What is an undergraduate certificate?

This new university qualification only takes six months to complete full time. Find out more about what it is and why it’s worth studying.

A young man sitting in a cafe and smiling at a laptop

In 2020, to help stimulate the economy during the height of the pandemic, the Australian Government decided to introduce a new kind of uni course: the undergraduate certificate.  

This six-month course is designed to help you ease into a degree in an industry where workers are needed most. It can also help you upskill quickly and jump straight back into the job market if you choose.

What separates it from other short courses is that it’s a recognised higher education qualification, which gives it real merit on your resume.   

But is it the right choice for you? Here are some of your most common questions answered.  

Define it for me again: What is an undergraduate certificate? 

An undergraduate certificate is an introductory university qualification that is a level below a bachelor degree. It’s made up of four subjects, and it takes just six months to complete if you study full-time.  

Why is an undergraduate certificate worth studying? 

Entry is easier 

Undergraduate certificates have fewer entry requirements than other uni courses. In fact, many of them have no entry requirements at all and are open to everybody. So if you’ve never studied at uni before and you want a higher education qualification, it’s a good place to start your study journey. 

It’s a great way to test out a bachelor degree 

An undergraduate certificate is basically a university taster course. It’s actually made up of the first four subjects from a related bachelor degree. You can use the course to see what studying a bachelor degree is like, without committing to longer study. And after six months, you get to walk away with a nationally recognised qualification.  

It gives you a pathway into a degree 

It’s very popular to enrol in an undergraduate certificate as a pathway into a higher qualification. Once you finish your certificate, you can use it to satisfy the entry criteria for a related associate degree or bachelor degree. Your certificate can also count as credit towards that degree. 

Can you earn your undergraduate certificate online?  

Yes, you can study your undergraduate certificate online or face-to-face on campus. 

If you study online through Open Universities Australia, you can access undergraduate certificates delivered by institutions like Curtin University and the University of Tasmania. There are currently courses available across education, science, psychology, health, IT and architecture.   

Many students choose to study through us because we can make your experience with your uni more flexible. For a start, we allow you to complete your certificate a subject at a time instead of all at once, which makes it easier to work full time and fit in your other commitments.  

We also offer four start dates throughout the year—in February, May, August and November—giving you extra opportunities to enrol.    

What’s the difference between an undergraduate certificate vs a diploma?  

While an undergraduate certificate can be studied as a short course, it is most popular as a bridging course that prepares you for further university study.  

A diploma, on the other hand, is a standalone course. When you graduate, you’re qualified to look for employment in certain entry-level roles.    

So can you get a job with an undergraduate certificate? 

An undergraduate certificate can certainly help with making you more employable, depending on where you are in your career.  

If you already have some work experience in your field, then the course can be a great way to learn a practical new skill quickly. This can give you the boost you need to shift into another role or take on extra responsibilities.  

For example, if you already work in marketing and you want to move into user experience (UX) design, which is a very specific subset of marketing, then upskilling with an Undergraduate Certificate in Applied Design could show your employer you’re ready for the change. One of our alumni, Christelle, chose to earn an Undergraduate Certificate in Psychology because she wanted to improve her people management skills in the construction industry. 

However, if you’re looking for an entry-level role in an industry that requires a university degree, then you’ll need further study before you’re fully qualified. The good news is, your undergraduate certificate is an important first step there.  


Ready to see what’s out there? Explore undergraduate certificates that you can study online with leading Australian universities. Or request advice from a student advisor by clicking the link below.


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