Graduate program

Applications for the 2020 policy and management graduate programs have now closed. Applications for the 2021 programs will open in February 2020.

Our two-year graduate programs will kick start your career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). In 2020, DFAT will offer two graduate programs based in Canberra: policy and corporate management.


DFAT is looking for candidates who are curious about the world and interested in taking up a challenge. You will have a strong record of academic achievement with at least a credit average as well as extra-curricular interests. You may have work experience, paid or unpaid, from any background, but you will have a genuine interest in Australia’s foreign, development and trade policy interests, including in the international and domestic policy contexts.

Corporate Management

DFAT is seeking outstanding graduates who want a diverse career in corporate management and are interested in contributing to the management of DFAT’s corporate enabling services and service delivery. You will have a strong record of academic achievement with at least a credit average in disciplines with corporate management skillsets such as project management, communications, finance and human resource management. You may have work experience, paid or unpaid, from any background, but you must have a genuine interest in corporate management. You will be a forward thinker and have sound judgement with the ability to problem solve and be a logical decision-maker.

More information will be available in the relevant position descriptions when applications open.

During the course of these programs, 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 four work placements, giving you first hand experience of the department’s diverse range of priorities, including:

  • Policy
    • Bilateral economic and political relations
    • International trade negotiations, investment and economic analysis
    • Humanitarian assistance
    • International development and aid program management
    • International security
    • Public diplomacy
    • Commercial, administrative and international law
    • Multilateral and global issues
    • Consular and passport services
  • Corporate Management
    • Financial and asset management
    • Media
    • Human Resources
    • Procurement & Contract Management
    • Records Management
    • Overseas Property Management
    • Consular and passport services
    • ICT & Cyber Security

After you have successfully completed the program, you will be promoted to an ongoing APS 4 position in Canberra. You will also be eligible to apply for positions in one of our overseas posts, although you can expect to work in Canberra for at least a couple of years building your knowledge and expertise before being ready to take up a position overseas.

All backgrounds

We welcome candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds. Each year we select a mix of fresh graduates and graduates with several years of professional experience under their belt. DFAT places no limits on the age of candidates.

The graduate programs take on candidates looking for a career as a policy officer as well as those keen to work in corporate management roles.

For the 2020 program, DFAT is also focusing on graduates with strengths in:

  • economics, international development and law
  • language skills particularly in Asian and Indo-Pacific languages
  • corporate management disciplines such as management and human resources, finance, accounting, business, and marketing.

Eligibility requirements

You must meet DFAT’s eligibility requirements to apply for the 2020 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 2019, with at least a credit average or higher; 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.

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. For the 2020 graduate programs this will likely be around May to June 2019. 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.


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

Last Updated: 20 February 2019

Graduate program applications

Applications for the 2020 policy and management graduate programs will open on 22 February 2019, 9am AEST and close 25 March 2019, 2pm AEST.