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Graduate vs. Postgraduate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on December 11, 2023
A graduate has completed a bachelor's degree, while a postgraduate has pursued additional education beyond a bachelor's, typically a master's or doctorate.

Key Differences

A graduate is an individual who has completed an undergraduate degree, usually a bachelor's degree. A postgraduate, in contrast, refers to someone who has pursued further education beyond the undergraduate level, such as a master's or doctoral degree.
Graduate studies typically provide foundational knowledge and skills in a particular field. Postgraduate studies, on the other hand, are more focused on advanced research and specialization in a specific area of study.
The duration of graduate programs is generally around three to four years, depending on the country and institution. Postgraduate studies can vary in length but often involve several years of study, especially for doctoral programs which include extensive research.
Holding a graduate degree is often the minimum requirement for many professional careers. Postgraduate qualifications, however, are usually pursued for specialized fields, academic careers, or higher-level positions in various industries.
Graduate programs often consist of a mix of coursework and may include some research components. Postgraduate programs, particularly at the doctoral level, are heavily research-oriented and require the creation of new knowledge through original research.

Comparison Chart


Completing a bachelor's degree
Studying beyond a bachelor's degree

Level of Education

Advanced or higher education


Broad foundational education
Specialization and research

Typical Duration

3-4 years
Varies, often longer

Common Degrees

Bachelor’s (e.g., BA, BS)
Master's (e.g., MA, MS), Doctorate (e.g., PhD)

Graduate and Postgraduate Definitions


Receiving a degree from a college or university.
The ceremony celebrated the new graduates.


A student engaged in study beyond a bachelor's degree.
She is a postgraduate researching in molecular biology.


Completing an undergraduate course of study.
He will graduate with a degree in engineering.


After the completion of a graduate degree.
As a postgraduate, she focused on her doctoral thesis.


Someone who has finished their first degree.
He's a recent graduate in biology.


Higher study for specialization in a field.
He received a postgraduate award for his research.


A person who has completed a bachelor’s degree.
She became a graduate of the university last year.


Pertaining to advanced academic or professional study.
He enrolled in a postgraduate program in law.


A holder of an undergraduate degree.
As a graduate, she entered the workforce immediately.


Engaging in master's or doctoral level studies.
She's a postgraduate student in artificial intelligence.


To be granted an academic degree or diploma
Most of the entering freshmen stayed to graduate.


Of, relating to, or pursuing advanced study after graduation from high school or college.


To change gradually or by degrees
"The most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other" (Charles Darwin).


One who is engaged in postgraduate study.


A person continuing to study in a field after having successfully completed a degree course.


Of studies which take place after having successfully completed a degree course.


Of, pertaining to, or designating, the studies pursued after graduation, esp., after receiving the bachelor's degree at a college; graduate.


A student who continues studies after graduation


Of or relating to studies beyond a bachelor's degree;
Graduate courses


What does 'graduate' mean?

Someone who has completed a bachelor's degree.

What is the typical length of a graduate program?

Usually 3-4 years.

What is a postgraduate?

A student who is studying beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Can a graduate directly enroll in a postgraduate program?

Yes, if they meet the program's entry requirements.

Is work experience required for postgraduate studies?

It depends on the program and field of study.

What degrees can postgraduates pursue?

Master's or doctoral degrees.

Can you be a graduate student and a postgraduate at the same time?

No, these terms represent consecutive stages of education.

What degree do you get when you graduate?

Typically a bachelor's degree.

Do postgraduates write a thesis?

Often, especially for master's and doctoral programs.

Is a master's degree graduate or postgraduate?


Do postgraduate programs have more rigorous admission criteria?

Generally, yes, due to the advanced nature of study.

Are postgraduate studies necessary for academia?

Yes, especially for university teaching and research positions.

Can graduates pursue careers outside their field of study?

Often, yes, as graduate degrees provide versatile skills.

Can graduate studies include research?

Yes, though it's usually less extensive than in postgraduate studies.

What's the difference in job prospects for graduates vs. postgraduates?

Postgraduates often qualify for higher-level, specialized positions.

Do postgraduates have a higher earning potential?

Typically, yes, due to higher qualifications.

Is a doctoral degree the highest level of postgraduate study?

Yes, it represents the pinnacle of academic achievement.

Are postgraduate studies more specialized?

Yes, they focus on advanced research and specialization.

Are graduate degrees sufficient for professional careers?

Usually, but some fields require postgraduate qualifications.

What is the focus of graduate education?

Broad foundational knowledge in a particular field.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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