Undergraduate vs Postgraduate

Is there actually a difference?

Starting out, continuing your studies or embarking on ongoing postgraduate education? What are some things you need to consider for each aspect of the tertiary educational system?


Undergraduate studies are the first introduction to study at a University level. Often designed to introduce you to the knowledge base and in many respects are more aligned with a broader overview of study within a certain discipline. As such, expectations especially within early years are designed to introduce you to concepts necessary for university success, such as academic writing, research and referencing as well as discipline specific content and knowledge. Whilst you may undertake some specialisation, it is often more broad in comparison to postgraduate study. Typically, you will complete studies aligning with a Bachelor's Degree.


Postgraduate study builds upon the foundation afforded through undergraduate study and has a deeper level of understanding, expectations and a greater degree of specialisation. Students at a postgraduate level are expected to have a much deeper understanding, in many ways greater independence and be able to undertake analysis at a greater level than undergraduate students within the same area. Moreover, whilst undergraduate students are developing the ability to write and research, this is an expectation within postgraduate studies and is more aligned with developing your capability towards undertaking a thesis or doctoral studies within an area.

Whilst much of postgraduate study is research focused, coursework programs are available and I would argue that the same themes apply. Fees also are typically higher within postgraduate studies compared to undergraduate studies as ultimately you're leaving university with a higher qualification, therefore increased chance of employability due to your specialised knowledge.

Completed units of study will entitle you to a Graduate Certificate (often 6 months of full time study), Graduate Diploma (often 12 months of full time study), Master's Degree (often 2 years of full time study) and lastly a Doctoral Degree, requiring the completion of a major thesis.