Thursday, August 09, 2012

Three Types of Masters Degrees in Australia

The Australian Qualifications Framework (July 2011), defines ten levels for Australian education, from a vocational Certificate 1 to Doctoral degrees. A Masters Degree is at Level 9 and a Doctoral Degree at Level 10 (the highest level). One anomaly is that there is one type of Doctorate, but three types of Masters:
  • Masters Degree: "apply ... knowledge"
    • Research: "research and scholarship"
    • Coursework: "professional practice or scholarship"
    • Extended: "professional practice"
  • Doctoral Degree "new knowledge ... research ... scholarship or professional practice"
The definitions of the masters degrees differ in referring to: research, scholarship and/or professional practice. The Doctoral Degree refers to all of these. I suggest it would be simpler to have one definition of a masters, which includes all three. Apart from simplifying administration, that would allow the student to explore different options after starting their course. Recent research shows that research students benefit from some coursework and so in reality there will be few pure "Research" Masters and the average student would be unwise to enroll in such a program, due to the much lower probably of competing.

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