Course types

We offer a range of different course types – from diplomas to doctorates and everything in between. Get to grips with the lingo and see which option is best for you and your future.

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Deakin offers a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and research courses across our campuses and online. Search for a course or browse our interest areas.

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Higher education and vocational courses

Courses can be split into two distinct types: higher education and vocational.

Higher education courses

These types of courses include both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. They prepare students for a career in a professional field, or within further academic research. While some higher education courses have a lot of practical elements (medicine, for example), they're generally weighted more towards theory.

Vocational courses

These types of courses focus on developing practical skills. They're usually geared towards specific jobs and involve plenty of real-life experience.

Higher education

Undergraduate course types

If you’re studying for your first degree in a particular subject, you’re known as an undergraduate. The term can also be used to describe the degree you’re taking, i.e. an undergraduate degree.

Associate Degree

2 years full time or part-time equivalent

For example: Associate Degree of Arts

  • Geared towards a specific career or used as preparation for a bachelor's degree
  • Guaranteed entry into a bachelor's degree on completion (as approved by Deakin)
  • May give you up to 18 months' credit towards your next degree
  • Some roles (such as medical assistants and paralegals) only require an associate degree

Learn more about associate degrees

Bachelor's degree or BA

3 or 4 years full time or 6 years part time

For example: Bachelor of Arts

  • The minimum requirement for many careers 
  • The prerequisite for a master's degree
  • You may choose a 'major' for your bachelor's degree – the area of study from which you choose the majority of your units

Find a bachelor's degree

Bachelor's degree (Honours) or BA (Hons)

1 year full time or part-time equivalent

For example: Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

  • An additional year of specialised study, taken after you complete a bachelor's degree – or as part of a bachelor’s degree
  • Can help you gain entry into further study
  • Gives you a competitive edge in the job market

Find a bachelor's (Hons) degree

Postgraduate course types

If you continue studying the same subject area beyond your undergraduate degree, you’re known as a postgraduate student – so your course is a postgraduate degree.

Graduate certificate

Usually 6 months full time or part-time equivalent

For example: Graduate Certificate of Education

  • Adds practical, vocational skills to your undergraduate degree, diploma or previous work experience

Find a graduate certificate course

Graduate diploma

1 year full time or part-time equivalent

For example: Graduate Diploma of Education

  • Builds on the understanding and skills developed during a graduate certificate – or from work experience
  • Vocationally orientated and career specific

Find a graduate diploma course

Master's or MA

2 years full time or 4 years part time

For example: Master of Education/Master of Education (Research)

  • Explores the subject of your bachelor’s or diploma in much greater depth
  • A prerequisite to a doctorate
  • You may choose a 'major' for your master’s degree – the area of study from which you choose the majority of your units
  • Master's by research students are allocated a dedicated research supervisor

Find a master’s course


2–4 years full time or part-time equivalent

For example: Doctor of Philosophy (Education)

  • The highest degree available in academia
  • PhD students conduct original research in order to progress in their chosen field
  • People choose to do PhDs if they want a career in academia – or if they want to reach higher levels in their non-academic jobs

Find a doctorate course

Vocational course types

If you want to start or progress a career in an area, such as children's services, horticulture or construction, certificates and diplomas teach you everything you need to know.

If you're new to a subject, you’ll start at certificate II or III. Once you've got a good grounding, or if you've already got experience working in the industry, you can move on to certificate IV or a diploma.

1 year full time or 2 years part time

For example: Diploma of Languages

  • Further the skills and understanding you developed in certificates II, III and IV – or from relevant work experience
  • Prepare for more senior positions

Single units (non-award)

If you would like to get into a new course, you can undertake single units. Some units have prerequisites or special requirements but most are open to anyone.

At Deakin we offer more than 1500 different units of study across our undergraduate courses, so there’s plenty to choose from. One unit takes around one trimester (12 weeks) to complete.

Cross-institutional units

Students from other universities can apply to enrol in units at Deakin. Deakin students can apply to another university to enrol in units and get credit.