Eligibility requirements

To be eligible to apply for graduate employment within the Department of Defence you must meet all of the following criteria.

  • You must be an Australian Citizen three months prior to program commencement. 
  • All applicants must be Australian citizens to be eligible for engagement as an employee under the Public Service Act 1999 and Intelligence Services Act (2001) for  APS and ASD employees respectively. Applicants for the Defence Graduate Program must be Australian citizens at the time of application, or have applied for citizenship.
  • You must be prepared to meet security clearance requirements outlined further below.
  • Prior to commencing the Defence Graduate Program you must have completed a Bachelors degree (minimum of three years), recognised in Australia.
  • Applicants most recent tertiary qualification must be completed within five years at time of application. 
  • Applicants for the Policy and Corporate and Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) Pathways require a credit average at the time of application and must graduate with a minimum of a credit (or equivalent) average to be eligible to commence the program.
  • Applicants for the Research and Innovation Pathway must have obtained a Bachelor with Honours Degree within the last two years  prior to program commencement.
  • Applicants for the Technical Pathway (Engineering roles) must satisfy the requirements for membership in Engineers Australia (Stage 1 Engineering competency).
  • You must be prepared to undergo a medical clearance by a Commonwealth Medical Officer.
  • You must be prepared to relocate to Canberra, capital city or regional area of Australia for development or final placement (Defence will provide assistance with domestic relocation costs and arrangements).
  • Applicants who are successful at the written application stage of the selection process may be invited to attend a Psychological Screening Session and a virtual Assessment Centre. For your application to be considered further you must attend these scheduled sessions. Please see Key Dates for details. Assistance will be provided, where possible, to accommodate applicants with special requirements or a disability.

Further details are provided below.


Under the Public Service Act (1999) and Intelligence Services Act (2001) all applicants must be Australian citizens to be eligible for engagement as an employee of the Department. To be considered for employment with the Defence Graduate Program, applicants must hold Australian citizenship, or have applied for citizenship upon applying for the program. If successful, the clearance process cannot begin until such time as citizenship is granted. Delays caused by non-citizenship could result in the offer being rescinded.


Graduate positions require you to have completed at a minimum a three year Bachelor degree, recognised in Australia, within five years of application. If you haven't completed your degree at the time of application and assessment, you will be asked to verify successful completion at a later date and prior to entry to the program. Please refer above for specific stream requirements.

If you hold international qualifications, you will need to provide us with a statement verifying recognition of your qualifications. Your qualifications can be verified from either the:

  • National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition.
  • State or Territory Overseas Qualifications Unit.

To be eligible for the program, you will need to provide us with a statement verifying recognition of your qualifications. We will not consider your application further without this supporting documentation. This documentation is required if you are invited to attend an assessment centre.

More information is available from Australian Education International.


Most Defence Graduate Program positions are located in Canberra, or you will be required to undertake a mandatory rotation to Canberra throughout the program. If you do not reside in Canberra you must be prepared to relocate to Canberra (see below regarding Research and innovation pathway).

You will be required to relocate to Canberra or other regional area of Australia for development or final placement for positions within the Defence Capability Pathway.

Defence will provide assistance with domestic relocation costs and arrangements.

Research and innovation pathway graduates could be located within a number of states across Australia (Adelaide and Melbourne most likely) and will not be required to undertake a mandatory rotation to Canberra. If you are outside of the geographic area and you are successful in gaining a position, you must be willing to relocate.

Security and character clearances

All positions within Defence will require you to obtain some level of security clearance to be eligible for employment, which will include a variety of background checks. Security clearance assessments are undertaken by the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA). Before applying you will need to consider whether you are willing to provide personal information in order to meet these requirements. Failure to meet the minimum security requirements of an advertised position will result in your application being unsuccessful. Information, including frequently asked questions, is available from AGSVA Getting a Clearance.

Depending on the level of clearance required for the position, Defence may look into police records, employment history, credit ratings, as well as contact professional and personal referees to provide character references. You must be able to provide background information to AGSVA to cover the relevant period of time in line with the required security clearance. This will include providing Australian Citizens as referees (including any period spent overseas)

All positions within the following programs require a Negative Vetting Level 1 (NV1) clearance:

  • Defence Policy
  • Engineering
  • Estate and Infrastructure
  • Finance
  • Generalist
  • Human Resources
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Logistics
  • Maritime Engineering and Naval Construction
  • Naval Civilian Engineering Development Program
  • Commercial
  • Research and innovation*

*Some positions within the Research and innovation pathway may require a higher clearance, however NV1 will be the minimum for commencement.

