • Associate degree

An Associate degree is a two-year undergraduate qualification that provides students with a broad, foundational understanding of a general area of study.

To qualify for an Associate degree you must have competed Year 12, or a Certificate III or IV.

Associate degrees are generally a stepping stone into further study.

  • Bachelor’s degree

A Bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate qualification that usually involves three to five years’ full-time study.

Bachelor’s programs are geared to give students a set of skills and knowledge in a particular field (arts, science, accounting etc.). They are designed to prepare students for professional careers or further study.

Students who complete Bachelor degrees will often move into graduate and entry-level professional jobs.

  • Graduate Certificate

A Graduate Certificate is a more specialised qualification than a Bachelor’s degree. It is designed for people already working in their field or who have qualifications in that particular area, and who want to get more in-depth knowledge and advanced leadership skills.

People who successfully complete a Graduate Certificate use their qualification to advance their career, get a promotion or take on leadership roles. A Graduate Certificate can also serve as a pathway into a Master’s degree.

  • Master’s degree

A Master’s degree gives students next-level skills and comprehensive knowledge across a specialised area of study. It takes around two years to complete, and involves a combination of course work and research.

People generally undertake a Master’s program to get a better or higher paying job, as a pathway into academia or as a stepping stone into a Doctorate degree.

  • Doctorate

A Doctorate is the highest level tertiary degree offered in Australia. It is a highly-specialised degree that usually involves in-depth research into a particular area, as well as a thesis project.

People who complete doctorate programs generally move into academia and teach at university, or work in high-level positions in the professional world.


Why should I study a Graduate Certificate?

There are benefits to studying a Graduate Certificate that you may not have realised. It will give you specialist skills in your professional field, and can open the doors to new and exciting career opportunities. 

1. High-level skills and advanced knowledge

If you really enjoy learning and you want to challenge yourself and hone advanced knowledge and skills without signing up to a full-time university degree, a Graduate Certificate is your solution!

2. Get ahead in your career

Have you been dreaming of stepping up into senior roles, getting a pay rise or taking on more leadership responsibility in your job? A Graduate Certificate takes you into specialist territory and gives you the knowledge, training and qualification that you need to turn your career dreams into a daily reality. It also shows potential employers that you are dedicated to improving your skills and are capable of high-level work.

3. Advanced skills in less time

Simply put, Graduate Certificates are shorter than degrees. Most tertiary qualifications require 2+ years of full-time study. Generally, Graduate Certificates can be fully completed in under 24 months.


Making it happen

As we mentioned above, to undertake a Graduate Certificate you must have already completed a Certificate IV or higher.  

That’s where Open Colleges comes in.  

We offer a wide variety of courses, including nationally recognised Certificate IVs and Diplomas, across a wide range of fields. Our courses have been developed according to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which means they’re recognised everywhere in Australia. Studying a Certificate IV or Diploma with Open Colleges can help you find work across the country, or it can help you begin studying a Graduate Certificate.  

If you’ve been thinking about pursuing further education to upskill, switch careers or enter the workforce for the first time, studying a course online with Open Colleges could help you get there.  

You can check out all our courses on offer here.  

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