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Australian Defence Force (ADF)

Serving in the ADF is a life like no other. And no matter where home is, whether you're still in uniform, or what you want to do, CDU offers flexible learning that fits around your lifestyle.

Choose from over 300 TAFE and university courses, many with fee-exemptions or academic entry options, and study online or on campus, part-time or full-time. And with Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and tailored student support services, we can help you reach your career goals, your way.

Upskill and connect to your future

Course list for Defence members

Explore courses that offer benefits to current and ex-ADF members.


Study Higher Education courses

Explore all higher education offerings by study area.

Study TAFE courses

Explore all TAFE offerings by study area.

Why pick CDU: diverse choices and tailored supports

Whether you’re a current or former ADF member, and regardless of where you are in Australia or the world, CDU offers key advantages in the diversity of course offerings and the benefits you can access.  

As one of only six dual-sector institutions in Australia, CDU offers over 300 TAFE and university-level courses across nearly 50 study areas, including Accounting, Arts, Engineering, Nursing, and Transport and Logistics.

For these courses, CDU supports current and ex-ADF members with special benefits including a range of fee-free TAFE offerings, additional academic entry opportunities for many university courses, and access to tailored support services.

And since most of our university courses can be delivered fully online, you can study these from anywhere.

So whether you’re after professional development in your current role or to start a new career, you can achieve whatever you want to do from wherever you need to be with CDU.

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Whether you study online or on campus, you'll have a network of support services to help keep you on track.

Support services available

A university that understands your background and learning needs makes it easier to hit the ground running, with specialised support available before, during and after study.

Find out more

Frequently asked questions

I am a Defence member, what are my study benefits with CDU?

Regardless of if you’re a current or former serving member, CDU offers special entitlements for you for both TAFE and Higher Education (university) courses.


If you’re a current NT resident, you are entitled to a range of fee-exempt TAFE courses at CDU as long as places are available. As there are a limited number of these places each year, apply as soon as possible. A list of fee-exempt courses (including both regular and short courses) can be found here, and you can contact CDU’s Defence Project Officer ( to confirm whether spaces are still available.

Higher Education

If you are interested in a Higher Education undergraduate degree (such as an associate or bachelors degree), you automatically meet the academic entry requirements for over 50 courses as long as you have ADF service of one or more years at the rank of Private (or equivalent) or higher.

What are the VET (TAFE) and Higher Education (university) study entry requirements?

CDU offers both Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses through CDU TAFE and Higher Education (university) undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, such as bachelors, masters, and doctoral qualifications. If you’re interested in the differences between VET and Higher Education courses, you can read more here.

TAFE and Higher Education courses have differing entry requirements, which are summarised below and with more information here. Keep in mind that you can find the specific admission requirements for any course by looking at its webpage. Click on the links to browse the TAFE, undergraduate, and postgraduate courses on offer. 

VET (TAFE) Courses

CDU offers VET programs at the short course, Certificate I-IV level, and the Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels.

Short courses generally have no set requirements, although some have course-specific ones, such as a driver’s license if you’d like to learn how to operate a forklift

Certificate-level programs generally require a qualification equivalent to having completed Year 10 in Australia, while diploma-level programs generally require a qualification equivalent to having completed Year 12 in Australia.

You can find out the requirements for any course by looking at its webpage, and you can browse all the TAFE courses here. You can find the TAFE courses that are free-free for current and ex-ADF personnel that are residing in the NT here.

Higher Education Undergraduate Courses

CDU welcomes and celebrates unique paths to university, which is why we offer a range of non-traditional, flexible entry requirements. Most of our undergraduate degrees (such as an associate or bachelor’s degree) allow you to apply based on any of the below:

  • ADF service of one of more years at the rank of Private (or equivalent) or higher.
  • An ATAR of 60 or higher.
  • A TAFE Certificate III or higher.
  • A Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT).
  • Successfully completing at least one semester of full-time study for a university degree or diploma.
  • Successfully completing a university preparation course such as CDU’s Tertiary Enabling Program.
  • Your work or industry experience, through a Personal Competencies Statement.

A list of CDU’s courses that allow entry based on the above is here

Note that some undergraduate courses have additional entry requirements, such as a higher ATAR. You can find out the requirements for any course by looking at its webpage, and you can browse all the undergraduate courses here

Higher Education Postgraduate Courses

CDU’s postgraduate courses range from Graduate Certificates through to Doctorates. The general minimum requirement to apply for a postgraduate course is the completion of an Australian bachelor’s degree. Some courses may also have additional specific requirements. You can find out the requirements for any course by looking at its webpage, and you can browse all the postgraduate courses here.

What evidence do I need to provide to access my ADF related benefits?

You will need to provide the following evidence of your service when you enrol for your course: 

  • to access the TAFE fee-exempt courses you will need to provide your white or gold card;
  • to access the undergraduate courses by demonstrating a year or more of service at the rank of Private (or equivalent), you will need to provide either your ADO service record; a letter from your supervisor/personnel officer/commanding officer giving rank, length of service, and, if possible, occupation; or a Certificate of Service which states rank on discharge and dates of service.
I am a Defence family member, what are my options and benefits in studying at CDU?

Defence family members are welcome to apply to any of the courses on offer at CDU. Click on the links to browse the Vocational Education and Training (VET) TAFE courses, and university undergraduate, and postgraduate courses available. Studying at CDU also offers important benefits to family members, discussed below.

VET (TAFE) Courses

If you are resident in the NT, you are entitled to substantial discounts on NT Government subsidised TAFE courses at CDU as long as places are available. As there are a limited number of subsidised places each year, apply as soon as possible. A list of subsidised courses (including both regular and short courses) can be found here (note: these are the same courses that have a full fee-exemption for current and former ADF members).

Higher Education Courses

CDU understands Defence families have a need for flexibility. Through flexible online learning options, we welcome Defence family members and offer courses from law, business, IT, environment, engineering, health and so much more, many with the option to study part-time or full-time, and on campus or online from anywhere in Australia, and with the option to swap between preferences as your situation changes. You can find out the requirements for specific courses by browsing their webpages at the links above at the start of this section.

I am a Defence member who is considering discharge, or has discharged within the past 2 years: what are my study related entitlements from Defence?

Defence provides up to $5,320 for to support the studies of eligible members for career transition training. 

Defence will also conduct a free Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment for transitioning members, offering the award of a range of nationally recognised qualifications based on an assessment of a member’s existing skills. Note that technical or trade qualifications are not covered under Defence’s RPL offering.

Contact your Defence administrative officer or Transition Coach for assistance.

Note: the information in this section is based on that provided by the Department of Defence. CDU makes no claims as to the accuracy or validity of this information.

Can I obtain Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for my ADF training?

Current and former serving members will have gained a range of valuable skills during their time in the ADF, however not all of these will have resulted in a nationally recognised qualification useable in civilian life.

The process known as RPL involves the assessment of an individual’s skills by subject matter experts to identify whether their skills and experience are sufficient to award all or part of a recognised qualification.

Defence will provide RPL for transitioning members within two years of discharge for some qualifications (excluding technical and trade qualifications – see the previous FAQ topic for more information).

CDU will conduct RPL for all types of Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications that are delivered by CDU TAFE. This applies to both current and former serving members. You can start this process here

Where can I get more information?

If you’d like to learn more about your entitlements at CDU, or gain some assistance with deciding on courses and applying, you can contact CDU student services (just click on ‘Future students’) or CDU’s Defence Project Officer

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