All positions within the Intelligence Pathway require a Positive Vetting (PV) security clearance. This includes within the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO), Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), and Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). This requires you to have whole of life checkable background and undergo a psychological assessment of your suitability to work in the Defence intelligence environment; refer to AGSVA Information regarding PV clearance assessments (PDF) regarding psychological assessments.

Psychological assessment

A psychological assessment determines whether you have the intellectual and interpersonal skills to work in a high security environment. Psychological assessments are mandatory for all potential and existing AGO, DIO and ASD employees, including military personnel and contractors. For security reasons, individual feedback regarding the Psychological Assessment will not be given to applicants.

To work in some areas of Defence, it is necessary to complete a Psychological Assessment. This assessment is a mandatory requirement to work in the Defence intelligence agencies, as well as other areas of Defence that handle, or have access to, sensitive information. His requirement applies to all categories of employees in such work areas, including Australian Public Service (APS) personnel, Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and contractors. Psychological assessments are conducted to determine suitability to work in a high security environment and/or to hold a Top Secret Positive Vetting (TSPV) security clearance. You must obtain and maintain a TSPV security clearance to work in designated areas of Defence, including the Defence intelligence agencies.

The Defence intelligence agencies comprise of the Australian Signals Directorate, the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation. These agencies belong to the Australian Intelligence Community and, as such, may exchange psychological information with other agencies in the community on security matters. If a Psychological Assessment is being conducted for a Defence intelligence agency, written consent to the exchange of information to allow this will be sought at the time of the assessment. Written consent will also be sought to allow relevant considerations from the Psychological Assessment to be provide to the appropriate person (e.g. selection delegate or manager) for use in the recruitment decision-making process. Refusal to provide this consent will prevent the Psychological Assessment and security clearance processes from proceeding.

The Psychological Assessment is an integrated assessment tool which comprises the completion of a consent form, written psychological tests, a face-to-face interview(s) with a registered psychologist, and a written report completed by the interviewing psychologist. You may be asked to participate in further psychological testing if required. The assessment is administered in a manger which ensures informed consent, fair dealing with all applicants and employees, and the greatest possible degree of privacy and transparency of process.

Before you submit an application you should consider your own preparedness for questions that may include the following topics: personal relationships, living circumstances, personal values, financial situation, physical and mental health history including substance use, and any civil and/or military record. The process is necessarily more intrusive than you will encounter in most other employment applications but it is important that you be honest and accurate in disclosing details about yourself. If you feel uncomfortable about having to disclose such detail then please think carefully before applying.

Your written consent will also be sought to allow your personal information collected as part of the Psychological Assessment to be use for psychological research purposes. Refusal to provide consent has no bearing on the conduct or outcome of the Psychological Assessment and security clearance processes.

It is important that you do not discuss details of any aspect of the Psychological Assessment with others, including details of the psychological questionnaires, your responses or the interview. If you are an APS or ADF member, you are required under the Public Service Regulations and Defence Instructions not to disclose official information, including information regarding the Psychological Assessment. If you are not an APS or ADF member, you will be asked not to disclose such information.


With regard to your psychological testing, you will have the opportunity to clarify your responses with the psychologist at the time of the psychological interview.

If you are currently employed in the Australian Intelligence Community or the ADF, you will be provided with feedback on your Psychological Assessment if the outcome has an adverse bearing on your current employment.

Privacy and access to personal information

The Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act) imposes obligations on the Department of Defence in relation to the collection, storage, access, alteration, use and disclosure of personal information1. These obligations are set out in Section 14 of the Privacy Act as the Information Privacy Principles.

Your application and the personal information you provide will be handled in the strictest confidence. The department of Defence is required to ensure, as far as possible, that the personal information collected is relevant to the purpose for which it is collected. You personal information may be only used or disclosed for other purposes in accordance with the Privacy Act. Circumstances that would require this include enforcement of the criminal law, where required or authorised by law, or to prevent or lessen a serious threat to life or health.

The Psychological Assessment is conducted by registered psychologists in accordance with the Australian Psychological Society Code of Ethics, You will be able to confirm and, if necessary, correct your personal information with the psychologist at the time of your interview. Information obtained through the assessment process is stored and managed in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 and the Privacy Act.

If you have undertaken a Psychological Assessment conducted by the Department of Defence, you are able to request access to your personal information under the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act). Notwithstanding this, the Defence intelligence agencies have exemptions under the FOI Act that my limit access to Psychological Assessment material. Other exemptions may also apply.