Keystone logo

Study in Australia: Education in Australia

In Australia you can find public and private universities, vocational institutions and English language institutions. All educational matters in the Australian education are administered by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. 

Feb 18, 2014

In Australia you can find public and private universities, vocational institutions and English language institutions. All educational matters in the Australian education are administered by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

The Australian education system uniquely differs from the ones of other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). This framework, established in 1995, connects school, vocational and university education qualifications into one unified system. 

Find a program

Want to study in Australia? Find & compare programs

The framework, mainly focused on high school, undergraduate and postgraduate education, prepares students for further studies and working life and is based on flexibility and career planning: You can move easily from one study level to another or from one institution to another, if you meet particular requirements. During this qualifications framework, your degrees are Government-authorized and nationally accredited.

There is no need to learn a new exotic language in order to get admitted into Australian universities, since the courses are taught entirely in English! Just keep in mind that you will still need to prove during your application that you have sufficient language proficiency through an English language test like PTE Academic or TOEFL. So make sure you achieve the score needed for admission, depending on the universities you apply for. 

The Australian university education system is structured according to the British system and in Australia you can choose among 42 universities: 37 public universities, 3 private universities and 2 international private universities. The largest university is Monash university with 75,000 students and 5 campuses.

As an international student in Australia, you can pick among various Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees. In addition to that, an MBA in Australia will advance your management skills and open you doors to the business world globally! 

The Group of Eight (Go8) refers to the flagship and mostly highly-ranked, leading research Australian universities which are:

  • The Australian National University
  • The University of Adelaide 
  • The University of Melbourne 
  • Monash University 
  • The University of Queensland
  • The University of Sydney 
  • The University of Western Australia 
  • The University of New South Wales (UNSW)

There is no unified grading system in Australian universities, as each institution has their own grading system and rules. However, the majority of them lies within the following system:

  • High Distinction A+ : 83.00-100.00 or 7.00
  • Distinction (A) : 73.00-82.99 or 6.00-6.99
  • Credit (B) : 63.00-72.99 or 5.00-5.99
  • Pass (C) : 50.00-62.99 or 4.00-4.99
  • Fail (F) : 0.00-49.99 or 0.00-3.99 

Bachelor Studies in the Australian Education System

As stated above, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) consists of 10 levels. The first 7 levels are based in Bachelor’s studies, level 8 is in between Bachelor’s and Master’s and levels 9 and 10 are solely focused on Master’s studies. The academic calendar is divided into two semesters and sometimes three semesters (trimesters) per year, depending on the program. The average amount of studies on a Bachelor’s level in Australia is three to four years of full time studies, depending on the university and discipline. Mostly research based programs require four years of studies. 

Finishing level 7 means you have completed three years of Bachelor’s studies. Proceeding to level 8, you will find yourself between Bachelor’s Honours degrees and Graduate Certificates. You can obtain the Bachelor’s Honours Degree if, after completing the three mandatory years, you stay one more year at the university and participate in research and various other study projects. 

You can also obtain an Honour degree if you graduate with a specific average grade when obtaining a four years Bachelor. The university is responsible for any additional study requirements or projects. 

Be aware to apply on time for a Bachelor’s education in Australia, since earning a place is very competitive. Application deadlines and semesters vary between universities so also make sure you follow the guidelines of the university of your choice. 

In order to get admitted at a Bachelor’s in Australia you will probably not only need to provide high level English language skills or your high school transcripts. Selection is based upon other parameters such as work experience, an audition, interview, a portofolio or even prior knowledge on certain subjects.

How long is a Master’s degree in Australia?

Master studies in Australia last approximately one to two years and are divided into two or three semesters (trimesters) respectively. In order to gain a Master’s degree in Australia you need to have successfully completed a three or four year Bachelor’s program in advance.

Please note that if your Bachelor’s is not obtained by an Australian university, then it needs to be officially recognized by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). In addition, you will be asked to attend a preparatory course before starting your Master’s. 

The structure of a Master’s degree in Australia is divided into either taught degrees or research degrees. Taught degrees or courseworks are dedicated to providing a more theoretical foundation and assessments are conducted through examinations. On the other hand, research degrees are less focused on theory and more on practical examinations, the writing of a thesis based on research results and involve a lot of experimental work. 

A Master’s degree requires a high level of English language proficiency. Not sure if you meet the linguistic criteria to get admitted into a Master’s degree in Australia? No problem! You can prepare before and start studying through an English language course!

Doctorate studies in Australia: Everything you need to know

In Australia, except experiencing the picturesque landscapes, you can also consider pursuing your Doctorate studies in one of the most internationally respected universities. The Australian PhD degrees are focused on excellence and remarkable research and as a Doctorate student, you are allowed to stay and work in the country for at least four years. 

A full time PhD in Australia lasts about three years of study and you are eligible for an application after the completion of a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. Australian citizens are allowed to extend their study length and choose to study the PhD part time, meaning six years. 

However, this option is not available to international students, as they are required to study full time, due to the visa conditions and constraints. The majority of the Doctorate degrees are research based, although there are some programs that offer lectures and training during the studies. 

At the end of your studies you will be asked to submit a doctoral thesis summarizing the findings of your research. What is surprising in relation to PhD studies in Australia is that, unlike the majority of other countries around the world, there is no viva voce (living voice in Latin). 

Viva voce is the defense, the oral examination seminar in which one or more examiners talk with the Doctorate student and ask them questions about their PhD thesis project. This is mostly happening because of the geographical length of the country which a lot of times makes it difficult for both parties to meet together. 

Instead, your thesis project will be given to external examiners for grading, a procedure that can take several months to be completed. However, the last years Australian institutions have adopted a different approach, a conventional viva voce where the examination seminar takes place digitally through video conferencing. 

Before even making the official application for Phd studies in Australia, keep in mind that the most important is to contact your prospective supervisor first, otherwise you will not be considered as a possible candidate for the university. During your research proposal you need to provide clearly all the information about the project you would like to be involved in, the discipline and the research aims. After you receive a positive interest answer from a supervisor, then it is time to start working on your official application to the university.

Study in Australia - Overview

Over 700,000 international students choose Australia as their study abroad destination every year. Click here to learn why.

Student Visas

Do you need a visa to enter Australia to study? Learn more about the student visa process, and what you need to enter the country, depending on your citizen status. You will also be required to bring certain documents with you to passport control at the airport, which we cover as well.

Housing & Living Costs

No matter where you study abroad, it’s important to create a budget in advance so that you’re prepared. Therefore, we’ve detailed average living and housing costs so that you can get a better idea of what you would be paying as a student in Australia.

Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for degree programs in Australia may vary. Both international and domestic students are expected to pay tuition fees in Australia. To cover the rest of the costs, there’s plenty of scholarship opportunities available.

Language & Culture

Australia is beautiful and diverse country. Find out more about what the country offers in terms of language, culture, and more!

Application Process

All countries have specific admissions requirements for students to gain acceptance into a university. Learn more about the ins and outs of admission to programs in Australia, and what you need to apply, depending on your citizenship.


Ready to look at education in Australia? Use our search engine to find and compare top programs in Australia today!

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.