Pathways to further study

Take the smart pathway from Diploma to Bachelor Degree

An ACAP diploma can be used as more than a qualification to gain employment. A diploma can also be the start of a pathway to a higher education qualification – with notable benefits.

Whether you want an alternative way to gain entry into our degrees, or simply want to try out a study path so you can confirm your longer-term career goals, starting with a diploma and progressing into a degree could suit your needs.

Our diploma-to-bachelor pathway lets you explore career opportunities, discover your talents and develop professional interests, while achieving your learning milestones.

What is an academic pathway to higher education?

An academic pathway is the progression of your studies from vocational (Diploma) to undergraduate (Bachelor) level. You will gain credit for units studied in your diploma and this will shorten the length of your Bachelor level studies.

Bachelor level study also opens up opportunities to postgraduate study, which has the potential to advance your career prospects even further.

Is pathway study right for you?

A pathway approach to undergraduate study is ideal for students:

  • Wanting to take time to define their career options and interests with informed choices prior to committing to a bachelor
  • Who have not undertaken tertiary study before
  • Seeking a career change into a job in a new field
  • Looking to enhance their current skills in existing roles or for career progression
  • Are 17-20 years of age and have not met the ATAR entry requirements of an ACAP bachelor program

Diploma career pathways at a glance

ACAP diploma courses can lead to rewarding jobs and careers in Community Services, Youth Work, Counselling, Coaching or Social Work.

Keep in mind that not all diplomas articulate into all bachelor courses. For example, the Diploma of Youth Work leads into the Bachelor of Social Work and the Bachelor of Criminal Justice with our partner college Navitas College of Public Safety (NCPS) only. While the Diploma of Counselling and Diploma of Community Services provide entry into any bachelor offered at ACAP.

Diploma of Counselling

Take the first step towards a fulfilling career supporting people or groups in managing life’s challenges. Professional Counsellors apply a cultural and social context to analysing problems and communicating effective solutions that alleviate distress and enable personal growth in their clients.

ACAP’s Diploma of Counselling CHC51712 is a nationally recognised qualification that not only leads to a wide range of career outcomes but also provides the foundation skills for transition to the full range of our bachelor degree programs.

Graduates earn eight unit credits towards the Bachelor of Counselling, Bachelor of Counselling (Coaching), Bachelor of Psychological Science, Bachelor of Applied Social Science, Associate Degree of Applied Social Science; or six credits towards the Bachelor of Social Work.

Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)

Case management is a service delivery skill focusing on identifying client needs and implementing strategies aimed to resolve specific issues.

Case managers are employed in organisations such as community health centres, family support services, government agencies, drug rehabilitation and refugee support services, youth centres and women’s health centres.

The Diploma of Community Services (Case Management) CHC52015 is a nationally recognised qualification that not only leads to a wide range of career outcomes but also earns its graduates eight credit units towards the Bachelor of Counselling, Bachelor of Counselling (Coaching), Bachelor of Psychological Science, Bachelor of Applied Social Science, Associate Degree of Applied Social Science and Bachelor of Social Work.

Diploma of Youth Work

Professional Youth Workers produce programs within a social and cultural context to create positive outcomes for young people affected by family breakdown, homelessness, mental health issues and juvenile justice.

ACAP’s Diploma of Youth Work CHC50413 is a nationally-recognised qualification that prepares graduates for work in agencies or youth programs.

This course provides a pathway for further study into the Bachelor of Social Work, with eight unit credits granted to successful applicants.  Alternatively, there is also the option to articulate into the Bachelor of Criminal Justice with NCPS.

Take the next step

Contact us to have your pathway questions answered, or apply now to secure your place in the next intake.

Your pathway study questions answered 

Considering an academic pathway

 What are the benefits of a bachelor degree?

Bachelor level study offers the general advantages of:

  • A deeper and broader knowledge-base in a specialised area
  • Broader employment opportunities and higher salaries at graduation
  • Practical field experience and networking during work placements*
  • Career advancement at an accelerated rate
  • Professional confidence and valuable research skills
  • Eligibility for postgraduate study and professional registration

*Where applicable; not all bachelor courses include placements. 

 Do Bachelor and Diploma study have the same structure?

The course structures are similar in that they are both delivered over three trimesters commencing in February, June and September and can be studied on-campus, online or via blended delivery depending on the course and location.

Full-time or part-time study options are available for both Diploma and Bachelor courses which can range from one to three units per term, some Bachelor courses will allow you to increase your study load to four subjects per term.

Bachelor students can expect to attend a three-hour class each week per subject although students undertaking the Bachelor of Psychological Sciences would attend a combination of three-hour classes, one-hour tutorials and three-hour lectures, depending on the subjects.

