How to Obtain an Australian Degree or Other Award in One or Two Semesters

On this page I describe a number of possibilities for German students to obtain an Australian bachelor or master degree. Because it is difficult for German students to obtain finance to help cover the costs of studying abroad for more than two semesters, I concentrate on describing how it is often possible to obtain a degree within two semesters, though you should remember that if you are not dependent on external financial help, you can study in Australia for any degree of any length, provided that you can satisfy the admission requirements and you study full-time, and are accepted by the university.

Before you read this page, however, it is important that you should already have read earlier chapters, especially chapter 4, which describes the basic degree system.


Almost all Australian university degrees and other awards require several semesters of study. For example it normally takes six or eight semesters of study to obtain a bachelor degree and three or four semesters of study to obtain a coursework master degree. How then can a German student hope to complete one of these degrees in two semesters?

The answer lies in the concept of advanced standing (also known as credit transfer) which means that a person who has studied at one university can be granted credit towards a degree on the basis of studies which he or she has successfully completed at another university.

So stated, this concept is easy to understand, but it is by no means easy to implement, especially if the teaching units were completed in another country (e.g. Germany), and it is even more difficult if the units were taught in a foreign language (e.g. German).

Warning: you should not assume that advanced standing will be granted automatically simply because the rules allow it! The decision lies solely in the hands of the faculty offering the degree, and such decisions are often negative.

If you have sufficient financial backing, enough time, and if you can meet the admission requirements, you can of course enrol in any Australian degree. How ever, in the following discussion I have in mind that German students can usually afford to spend a maximum period of 2 semesters studying in Australia. I have based this assumption on the fact that sources which provide financial support for German students are based on a maximum of 2 semesters of study outside the European Union boundaries. If you can actually afford to pay for a longer study in Australia it opens up more possibilities for you.

Some of the awards which I discuss are graduate/postgraduate degrees or awards for which you will already have to either be the holder of an appropriate bachelor degree (e.g. one of the new German bachelor degrees) or of some equivalent or higher award (e.g. a German Diplom). If you are currently studying for a German Diplom or similar and you have successfully completed at least three years of the course (or four years in the case of professional degrees) then you might have "bachelor equivalence". The latter concept is described in more detail in section 3.4 below.

One word of warning: some of the rules which you will read in this chapter are very complicated, and you should not despair if you do not understand them. If you hope to gain advanced standing think about what kinds of courses come into question for the degree in which you plan to enrol.