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Masters Study in Australia - A Guide for 2018

Featured Universities

If your interest in postgraduate study abroad is fuelled by a spirit of adventure, a love of travel and an urge to try out new experiences, you can’t do much better than a Masters in Australia.

On this page you can find detailed advice on postgraduate degrees in the Australian university system. This includes a guide to visas for international students in Australia and information on the application process for Australian Masters degrees.

Elsewhere in this section you can read about student life in Australia, fees and funding for Australian Masters degrees and Australian postgraduate rankings.

On this page

Postgraduate opportunities in Australia – what’s on offer for 2018?

The land Down Under is famous as the home of beautiful weather, relaxed living and diverse sport and leisure opportunities. But did you know that it’s also the world’s third most popular destination for study abroad? Or that Australian universities are internationally renowned for the quality of their research and training?

As an international Masters student you’ll have the chance to experience the things that make Australia one of the world’s most appealing tourist destinations and take advantage of the unique educational opportunities that its universities offer.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons to consider a Masters in Australia this year:

  • World-class reputation – There are eight Australian universities among the world’s top 150, reflecting the country’s academic excellence.
  • International outlook – Over 330,000 overseas students can’t be wrong – Australian institutions must be doing something right!
  • Fantastic climate and quality of life – Along with enviable year-round sunshine, Australia enjoys its status as one of the world’s safest and most stable countries.
  • Unique research opportunities – Australia’s oceans and beaches may be famous as a surfer’s paradise, but they also offer unparalleled potential for environmental science research. After all, how many other countries give their marine biologists the chance to explore the Great Barrier Reef?
  • Internationally recognised programmes - Modelled on the British degree system, Australian Masters degrees are respected around the world.

Masters Study in Australia - Key Details
Universities 43
Oldest University University of Sydney (1850)
International Students 335,112
Course Length 1-2 years
Average Fees AUD $20,000-37,000 (USD $15,660-29,000)
Academic Year February to November

Australia universities

There are over 40 universities in Australia. The majority are public institutions, administered and funded by the Australian federal government.

Some maintain multiple campuses, but most are located within specific cities – with the greatest concentration on the eastern coast.

You can study at any Australian university as an international Masters student, provided you meet their application and admissions requirements. You will normally pay fees at a slightly higher rate, but will otherwise be admitted on the same basis as domestic students.

Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions

Australia’s ‘Technical and Further Education’ (TAFE) institutions are distinct from research universities. They focus on vocational training programmes rather than academic degrees.

TAFE institutions don’t normally award postgraduate-level qualifications and you can therefore focus elsewhere when searching for a Masters degree in Australia.

The academic year in Australia

The academic year in Australia begins in February. It runs across two teaching semesters from February to June and from July to November.

Masters courses are usually available to start in either February or July, although some professional courses are only available to start in semester 1 (February).

Starting your Masters degree in February may seem strange if you’re used to an academic year beginning in September (this is particularly likely if you’re a current undergraduate, expecting to finish in the summer).

Having some time between the end of your Bachelor’s degree and the beginning of your Masters may be helpful, however.

You’ll have space to organise your application and perhaps even acclimatise yourself to Australia before your degree starts (subject to the conditions of your visa, of course). With most students travelling quite a way for an international Masters in Australia, this can be very convenient!

Accreditation of Australian universities

Australian universities are subject to self-regulation along with independent statutory overview. This protects their academic freedom, while maintaining internationally respected accreditation standards.

As an international Masters student in Australia, you will also be covered by the Education Services for Overseas Students Act (ESOS Act). This establishes standards for international education Australia and protects the rights of overseas students.

These different systems ensure the quality of Australian Masters degrees is carefully maintained and that the qualification you receive will be of a standard recognised around the world.

Australian university rankings

With eight universities among the top 150 in the world (according to the Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings), Australia has an impressive global reputation for higher education. It’s no surprise that so many international students flock to Australia.

For a more in-depth look at the leagues, take a look at our guide to Australian postgraduate rankings.


Top Australian Universities in 2018
University THE 2018 QS 2018 ARWU 2017
University of Melbourne 32 =41 39
Australian National University 48 20 97
University of Sydney 61 50 83
University of Queensland 65 =47 55
Monash University =80 60 78
University of New South Wales 85 45 101-150
University of Western Australia =111 =93 370
University of Adelaide =134 =109 101-150
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Do rankings matter for Masters degrees?

International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.

Australian university cities

Australia has plenty of bustling cities to choose from when it comes to postgraduate study. Whether it’s a coastal metropolis like Sydney or Melbourne, or the inland capital of Canberra, you’re spoilt for choice.

