When it comes to online study courses in Australia, you’re spoiled for choice. From online university degrees and TAFE certificates to private college courses, online short courses, and vendor-specific training, the choices are endless. 

But don’t worry – we’re here to help you make sense of it all. Whether you’re a recent school leaver, looking to boost your skills, or want to switch careers, there’s an online course pathway that’s right for you. 

In this article, we’ll break down the different types of online classes in Australia and highlight what makes each one unique. We’ll look at who they’re best suited for and how they can help you reach your goals. By the end, you’ll have a much better idea of which online study path is the perfect fit for you. 

Comparing Different Online Study Options in Australia 

Educational PathwayTypical CostPrerequisitesStudy DurationFeatures
UniversityHighHigh school diploma, ATAR3-4 years (undergrad)Comprehensive academic programs, research opportunities
TAFEModerateVaries, often flexible1-3 yearsPractical, vocational training, industry connections
Private CollegesVaries (often high)High school diploma1-4 yearsSpecialised programs, small class sizes
Online CoursesLowTypically noneWeeks to monthsFlexible, self-paced, wide range of subjects
Vendor-Specific TrainingModerateSometimes none, often specific tech knowledgeDays to monthsIndustry-specific skills, official certifications

Understanding Qualification Levels in Australia

To know which pathway is right for you, you need to understand the different qualification levels in Australia and where they might take you in your career. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Certificate I: This level provides basic skills and knowledge for initial work, community involvement, and further learning. It can be a pathway to entry-level employment or further study.
  2. Certificate II: With this qualification, you can undertake more routine work and gain a deeper understanding of your chosen field. It can lead to entry-level jobs or apprenticeships.
  3. Certificate III: This level provides more comprehensive skills and knowledge, often leading to skilled work in a specific trade or profession. Many apprenticeships result in a Certificate III.
  4. Certificate IV: At this level, you gain more specialised knowledge and skills, preparing you for supervisory or skilled work roles. It can also provide a pathway to further study, such as a diploma.
  5. Diploma: A diploma provides advanced skills and knowledge in a specific area, preparing you for paraprofessional or skilled work. It can also be a pathway to university studies.
  6. Advanced Diploma/Associate Degree: These qualifications provide a high level of practical skills and theoretical knowledge, often leading to advanced skilled work or entry into undergraduate university programs.
  7. Bachelor Degree: A bachelor’s degree provides a broad understanding of a specific field, preparing you for professional work or further study at the postgraduate level.
  8. Bachelor Honours Degree/Graduate and Vocational Graduate Certificate: These qualifications provide specialised knowledge and skills, often building upon a bachelor’s degree. They can lead to advanced professional work or further postgraduate study.
  9. Masters Degree: A master’s degree provides advanced, specialised knowledge and skills, preparing you for high-level professional work or research roles.
  10. Doctoral Degree: The highest qualification level, a doctoral degree demonstrates mastery of a specific field through original research and significant contributions to knowledge. It prepares you for leadership roles in research, academia, or industry.

For the most part, universities offer courses at levels 5–10 and other training organisations (TAFE, private colleges and online courses) offer courses from levels 1 to 6. 

So, with that in mind, let’s find out the different options for online study in Australia from the top five major learning institutions. 

Compare Online Course Options & Providers

Online University Courses

Best for:

  • Students seeking comprehensive academic education and research opportunities.
  • Those pursuing professions requiring a degree (law, medicine, or academics).

University is a formal education pathway offering a range of course options from bachelor degrees to postgraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates. Here are some of the most common types of online uni courses: 

  • Single subjects or units: Students can enrol in individual subjects or units online, which can be a great way to explore a new field, gain specific knowledge, or earn credit towards a degree.
  • Postgraduate courses: Many universities offer online postgraduate courses, such as graduate certificates, graduate diplomas, and master’s degrees. These courses are often designed for working professionals looking to upskill or advance their careers.
  • Short courses and microcredentials: Universities may offer short online courses or microcredentials that focus on specific skills or topics. These courses can be completed relatively quickly and often provide a certificate of completion.

TAFE Online Courses

Best for: 

  • Those looking for practical, vocational training and education. 
  • Hands-on learning with direct pathways into specific trades or careers, like plumbing, electrician, or hospitality.

TAFE institutes in Australia offer a range of online courses that can help you gain practical skills and qualifications for your chosen career. These courses are designed for people with different levels of education and experience, so there’s something for everyone.

  • Certificate: If you’re just starting out, certificate courses can give you a good foundation in your field. These usually take around six months to a year to complete.
  • Diplomas: For those who want to go a bit further, diploma and advanced diploma courses can provide more advanced knowledge and skills. These courses can take one to two years and may even lead to university studies.
  • Short courses: TAFE also offers short online courses if you want to gain specific skills quickly. You can usually complete these in a few weeks or months, which is great if you’re looking to upskill or expand your knowledge in a particular area.

You can find online TAFE courses in lots of different industries, like business, health, IT, hospitality, creative industries, and trades.