It is important to note that not all subjects are offered in each mode, i.e. on-campus, online and blended delivery availability differs between subjects in some cases.

To find out the particular class structure and workload components of a particular course, call our course advisers, who can provide all details, including timetable, location, availability, application deadline, fees and other information.

Call us on 1800 061 199 with any specific questions about bachelor course loads and timetables.  

 I'm worried about moving into a bachelor, how do students cope with the workload?

The content you covered and the time management skills developed during your diploma studies will have set a good foundation for the bachelor program content and workload. Past students have indicated that they have a good basic understanding of the field’s theories and feel rewarded by the greater depth of topic coverage by bachelor level study.

As long as you remain well organised and don’t let the work build up or leave assignments to the last minute, your bachelor studies should be a fulfilling and successful experience. Remember, you can call on the Student Learning Support team for a range of services and advice to assist you with your progress or any unexpected difficulties. The Bachelor Explorer module will also assist in your preparation. 

 What if I'm finding the bachelor difficult?

ACAP teachers and staff have a lot of experience assisting students throughout the transition from a diploma to a bachelor. 

Throughout your course you can approach your teachers and the Learning Support team, librarians, Student Counsellors and Access Ability staff. You also have the option to spread your study load out over a longer period to better focus on your units each trimester.

 What academic support services are available?

The Student Learning Support (SLS) team can assist you in a wide variety of areas including:

  • Academic writing
  • Lab reports
  • Preparing for assessments
  • Referencing
  • Exam preparation
  • Presentation skills
  • Time management

Appointments with SLS staff can be on campus, by phone or via video conference. They also run on-campus and online events, provide online resources on a website dedicated to student support, and host a YouTube channel

 Will I be behind students that started with the bachelor rather than the diploma?

Most students who take this pathway feel they are not behind students who started directly in a bachelor program. They often feel they are in fact ahead, in terms of practical skills in their field, for example counselling or coaching skills.

However, if you’re coming from a diploma and have not written bachelor level assignments before, you do need to learn how to reference and structure essays and prepare other types of assignments relevant to your course.

Some courses offer a unit designed to build these skills, such as Preparation for Academic Study in the Bachelor of Counselling, Bachelor of Counselling (Coaching), Bachelor of Applied Social Science and the Associate Degree of Applied Social Science. Otherwise, all students have access to academic support in this area from Student Learning Support, teachers and library staff.  

Course and academic information

 What are the different academic requirements between a diploma and a bachelor?

Overall bachelor courses have greater academic requirements than diplomas, with all students well supported by their teachers and the Student Learning Support team as they encounter new learning methods and assessments.  

Some key differences include:


In general, bachelor degree assessments require longer word counts and have specific structures, a greater emphasis on critical thinking and referencing. For research assignments you are expected to include additional sources to those provided by the teacher.

Critical thinking

Theories covered in a bachelor program are covered in greater detail when compared to a diploma course. You will also critically analyse and compare theories and your studies will focus more on objective topic examination, rather than on reflecting on your own experiences.

Independent study

Most bachelor subjects have an allocated text book and you will find that you are dedicating more time on reading class material and research throughout the term.

School of Counselling

Assessment types for bachelor study vary and include a mix of essays, reflective essays, case studies and literature reviews. Students who pathway from a diploma to a bachelor in the School of Counselling including the Bachelor of Counselling, Bachelor of Counselling (Coaching), Bachelor of Applied Social Science and the Associate Degree of Applied Social Science  will complete the unit Preparation for Academic Study, which covers these new skills.

School of Social Work

Students commencing the Bachelor of Social Work will complete the unit ‘Introduction to Human Services’. This unit provides students with an introduction to the human services sector by identifying historical factors, theories, philosophical and legal building blocks that underpin policies and service provisions. There are a range of assessment types in this program including; group work, literature reviews, essays, critical reflections and role plays and large field education component.  The professional body the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) accredits the program in line with its prescribed subject content, ethics and practice standards.

School of Psychological Science

A range of assessments are used in this program. These include lab reports, essays, quizzes, and all psychology units have end of trimester exams.  For this subject area, many of the assessments are prescribed by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC).

If you are an ACAP diploma student wondering what the transition will be like, Student Learning Support offers a Bachelor Explorer module that provides an insight into the differences between study levels. All students gain access to this online module closer to the completion of their Diploma, it is accessible through the student portal. Visit the Student Learning Support website to view a full range of academic support services.  

 Do I need to organise my own placement?

