The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training
The AQF links education and the labour market
The AQF sets the standards for Australia’s qualifications
The AQF is a flexible, contemporary framework of Australia’s qualifications
The AQF is Australia’s National Qualifications Framework
The AQF builds confidence in qualifications
The AQF supports the development of pathways to assist people to move easily through education and training and work
The AQF supports lifelong learning
The AQF underpins regulatory and quality assurance arrangements for education and training
The AQF supports national and international mobility of graduates and workers
The AQF enables comparability of Australian and international qualifications
AQF qualifications are the currency of the labour market

AQF qualifications

Qualification type refers to the broad discipline-free nomenclature used in the AQF to describe each category of AQF qualification. For example Senior Secondary Certificate of Education, Certificate III, Bachelor Degree.

Click on the qualification type to see the details of each qualification type. If you are unable to view the details in the graphic, click on the title of the qualification type underneath the graphic.

Each AQF qualification type specification includes the requirements for the construction of AQF qualifications.

This includes:

The key reasons why we have AQF qualifications are to ensure national recognition and consistency as well as common understanding across Australia of what defines each qualification. 

AQF qualification titles identify the qualification type, level and field of study.

AQF specification for the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education

The purpose of the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education qualification type is to qualify individuals with knowledge, skills and values for diverse pathways to further learning, work and effective participation in civic life.

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education qualifications are not located at a particular level in the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 1 – Certificate I

The purpose of the Certificate I qualification type is to qualify individuals with basic functional knowledge and skills to undertake work, further learning and community involvement.

Certificate I qualifications are located at level 1 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Certificate I qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 1 criteria and the Certificate I descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 2 – Certificate II

The purpose of the Certificate II qualification type is to qualify individuals to undertake mainly routine work and as a pathway to further learning.

Certificate II qualifications are located at level 2 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Certificate II qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills Specified in the level 2 criteria and the Certificate II descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 3 – Certificate III

The purpose of the Certificate III qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply a broad range of knowledge and skills in varied contexts to undertake skilled work and as a pathway for further learning.

Certificate III qualifications are located at level 3 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Certificate III qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 3 criteria and the Certificate III descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 4 – Certificate IV

The purpose of the Certificate IV qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply a broad range of specialised knowledge and skills in varied contexts to undertake skilled work and as a pathway for further learning.

Certificate IV qualifications are located at level 4 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Certificate IV qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 4 criteria and the Certificate IV descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 5 – Diploma

The purpose of the Diploma qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply integrated technical and theoretical concepts in a broad range of contexts to undertake advanced skilled or paraprofessional work and as a pathway for further learning.

Diploma qualifications are located at level 5 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Diploma qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 5 criteria and the Diploma descriptor.

Diploma qualifications are available for accreditation and issuance in both higher education and vocational education and training.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 6

Advanced Diploma

The purpose of the Advanced Diploma qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply specialised knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake advanced skilled or paraprofessional work and as a pathway for further learning.

Advanced Diploma qualifications are located at level 6 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Advanced Diploma qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 6 criteria and the Advanced Diploma descriptor.

Advanced Diploma qualifications are available for accreditation and issuance in both higher education and vocational education and training.

Full qualification type specification

Associate Degree

The purpose of the Associate Degree qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply underpinning technical and theoretical knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake paraprofessional work and as a pathway for further learning.

Associate Degree qualifications are located at level 6 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Associate Degree qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 6 criteria and the Associate Degree descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 7 – Bachelor Degree

The purpose of the Bachelor Degree qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply a broad and coherent body of knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake professional work and as a pathway for further learning.

Bachelor Degree qualifications are located at level 7 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Bachelor Degree qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 7 criteria and the Bachelor Degree descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 8

Bachelor Honours Degree

The purpose of the Bachelor Honours Degree qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply a body of knowledge in a specific context to undertake professional work and as a pathway for research and further learning.

Bachelor Honours Degree qualifications are located at level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Bachelor Honours Degree qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 8 criteria and the Bachelor Degree descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

Graduate Certificate

The purpose of the Graduate Certificate qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply a body of knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake professional or highly skilled work and as a pathway for further learning.

Graduate Certificate qualifications are located at level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Graduate Certificate qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 8 criteria and the Graduate Certificate descriptor.

Graduate Certificate qualifications are available for accreditation and issuance in both higher education and vocational education and training.

Full qualification type specification

Graduate Diploma

The purpose of the Graduate Diploma qualification type is to qualify individuals who apply a body of knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake professional or highly skilled work and as a pathway for further learning.

Graduate Diploma qualifications are located at level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Graduate Diploma qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the level 8 criteria and the Graduate Diploma descriptor.

Graduate Diploma qualifications are available for accreditation and issuance in both higher education and vocational education and training.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 9 – Masters Degree

There are three main forms of Masters Degrees within the Masters Degree qualification type: the Masters Degree (Research), the Masters Degree (Coursework) and the Masters Degree (Extended).

The purpose of the Masters Degree (Research) is to qualify individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts for research and scholarship and as a pathway for further learning.

The purpose of the Masters Degree (Coursework) is to qualify individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts for professional practice or scholarship and as a pathway for further learning.

The purpose of the Masters Degree (Extended) is to qualify individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts for professional practice and as a pathway for further learning.

Masters Degree qualifications are located at level 9 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Masters Degree qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes specified in the level 9 criteria and either the Masters Degree (Research) descriptor, the Masters Degree (Coursework) descriptor or the Masters Degree (Extended) descriptor.

Full qualification type specification

AQF Level 10 – Doctoral Degree

The purpose of the Doctoral Degree is to qualify individuals who apply a substantial body of knowledge to research, investigate and develop new knowledge, in one or more fields of investigation, scholarship or professional practice.

Doctoral Degree qualifications are located at level 10 of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

There are two forms of Doctoral Degree with the same descriptor within the Doctoral Degree qualification type: the Doctoral Degree (Research) and the Doctoral Degree (Professional).

Research is the defining characteristic of all Doctoral Degree qualifications. The research Doctoral Degree (typically referred to as a Doctor of Philosophy) makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge; the professional Doctoral Degree (typically titled Doctor of [field of study]) makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the context of professional practice. The emphasis in the learning outcomes and research may differ between the different forms of Doctoral Degree qualifications but all graduates will demonstrate knowledge, skills and the application of the knowledge and skills at AQF level 10.

Doctoral Degree qualifications must be designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate the learning outcomes specified in the level 10 criteria and the Doctoral Degree.

Full qualification type specification