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How you can do a postgraduate degree without an undergraduate degree


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Studying at postgraduate level can provide significant career advantages: giving you more job opportunities, as well as the chance to earn a higher salary.

But what if you didn’t complete an undergraduate degree? There are many people out there with the talent, skill and motivation to study at a postgraduate level, yet they assume it’s not possible without a bachelor’s qualification.

So, can you do a masters without a degree? In some circumstances, yes, it’s possible. In this article, we’ll look at pathways to postgraduate study, for those who want to explore their potential and improve their career prospects. We’ll also answer some commonly-asked questions including:

  • Do you need honours to do masters?
  • Can you do an MBA without a bachelor degree?


What is a postgraduate degree?

The world of academia can seem a bit intimidating and confusing if you haven’t studied at uni before. In this section we’ll provide definitions for the different types of tertiary qualifications you can study in Australia, to bring you up to speed.

  • Bachelor’s degree/undergraduate degree: The terms ‘bachelor’s degree’ and ‘undergraduate degree’ are often used interchangeably to refer to the same qualification. Delivered by universities, an undergraduate degree teaches you skills such as critical thinking and research, and is recognised worldwide. It usually takes around 3-4 years to complete an undergrad, although this can vary.
  • Honours: After completing your undergraduate degree, you might have the option to complete an additional year of study – commonly referred to as an ‘honours year’. This usually requires the completion of a research project and a thesis.
  • Postgraduate degree: The term ‘postgraduate study’ generally refers to any kind of tertiary course that’s available to students who have completed an undergraduate degree (hence, it’s study that happens ‘post’ graduation). A graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master’s degree and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) are all classified as postgraduate study.
  • Graduate certificate: A graduate certificate can upgrade your qualifications, and it can also provide advanced practical skills needed for specialist industries. Although an undergraduate degree is usually required for entry, some programs allow entry if you have sufficient work experience. Graduate certificates usually take 6-12 months to complete.
  • Graduate diploma: graduate diplomas are usually shorter and less costly compared with masters degrees. Most universities also provide the option of transferring into a master’s degree from a graduate diploma in the same field.
  • Masters: a masters degree is for those who want to become a specialist in their chosen field. When you graduate, you’ll have advanced knowledge in a specific area, and you’ll have high level analytical skills. Master’s programs can be completed through coursework, research and professional practice.

Can you do a postgrad without an undergrad?

If you don’t have an undergraduate qualification, don’t feel discouraged. You can still follow your study and career dreams – it just might mean you’ll need to take a slightly more circuitous route.

Two questions our Course Advisors often get asked are ‘do you need a bachelors to get a masters?‘ and ‘do you need honours to get a masters?’. In many cases, people hesitate to apply for postgraduate study because they think that without an undergraduate degree, they won’t get in. The good news is that most of our postgraduate courses cater to people who have been working in their chosen industry long enough to have a significant amount of professional knowledge. If this sounds like you, it might be possible to find pathways into postgraduate study based on your industry experience.

Can you do a master’s without a degree?

So, what do you need to do a masters if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree? For many, the first stepping stone is to enrol in a graduate certificate. If you’re a professional with at least 3 years full-time experience in a relevant field, you might be able to qualify. From here, this can provide a pathway towards a full master’s degree.

For instance, Swinburne Online’ Graduate Certificate of Business Administration is often where people with professional experience choose to start if they have their sights set on a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). This course is also suitable for people who want to study while working full time, thanks to our flexible study options.

Can you do an MBA without an undergraduate degree?

Yes, if you have the right amount of professional business experience, it’s possible to work towards a Master of Business Administration by starting with a graduate certificate and moving up from there. The following is a list of Swinburne Online’s graduate certificate programs that can lead into the MBA:

In the business world, it’s not just about your qualifications, but your ability to network and foster successful working relationships. By studying for a graduate certificate, you’ll be expanding your network and learning from industry experts with many years of wisdom and experience.

How long after an undergraduate degree can you do a master’s?

It’s usually possible to continue into a master’s program immediately after completing an undergraduate degree. If you’re currently studying at undergraduate level and want to continue on to study a master’s degree, it’s important to talk to a student advisor to make sure you’re on the right track to achieve your goals.

Please note that certain fields of study may require you to complete some practical experience before you graduate. Your grade point average (GPA) could also be a significant factor – again, it’s important to check the course requirements of the master’s program before you apply.

Do you need to complete an honours degree before doing a master’s degree?

No, an honours degree is not generally a requirement for entry into most masters programs in Australia. However, if you have a passion for research and learning, an honours degree can be a very valuable undertaking. Those who have successfully completed their honours year will be well equipped to succeed in their postgraduate studies, including a masters and perhaps even a PhD.

If you’re keen to skip undergraduate study and dive straight into postgraduate study, check out our range of postgraduate courses or speak to one of our Course Consultants today on 1300 069 765. You can also contact us here.