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Student and course types explained

International or domestic, online or on campus? Find the answers you need before you apply.

It can be difficult to understand the different student and course types at university, so we’ve put together this guide to answer your questions.

What is the difference between a domestic and an international applicant?

There are different entry requirements and application steps for domestic and international students, so it is important to check if you are an international or domestic applicant.

Domestic applicants

You are a domestic applicant if you are:

  • an Australian citizen,
  • a New Zealand citizen (including a diplomatic or consular representative of New Zealand, a member of the staff of such a representative or the spouse or dependent relative of such a representative),
  • a holder of an Australian permanent resident visa, or
  • a holder of an Australian permanent humanitarian visa.

Learn about the domestic entry requirements.

International applicants

You are an international applicant if you:

  • are not a citizen of Australia or New Zealand,
  • do not hold an Australian permanent resident visa, or
  • do not hold an Australian permanent humanitarian visa.

Learn about international entry requirements.

What are the different types of courses?

Charles Darwin University (CDU) is a dual-sector university which means we offer both TAFE courses and Higher Education courses including undergraduate, postgraduate and research degrees. We also offers short courses and enabling courses to get you back into the swing of studying.


TAFE is a competency-based learning system built around nationally endorsed industry standards.

TAFE courses range from certificate level to diploma, with tailored programs for secondary students, apprentices and trainees.

Completing a TAFE course provides a great pathway into further study, with most undergraduate courses available to students who have completed a Certificate IV or higher.

Explore our TAFE courses.

Certificate I

Covers base-level skills needed for specific industries. They are usually offered in remote locations or through schools. 

Certificate II

Introductory-level courses that prepare you for entry-level work positions and apprenticeships across a variety of different industries or for further learning opportunities. A Cert II can help show a potential employer that you’re actively interested in their industry. 

Certificate III

At this level you'll develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for a specific area of work. This level of qualification is ideal if you want to start an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Certificate IV

Designed for supervisory or management positions, this level is ideal if you want to advance your career in your industry and further enhance any skills and knowledge you’ve previously acquired.

Successful completion of this level may provide up to 40 credit points towards an undergraduate Higher Education degree in the same field.


Diplomas are high-level TAFE qualifications. You’ll gain specialised knowledge and skills for paraprofessional work or further learning by developing broad and in-depth skills in professional, technical or creative fields.

Skills taught include planning, development and management.

Successful completion of this level may provide up to 80 credit points towards an undergraduate Higher Education degree in the same field.


An undergraduate course is a program that leads to a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree. At CDU, some diplomas are also classified as undergraduate courses.

Some undergraduate courses will allow students to apply for an additional honours year. Honours programs are an excellent option for students to develop their research skills while expanding their future employment and study options.

Explore our Undergraduate courses.


A postgraduate degree is a program of study at a higher level than a bachelor's degree and includes graduate certificates, graduate diplomas, master's by coursework.

The entry requirements for postgraduate courses can be specific, so it’s a good idea to check the requirements for the course you’re interested in by visiting the course detail page.

Postgraduate courses are great for building on the knowledge you’ve gained from your bachelor’s degree or professional experience and can help you take the next step in your career.

Explore our Postgraduate courses.


Higher Degrees by Research include master’s by research and doctorates and are completed under the guidance of a supervisor with expertise in the field of study.
For this reason, Higher Degrees by Research have their application process and course rules.

Explore Higher Degree by Research.

Enabling courses

Enabling courses are an alternative entry program (sometimes called a 'preparatory' or 'bridging' course) that helps you get into the swing of study. Enabling courses are free, and once completed you’ll meet the entry requirements for most CDU courses.

Explore our enabling courses.

Who are the different types of applicants?

Type of applicants:

  • Applicants with previous Higher Education study
    • Former students who have completed at least a 0.5 year of full-time study (or equivalent) can apply based on their GPA. The minimum GPA is 2.24 for most courses at CDU.
  • Applicants with previous TAFE study
    • Applicants who have completed a national qualification at Certificate IV or above meet the minimum entry requirements to most courses CDU.
  • Year 12 applicants
    • Year 12 applicants are applicants that have received an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), International Baccalaureate and meet the entry requirements to CDU through the competitive offer round process.
    • Most courses meet the entry requirements with a minimum ATAR of 60; however, some courses are more competitive than others and may cut with a higher score.
  • Enabling course applicants
    • For students who don’t meet course entry requirements or need a hand to get into the swing of study, we offer a free Tertiary Enabling Program (TEP) or Preparation for Tertiary Success (PTS) for Indigenous students. With TEP or PTS, you’ll have the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence you’ll need to succeed at university.

    • You can complete the program online or on-campus in as little as 16 weeks, and you’ll then meet the requirements to apply for entry to most CDU undergraduate degrees. CDU also accepts similar bridging programs offered at universities around Australia.

  • Applicants with work and life experience
    • If you have not received an ATAR (or equivalent) or other qualifications, you can submit a Personal Competencies Statement and Employment Experience. This provides applicants with the opportunity to demonstrate that they meet the following criteria:

      • Tertiary Preparation and maturity

      • Independent Learning Strategies

      • Interpersonal and Communication Skills

      • Achievement and experience

      • Skills and Knowledge.

    • Further information on how to write the Personal Competencies statement according to the guidelines can be found on the SATAC website.
  • Domestic applicants with overseas qualifications
    • Overseas qualifications deemed to be equivalent to meeting the minimum entry requirements by (NOOSR) are eligible to apply based on these.
  • International applicants

What are the different attendance modes?

At CDU, you’ll have the flexibility to study your way online, on campus, full time or part-time.

Study online or on campus

CDU is a leader in flexible course delivery with students choosing to study on campus and online throughout Australia.

Online study

As an online student, you’ll be able to study where and when it suits you, so it’s easy to fit around your family and work commitments. And you don’t need to live away from our campuses to be an online student so you can still take advantage of the flexibility online study offers. Find out more about online study.

On-campus study

As an on-campus student, you will attend your designated campus or centre for lectures and classes. You’ll benefit from having face-to-face contact with your lecturers who will be able to guide and support you through your studies. And you’ll have the chance to meet other students on campus. Find out more about on-campus study.

Study full-time or part-time

Enjoy the flexibility to build your study load around your commitments. Study full time and finish your course as soon as possible or study part-time so you still have time for work, family and your social life. And you can change your study load from semester to semester, so when your situation changes you can adjust your study load for upcoming semesters.

Full-time study

You are a full-time student if you are enrolled in 3 or 4 units per semester.

Part-time study

You are a part-time student if you are enrolled in 1 or 2 units per semester.

If you are an international student, you must study full time. Visit our international student compliance page to learn more about the required study load.

Course progression

When adjusting your study load and choosing units to enrol in, it’s always a good idea to get advice from Student Central so you can make an informed decision.

Visit Student Central to find out more.

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