What are my tertiary alcohol and other drug qualification options?

June 2023
The last scoping of tertiary level Australian alcohol and other drug (AOD) qualifications was undertaken two decades ago. We sought to identify current AOD-specific Graduate Certificates, Diplomas and Masters programs currently on offer at Australian universities.

So what?

The Australian AOD sector provides highly meaningful and engaging, albeit complex and challenging work.[1] There is however, global workforce shortages in which our sector is struggling to compete.[2, 3] Tertiary providers have a key role promoting AOD careers to students; and to produced knowledgeable and skilled graduates. With considerable changes in Australia’s higher education sector in recent decades, it is uncertain what AOD-specific tertiary qualification options are available to our future, and current, workers.

What we did

An exploration of Australian higher education AOD-specific graduate qualifications. Our premise was the following question: If I was interested in a Graduate AOD-specific course, what could I do? Graduate programs in scope were Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters by Coursework in AOD programs. Internet searches for suitable programs were conducted in January 2023. For each identified program, the following information was obtained: university provider, jurisdiction, cost, study modes, delivery modes, and duration. Information were tabulated and synthesised into an excel spreadsheet. Descriptive analyses were undertaken, with selected data compared with historical data [4].

What we found

Twenty years ago, seven universities offered 14 AOD-specific graduate qualifications (Graduate Certificate: n= 5; Graduate Diploma: n=4; Master by Coursework: n=5).[4] In 2023, five universities offer 10 AOD-specific graduate qualifications (Graduate Certificate: n= 6; Graduate Diploma: n=3; Master by Coursework: n=3). One university (University of Adelaide) offers both domestic and international qualification options. Two universities have offered programs in both 2003 and 2023 (The University of Adelaide; Monash University/ Turning Point).

In 2023, the average cost of a Graduate Certificate in AOD, for a domestic student, is AUD $10,936 ($3,915-$14,200). FEE-HELP is available for four programs, and CSP the other. All programs offer part-time and online study options, 12 months being the typical duration. For a domestic students’ Graduate Diploma, the average cost is AUD $25,630 ($25,500-$25,760), but FEE-HELP is available. Graduate Diplomas generally have part-time and full-time enrolment options; and are typically of 12 months duration. For a Masters by Coursework the average cost is AUD $51,719 ($46,837-$56,800). FEE-HELP is available for two programs. Two programs offer full-time and part-time enrolment options, with online learning only available.


Our investigation is an initial scoping of what is on offer by Australian universities. We focused on specific AOD-specifically named Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters by Coursework programs. We did not seek out programs which offered AOD subjects as part of a broader degree. Nevertheless, what we have found to date raises questions about access, content and quality of Australian postgraduate AOD qualifications.

Next steps

The Australian Productivity Commission recently reviewed Australia’s school, vocational and higher education systems.[5] They found an explosion of high-skill jobs, increased quality concerns; and an emerging need for ‘lifelong learning’. It is timely that as a sector we reconnect with tertiary (and vocational education and training) providers to collaborate on attracting and developing a qualified and competent workforce to meet current and future AOD-related challenges.


Jane Fischer: In one of my earlier lives, I participated in the ‘Thin Edge of Wedge’ campaigns against deregulation/ increases in university post-graduate degree fees. In hindsight, a prescient, albeit largely unsuccessful, campaign.

What are my options? Info Sheets are available here

HED Infosheet

VET Infosheet


  1. Skinner, N. and A.M. Roche, ‘Very demanding. Extremely rewarding’: exploring the co‐occurrence of burnout and engagement in alcohol and other drug workers. Drug and Alcohol Review, 2021. 40(6): p. 989-997.
  2. Roche, A. and R. Nicholas, Workforce development: An important paradigm shift for the alcohol and other drugs sector. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 2017. 24(6): p. 443-454.
  3. WHO, Transformative scale up of health professional education. 2011, World Health Organization: Geneva.
  4. Kennedy, C. and A. Roche, Tertiary training on alcohol and other drugs in Australia: a review. 2003, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), Flinders University: Adelaide, Australia.
  5. Productivity Commission, 5-year Productivity Inquiry: from learning to growth. 2023, Australian Government: Canberra.