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Frequently Asked Questions

Defence Graduate Program

Do I have to move to Canberra?

It depends which stream of the Defence Graduate Program you successfully join.

Positions for the Corporate, Policy and Intelligence Pathways will be located in Canberra with a possibility of interstate rotation placements during the program.

A limited number of regional rotations may be available in second and third rotations. These rotations are at selected Defence establishments across Australia. You will have the opportunity to nominate your choices for placements during second and third rotations.

Positions within Capability Pathway and Navy Civilian Engineer Development Program (CEDP) may be located in one of the regional establishments across Australia with rotations during the program comprising at least one rotation in Canberra.

The Department of Defence offers generous relocation support and assistance if you are required to relocate.

More information about living and working in Canberra

What is the Graduate Program like?

Diverse and engaging!

If you would like to find out more about what the program is like from one of our Graduates, you can read about their days, stories and experiences.

Graduates are provided with diverse and meaningful workplace rotations which vary in length depending upon your development Pathway. The focus is on skills development with variety as the key.

Rotations are available in a wide range of functions and work areas. Graduates recruited as specialists will undertake specialised training identified as necessary for their end of program placement, with at least one external rotation during the program to take you out of your comfort zone.

Graduates requiring corporate exposure will have rotations tailored to provide insight to different areas of Defence relevant to their development pathway as to develop a holistic understanding and appreciation of the Department.

Depending upon your development program you may also partake in off the job training, social events, study tours, excursions across the wider APS and Government or other activities relevant to your pathway to develop your professional knowledge and network.

I'm not an Australian citizen, can I apply?

No, to be eligible to work in the Defence Department you MUST BE an Australian Citizen (if you are a dual Australian citizen, you are eligible to apply for the Defence Graduate Program).

Applicants applying for citizenship at the time of application must have gained citizenship three months prior to commencement of the program.

What training and activities will I have access to?

General skills training offered across the Department for graduates and may include:

  • Strategy and policy,
  • Presentation skills,
  • Communication and Influencing skills,
  • Employability and career development guidance,
  • Leadership and supervisory skills,
  • Defence writing, and
  • Ministerial writing.

Additional development program and rotation specific training is provided to specialist development Pathways.

Following your Graduate Program, further personal and professional development opportunities are actively encouraged. Defence can offer a variety of assistance, ranging from study leave to financial assistance.

Can I apply for more than one stream?


You can apply for up to two streams, if you meet the degree requirements for each stream. To do this, you will select your first and second preferences during the selection process.

Do I need a credit average to apply?

It depends which stream you’re applying to.

Applicants for the following Pathways must have attained a minimum of Credit average for their relevant degree:

  • Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO)
  • Commercial Stream
  • Finance Stream
  • Generalist Stream
  • Policy Stream
  • Estate and Infrastructure Stream

You can also access the full list of Eligibility Requirements for more detail.

What is the selection process like?

Applicants initially have to submit an online written application addressing specified eligibility criterion and complete online aptitude testing. Post aptitude testing, should you be eligible to continue with your application, you will then be invited to submit your written selection criteria. The application and psychometric test results and selection criteria are assessed, ranked and shortlisted.

Shortlist pools are then created from which you may be invited to attend assessment centre for the graduate Pathway for which your application has been selected. The Intelligence Stream requires additional screening sessions as part of their security assessment process. All screening and assessment centres are held across Australia during May, June and July. The assessment centre is the final stage of the recruitment process before job offers are made.

You can visit Application and Selection Process for more detail.

When will you be making offers to successful applicants?

The timing of your offer will depend upon Defence workforce requirements and will take into account which Stream(s) and intake(s) you have identified on your application. All offers will have been made prior to November and unsuccessful candidates will be notified.

If successful, initially you will be notified via the telephone to ascertain your continued interest in a position. Upon verbal confirmation, a formal written letter of offer will be sent. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified via email.

When does the next program commence?

All graduate Streams offer at least one intake in February of each year. The Intelligence Streams and Capability Pathway also offer an additional mid-year intake in June and September respectively.

Are you looking for people with specific degrees?

Yes and no, we are certainly looking for graduates from all disciplines and there are opportunities for specialists as well as generalists.

Explore the website to find out what opportunities are available for your degree type and make sure you come talk to us at a Careers Fair near you, or email us if you’re still not sure.

What's the starting salary?

Defence APS staff are employed under the Defence Enterprise Collective Agreement. Graduates for all development pathways will commence on a salary of Defence APS 4: $67,100 pa plus 15.4% superannuation. Upon successful completion of the Defence Graduate Program, graduates will advance to a minimum of $76,215 plus 15.4% superannuation.

I graduated a while ago, am I eligible for the Graduate Development Program?

Yes, all degree qualified applicants will be considered in conjunction with the contemporary relevance of your qualification. For instance, degree holders who graduated a few years ago but have continued to professionalise your qualification through further study, work experience and/or exposure to industry may be considered to have enhanced the original qualification and may be found suitable.

To satisfy the eligibility requirements you must have completed an undergraduate or post graduate degree, recognised in Australia, before you commence any Defence graduate development program.

Do you have age limits for applicants?

No. All graduates are selected on their capabilities and demonstrated competence against the selection criteria. Our graduates come from a wide range of backgrounds, experience and stages of life – from newly graduated to people with many years of study and work experience.

How many positions are available?

This number varies each year, however over the last few years we have recruited more than 300 graduates across the Department each year.

How many people usually apply?

Defence averages around 5000 applications each year. This is shortlisted to approximately 1000 candidates who are invited to attend assessment centres across all streams around Australia.

What does a security clearance involve?

It is a condition of employment in the Department of Defence that you obtain and maintain a security clearance. The level and requirements of obtaining the clearance vary depending upon your intended work area. See our information on eligibility for more information.

For any level of security clearance, you will be asked to provide comprehensive information about yourself, your dependants and give the Department the right to check any information which you provide with relevant authorities such as the Australian Federal Police and financial institutions. Only the candidates who accept a position on a program undergo a security clearance.

Can I apply for other positions in Defence, outside the graduate programs?

Yes, there are other ways to join the Department – visit Careers in Defence to find out more. For final year university students, or recent university graduates, roles at the APS 3-4 level may be most suitable depending upon your work and professional experience.

Can I do voluntary/casual/vacation/work experience with Defence?

Yes, a work experience program is available. Details can be found by emailing:

I will finish my degree in December, but I have to start applying in March before I have finished my degree, am I still eligible?

Yes, you are and we encourage all undergraduates to apply during their final year of study. You will be required to provide proof of your degree completion prior to commencement.

What does a medical clearance involve?

A Commonwealth medical clearance is a standard condition of employment in the Australian Public Service. The medical clearance is designed to ensure that you are fit to work in the Department. Only the candidates successful in the final selection process may be required to undergo a medical check.

We have attempted to answer the majority of the questions we are frequently asked above, but if you’ve any more that we haven’t covered, feel free to contact us at