Graduate program

Our two-year graduate program will kick-start your career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). During the course of the program, you will undertake a tailored learning package delivered through the Diplomatic Academy. You will develop a broad knowledge and understanding of the Government’s foreign, trade and aid policy priorities and the department’s financial and corporate context. You will also complete five work placements, giving you firsthand experience of the department’s diverse range of priorities, including:

  • Bilateral economic and political relations
  • International trade negotiations, investment and economic analysis
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Development and aid program management
  • International security
  • Public diplomacy
  • Commercial, administrative and international law
  • Multilateral and global issues
  • Financial, human and asset management
  • Consular and passport services.

After you have completed the program, you will have an ongoing APS 4 position in Canberra. You will also be eligible to apply for positions in one of our overseas posts, although it can be a few years before graduates take up overseas positions.

Applications for the 2019 graduate program have closed. Applications for the 2020 graduate program will open in February 2019.

All levels

DFAT places no limits on the age of applicants. You should have completed your most recent degree no more than five years prior to applying. Each year we select a mix of fresh graduates and graduates with several years of professional experience under their belt.

All backgrounds

We welcome applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds. In previous years we have accepted people with backgrounds from economics to zoology, marketing to counter-terrorism, law to development studies. The graduate program takes on candidates looking for a career as a generalist policy officer as well as those keen to work in corporate management roles.

Applying from overseas

A number of successful candidates apply from overseas each year. The majority of the application process is conducted online, however, the very final stage requires an in-person assessment and interview in Australia, likely to be around May to June 2018. Overseas candidates will be given first preference for date selection. If you are overseas and shortlisted for interview, you will need to travel to Australia at your own expense.

If you are successful in securing a recommendation for engagement through the graduate recruitment process, you will be required to undergo a security clearance process. This will include a second face-to-face interview in Australia. If you are overseas, you will need to travel to Canberra at your own expense to undertake the security interview. Interviews cannot be conducted by phone or over video messaging services such as Skype.

Eligibility requirements

You must meet DFAT’s eligibility requirements to apply for the graduate program. In addition to these requirements:

  • you must be an Australian Citizen at the time of application, and
  • you must have finished at least a bachelor degree by 31 December 2018, and
  • your most recent degree  must be no more than five years old on the date you lodge your application.

If your only qualification is from an overseas institution, please upload Australian documentation recognising your qualification(s).  Please refer to the Department of Education and Training website for more information about recognition of overseas qualifications.

If you have at least one tertiary qualification from Australia, you may provide documentation recognising your other international qualifications during later stages of the selection process.

In accordance with Section 22 (6) of the Public Service Act 1999, a security clearance is a condition of employment for employees of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


If you have questions about the application or selection process for our graduate program, please contact our graduate recruitment team, at

Meet some of our graduates

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Last Updated: 26 February 2018