Could postgrad be for you?

Postgraduate studies can help your career in lots of ways, such as:

  • furthering your career
  • specialising in your field of study
  • increasing your salary (postgrad qualifications may not always increase your starting salary, but the majority of postgraduates earn more than undergraduates over the course of their careers)
  • clarifying / changing career direction – many postgraduate courses can act as a means to entering a different field
  • allowing you to pursue a passion for a particular subject in more depth
  • gaining access to industry and forging invaluable contacts – undertaking postgraduate study tends to uncover industry contacts and work experience opportunities

To give you an idea of what you might earn if you graduate with a postgraduate degree versus a bachelor degree, here are the median salaries*:


Median salaries:

  • postgraduate diploma/certificate graduates – $70,000
  • coursework masters graduates – $76,000
  • research masters/PhD graduates – $75,000
  • bachelor degree graduates  – $52,000


The median annual salary for postgraduates in their first full-time employment was:

  • $58,000 for postgraduate diploma/certificate graduates
  • $57,000 for coursework masters graduates
  • $68,000 for research masters/PhD graduates.

*At the time of the 2011 AGS Australian Graduate Survey (AGS), conducted annually by Graduate Careers Australia (GCA


Types of postgraduate study


An honours year is generally considered a postgraduate year. To be eligible for honours, you need a high grade point average for your undergraduate years. In some disciplines, an honours can lead to completing a Masters degree or lead to further research.



A Graduate Certificate (Grad Cert) can be completed with a three-year bachelor degree under your belt and usually takes one semester full-time (two semesters part-time). A relevant undergraduate degree is often required, however appropriate work experience can sometimes count.



Masters by Research is completed wholly on the basis of a research project. You’ll be paired with a supervisor whose field of expertise is aligned with the project. The thesis is examined on completion (usually two years full-time).


PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Doctorate by research or PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is the highest degree that a university confers. It is similar to the masters by research, with a thesis submitted to examiners who determine whether the research work (generally carried out over four years) is worthy of the qualification. As a PhD candidate you must, through your thesis, demonstrate that you’ve made some original contribution to your field. Once graduated, you may use the title of Doctor.


Things to think about

 Undertaking further study after completing your undergraduate degree can be a big commitment. Some things you’ll need to consider:

  • the financial and lifestyle implications of further study
  • how further study may impact your future employability and career options
  • the study mode (part-time, distance) and choosing one that best suits your needs
  • options to fund your tuition fees and living expenses
  • the skills you hope to develop during your studies.