Course types

If you have previous experience of a western university system, the organisation of Australian degree qualifications will probably seem quite familiar.

Like the UK system (upon which it is modelled) Australia uses a three-tiered degree structure. Undergraduate Bachelors degrees are followed by postgraduate Masters degrees. Some students then continue on to higher level research qualifications, such as the PhD.

Many Australian degree programmes also use similar names to their UK equivalents. The titles of MA (Masters of Arts) and MSc (Master of Science) are widely employed, for example.

Some course names do differ though. You are more likely to come across Masters of Commerce than Masters of Marketing. Professional teaching qualifications, meanwhile, are referred to as Graduate Diplomas of Teaching (or Masters of Teaching) rather than the UK Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

You can use our course listings to find programmes in familiar subject areas.

Types of Masters degree in Australia

You can study a Masters in Australia in a range of degree formats. Some courses build directly upon your undergraduate study. Others provide advanced training to boost your current career – or switch to a new one.

  • Traditional Masters are academic courses, offering the chance to study a specific subject in more depth. They are similar to equivalent degrees in countries like the UK, awarding qualifications like the Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc).

    These courses are delivered through a combination of teaching and / or research, with most including a final dissertation or similar project.

  • ‘Change of direction’ Masters are for students who looking to switch academic pathways or gain additional expertise in a new area.

    They often start by giving you a grounding in the core principles of your new subject, before providing advanced training in a certain specialism.

  • Graduate entry professional qualifications are for candidates who have already completed an undergraduate degree and want to qualify professionally in a related career.

    These courses are ideal if you intend to enter a regulated profession. If you wish to become a teacher, for example, you could use a Graduate Diploma or Master of Teaching to add professional education training to your academic knowledge of a specialist subject.

    As an international student in Australia you should make sure professional qualifications are recognised in your home country. Many will be and, in some cases, the skills and experience you have gained abroad will help your CV stand out back home.

  • Professional development Masters are for candidates looking to enhance their careers through additional training. For example, you might be an experienced teacher seeking to develop education management skills, or a marketing professional looking to acquire digital media skills.

    Unlike graduate entry professional Masters, these programmes usually require existing qualifications and experience. Studying such courses abroad can be an excellent way of building up your CV by taking advantage of unique expertise and training opportunities in Australia.

How long do Australian Masters degrees take?

The exact length of your Masters degree will depend on the type of programme you study and its course content. In some cases your academic and professional background may also be a factor.

Most Masters degrees in Australia take between one and two years to complete:

  • Traditional academic programmes taught entirely by coursework are generally 18 months long.
  • Courses that include foundational training or require vocational placements may be longer (this can be the case for some Change of Direction or Professional Masters programmes).

You can view the lengths for individual Australian Masters degrees using our course listings.

What about Masters by Research in Australia?

Most Australian universities offer research-based Masters degrees as well as taught courses. These will usually be academic programmes (though some professional courses can include extended practical placements).

You can study a Masters by Research as a terminal (final) qualification in Australia or, if you wish to progress to doctoral research, you may be able to upgrade your registration to a PhD.

Your university will set its own application process for postgraduate research programmes, but you will normally be expected to provide an outline of your prospective research topic and its aims. This doesn’t have to be final, but it should demonstrate the potential of your work and its suitability to the department and supervisor you are applying to work with.

Masters fees and funding in Australia

In Australia, postgraduate tuition fees are set by individual universities and not the government, so you’ll find a wide range of costs across different institutions and courses. Tuition fees for Australian and New Zealand citizens are lower than they are for international students.

As a rough guide, programmes cost between AUD $20,000 and AUD $37,000 per year (USD $15,660-29,000) for overseas students. Masters in the Arts and Humanities will be at the lower end of this scale, while Science-based programmes will be towards the top. Subjects like Veterinary Science and Medicine could be even higher.

Read more about Australian Masters fees and funding

Our guide to Australian Masters fees and funding covers this topic in more detail, with information on scholarship opportunities, average fees and funding eligibility.

Applying for a Masters in Australia

Australian universities are free to set their own application and admissions requirements, but all will be used to welcoming international postgraduates.

Admission requirements for academic programmes

The core requirement for admission to an academic Masters programme in Australia will be a relevant undergraduate degree (or its equivalent).

Your university should be able to advise if you are unsure about the eligibility of your existing qualifications. If you are based in the UK or Ireland you can also seek advice from Study Options.

The required standard for undergraduate qualifications will vary between programmes, but most universities will accept the equivalent of a UK 2.1 or higher. This is roughly equivalent to a GPA of 3.0 or better in the USA.