Yes, you will need to organise your own placement if it is included in your course. Students seek their own placement opportunities for the benefit of direct and prompt communication on personal suitability of agencies to professional interests and career goals, and ensuring placement hours can be structured around personal, study or work commitments without schedule conflicts.

ACAP has strong industry connections and a dedicated in-house placement team to assist you throughout the process. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane campuses hold placement events for some schools where agencies provide representatives to exhibit and answer student questions about placement opportunities face-to-face.

Placements take place in the final year of the bachelor program, giving you time to understand the field and develop your field experience preferences and priorities. We recommend you undertake volunteer work early in your studies, in an agency where you would like to do your placement, so they get to know you, and to develop confidence in communication and practical skills in the field.

To find out more about ACAP placements and related student support, visit our placements webpage or call our course advisers on 1800 061 199.

 How much independent study is expected when studying a bachelor?

The time committed to study varies depending on personal learning styles and academic backgrounds. Most students report spending two to three times more on independent study during their bachelor course than during their diploma.

Study time allocation guide:

Bachelor of Psychological Science

ACAP’s School of Psychology recommends dedicating 9 to 10 hours of study time per unit per week, made up of a three-hour lecture and one hour tutorial, plus four to five hours of independent study for reading, assignment preparation, etc.

Bachelor of Social Work

Our School of Social Work recommends one hour of independent study for each hour of class time. It is also a good idea to also spend time in discussion and studying with fellow students.

Bachelors of Counselling, Counselling (Coaching) and Applied Social Science

The School of Counselling recommends between five and eight hours of independent study per unit each week, in addition to the three-hour class for each unit, if studying on-campus.

 Can I study the Bachelor course online?

Depending on the course, bachelor subjects may be available on-campus, online and through blended delivery. Confirm the delivery modes for your preferred course here

 Do I have to study in consecutive trimesters?

No. As with the diploma, you have the options to take a break and defer your studies. To do so, you will need to contact your local Campus Administration team.

Application process

 When would I submit an application to pathway from a diploma to a bachelor?

If you wish to move seamlessly to a Bachelor program without a break, we recommend you submit your online application during your final term of the diploma as this will give you sufficient time to complete your application and schedule your classes. 

 Do I need to complete the diploma before starting the bachelor?

To apply for the bachelor you need to have either completed your diploma or be in your final term of diploma study. If final diploma grades have not been issued prior to commencing the bachelor you will be enrolled with a provisional status, which will be updated as soon as your remaining grades are received. Full credits apply towards your bachelor when you have completed the diploma.

 How do I apply to pathway to a bachelor degree?

Simply complete an online application form on the ACAP website by clicking ‘How to Apply’. A course adviser will then assist you in selecting subjects and timetables, understanding FEE-HELP if applicable, and they will liaise with the School to ensure your Diploma credits are allocated.

Keep in mind that each Bachelor course has slightly different entry requirements, for example the Bachelor of Counselling application requires completion of an undergraduate screening questionnaire. All of the entry requirements are listed under each specific bachelor in the ‘How to Apply’ section on the website. 

 How will I know what subjects to start with when I pathway from a diploma to a bachelor?

Your diploma credits may be distributed between the first and second year, leaving you with a set of key bachelor subjects to complete. Your course adviser will assist you in selecting units that best fit your sequence and structuring your subjects around other commitments.

 How many credits do I receive for completing a diploma with ACAP?

The number of credits available for a diploma-to-bachelor pathway varies from six to eight, depending on the diploma completed and the bachelor program chosen. Refer to the study pathways diagrams to determine how many credits apply to your application.

Your course adviser will confirm your credited subjects and liaise with the school to manage credit details for you.

 Do credits apply if I have completed a diploma with another institute?

You may be eligible for credits towards an ACAP bachelor degree in some instances, if you have completed qualifications at another institute or if you have extensive relevant work experience.

For details, please refer to this online form or call our course advisers on 1800 061 199.

 Do I need to apply for the credits?

No, once you have submitted your application form for the bachelor your course adviser will liaise with the School on your behalf and have your credits applied. Keep in mind that in some instances your credits will not appear in your student portal until part-way through your first term. 

 For how long are my credits valid?

Your credits will be valid for ten years although the number of credits you receive towards ACAP pathways can change over time. Your course adviser can confirm what credits apply to your bachelor at the time of enrolment. 

 How do I pay fees for the Bachelor course?

Similar to your diploma, you can access government loans such as FEE-HELP to assist with the cost of studying. You can complete an online FEE-HELP application form as part of your online application process. It is recommended you read the FEE-HELP information booklet. 

Alternatively, you can pay your term fees upfront prior to the commencement of the term. Visit our Tuition Fees page for more details. Your course adviser will also guide you through the process.