Private Colleges Online Courses

Best for:

  • Students looking for specialised programs in fields like business, technology, or the arts. 
  • Focused curriculums, and shorter duration courses.

There are several private colleges in Australia that offer online courses. These colleges provide a flexible way to gain new skills and qualifications, often with a focus on specific industries or areas of study.

One well-known example is Open Universities Australia (OUA). This provider works with a range of Australian universities to offer a wide range of online courses and degrees. You can study things like business, education, health, arts, and science through OUA. They have short courses, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and even single subjects you can take.

Another option is Upskilled. They’re a private college that offers online courses in areas like business, community services, IT, and digital media. They have a mix of short courses, certificates, and diplomas that can help you build practical skills for your career.

There’s also Monarch Institute, which focuses on online courses in business, accounting, and finance. They offer certificates, diplomas, and short courses that are designed with input from industry professionals.

If you’re interested in creative fields, the Academy of Information Technology (AIT) might be worth checking out. They have online courses in things like digital design, film and video, game development, and mobile app development. AIT offers diplomas and short courses to help you build a portfolio and prepare for a creative career.

These are just a few examples, but there are plenty of other private colleges in Australia that offer online courses. It’s all about finding the one that fits your interests, goals, and learning style.

Online Short Courses & Micro-Credentials

Best for:

  • Busy professionals and remote learners who want cost-effective upskilling.
  • Self-paced online learning across a wide range of topics and skill levels.
  • Continuing education and balancing learning with life commitments.

Online courses in Australia are a great way to learn new skills, dive into a topic that interests you, or even start working towards a qualification. There are several good online course providers out there, each with their own unique offerings.

Online Courses Australia is a leading online education provider. We offer a range of courses across Aged Care, Allied Health & Wellbeing, Animal Health, Beauty, Business, Retail & Entrepreneurship, Dog Grooming, Social Media & Marketing Online, Bookkeeping and more! With no prerequisites, self-paced learning and expert advice from mentors in the industry, OCA really has an online course for everyone – no matter where they are in their educational journey. 

If you’re looking for something a bit more career-focused, Udemy has a huge library of online courses that are designed to help you build job-related skills. You can find courses on things like web development, graphic design, public speaking, and project management.

For those interested in creative fields, Skillshare offers online courses in areas like photography, film, animation, and writing. Their courses are usually made up of short video lessons and hands-on projects to help you build your skills and portfolio.

Vendor-Specific Training

Best for:

  • Students requiring specific technical skills or certifications from the source.
  • IT professionals/technical fields requiring up-to-date knowledge of software, hardware, or technologies.

Vendor-Specific Training is a type of online learning that focuses on developing skills and knowledge related to a particular company’s products or services. These courses are designed by the vendors themselves and aim to help professionals become proficient in using their tools and technologies.

Popular examples include:

  • Microsoft Learn –  offering a wide range of online courses and learning paths for Microsoft products and services, like Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics 365.
  • Salesforce – their online learning platform, Trailhead, offers courses and hands-on projects to help you learn about Salesforce products and services. 
  • Adobe Learn – you can find courses on popular Adobe products like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
  • Google Skillshop – offers online courses and certifications in Google tools and platforms, like Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Marketing Platform. 

Vendor-specific training can be a great option if you’re looking to build skills in a particular company’s products or services. Just keep in mind that these courses are focused on a specific vendor, so they may not cover broader industry concepts or skills. They’re best used as a complement to other forms of learning and professional development.

What Type of Online Course is Best for YOU?

No matter your background or career goals, there’s an online course that can fit your needs. With so many choices available, you’re likely to find one that matches your learning style and helps you move forward in your career. Here’s a quick recap: 

Universities: Online university courses are a great option if you’re looking for a well-rounded academic education that can boost your career prospects. These courses allow you to earn a respected degree and delve into new areas of study from your home.

TAFE Institutes: If you need practical, job-specific skills, consider TAFE online courses. They provide practical knowledge that’s directly applicable to the workplace and can help you secure recognised qualifications.

Private Colleges: For specialised knowledge in fields like business, health, or technology, private colleges offer online courses that are flexible and supportive, making them ideal for anyone looking to upskill or switch careers.

Online Short Courses & Micro-Credentials: If you’re curious about a new subject or need the flexibility to learn at your own pace, online courses are perfect. They offer a wide range of topics and the convenience to study anytime, anywhere. They’re often the most budget-friendly study pathway. 

Vendor-Specific Training: For those who need to master specific tools or technologies, vendor-specific online training is the way to go. This type of training offers direct instruction from experts, helping you gain industry-recognised certifications.

Take the Next Steps with Online Courses Australia 

Ready to take the next step in your career or explore new educational opportunities? Enrol with Online Courses Australia today and discover a world of flexible, accessible learning that fits your lifestyle and aspirations. 

Whether you’re looking to advance in your current field or embark on a new career path, we have a course that’s perfect for you. Don’t wait to transform your future—start learning with Online Courses Australia now.