Admissions requirements for professional programmes

Professional programmes may have more specific application requirements:

  • Professional development Masters courses will usually require evidence of appropriate work experience and / or existing professional qualifications.
  • Graduate entry professional qualifications may ask you to submit a score from a graduate applications test such as the GRE or the GMAT. This is most likely for competitive programmes in subject areas such as business management.

Application process

There is no central application and admissions service for postgraduate degrees in Australia. However, international students in the UK and Ireland can choose to apply through Study Options, a support service for UK and Irish students in Australia and New Zealand. Their services are completely free and impartial.

Alternatively, you can apply directly to your prospective Australian university.

However you apply, you will need to provide a completed application form and proof of your existing qualifications.

Other application requirements for an Australian Masters degree can include:

  • Academic transcripts – These provide additional details of your undergraduate education, such as the modules you have studied and your performance on them. Your undergraduate university will need to produce and certify these documents.
  • References – These should include statements from your undergraduate tutors and / or professional employers, as appropriate.
  • A personal statement – Not all courses will require a personal statement. A Masters by Research may ask for one as part of your proposal. A graduate entry professional programme may also ask you to describe your interest in a course and its relationship to your career goals.

Interviews

Most Australian Masters degree programmes won’t require a formal interview as part of your application process.

Exceptions may apply to professional programmes or research-based degrees, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to make an extra trip to Australia. Many universities will arrange to interview international applicants via Skype or a similar platform.

Application dates and deadlines

Application deadlines for Australian Masters degrees will depend on the start-date for your course:

  • If you are commencing in the first semester (February-June) you will normally need to apply by the end of the previous October
  • If you are commencing in the second semester (July-November) you will normally need to apply by the end of April

Your university should be able to help you if you’re unsure about any aspect of your Masters application, including deadlines, admissions requirements and supporting documents.

Masters student visas in Australia

Most people will need a visa to study a Masters in Australia as an international student. Note that visas are only available for full-time students. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to receive a visa to study a part-time Masters in Australia.

Who doesn’t need a visa to study in Australia?

You won’t normally need an Australian student visa if you are a citizen of Australia, a citizen of New Zealand, or have the right to reside permanently in New Zealand or Australia.

What type of visa will you need to study a Masters in Australia?

You’ll need to apply for a Student Visa (subclass 500) to study a postgraduate programme in Australia. This will allow you to live and study in Australia for the duration of your programme. You’ll also be able to re-enter the country multiple times during this period – perfect if you’re keen to get home for a white Christmas!

Application process

Before you can apply for the visa you will need to be accepted onto an Australian Masters degree course and receive Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). This will be a formal document issued by your university following the payment of a tuition fee deposit.

Once you have your CoE form you can begin your application, using the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Control website to apply online for the Student Visa (subclass 500).

You’ll need to provide supporting information. This should include:

  • Your passport details
  • CoE evidence
  • Proof that you meet financial requirements (see below)
  • Evidence of your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
  • A CV
  • Certified copies of your academic transcripts

You will also need to pay an AUD $560 application fee (USD $435).

The processing period for your visa can vary, but it should normally be issued to you within four weeks.

Additional visa regulations

Australian student visas are usually subject to the following additional regulations:

  • Working – You can work for up to 40 hours a fortnight on a type 573 visa, subject to restrictions. Working hours for students on type 574 visas are not limited. See our guide to living as a Masters student in Australia for more information on working while studying abroad.
  • Academic progress – The validity of your student visa will be subject to your making satisfactory progress on your degree program.
  • Financial requirements – The Australian government estimates a requirement of around AUD $20,290 per year for student living costs (USD $15,780). You may need to demonstrate access to this amount (in the form of existing savings, sponsorship or funding).

Health insurance

You will need valid health insurance for the duration of your Masters in Australia. This is referred to as Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and is available from a range of providers.

The amount of cover provided by OSHC policies varies, but a minimum level is set by the Australian Department of Health. You can find more information at their website.

Next steps

If you’re looking for more information about the cost of studying at an Australian university, check out our guide to fees and funding for Masters degrees in Australia.

Or, if you’d like to know more about what it might be like to live Down Under during your degree, check out our guide to student life in Australia.

If you’re already thinking about your post-Masters plans in Australia, you’ll be happy to learn that a Masters is perfect preparation for PhD study there. Australia also offers ample opportunities for employment. You’ll need to apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa (sub-type 485) if you want to look for work after graduating.

Search for a Masters in Australia

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Australia on FindAMasters.com.

Last updated - 04/04/2018

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