Aims and objectives. To identify the expectations and workforce intentions of new graduate midwives from two different pre-registration educational courses at one Australian university. Background. In Australia there are two different educational pathways to midwifery qualification, one offered for registered nurses, commonly at a postgraduate level and the other for non-nurses, at an undergraduate level. The knowledge about midwifery graduates in general is reasonably limited and there is no specific research that examines the similarities and differences between graduates from the two different courses. Design. A cross-sectional design was used. Method. Data were collected by questionnaire from both undergraduate and postgraduate midwifery graduates in 2007 and 2008 at one Australian university. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Results. Almost all the graduates from the two different pre-registration courses intended to enter the midwifery workforce with both groups rating the factors that influenced this decision similarly. There were, however, significant differences in graduates age and their intention to work part time. Their views of their ideal roles and subsequent uptake into formal new graduate transition programmes differed. Graduates from the two courses also reported philosophical differences regarding their concepts of job satisfaction and ways their jobs could be improved. Conclusions. The graduates from the two different courses showed sufficient significant differences to warrant consideration in current workforce planning for midwifery. Relevance to clinical practice. The factors that influence the career decisions of new graduate midwives can positively impact educational and workforce planning. The findings may be able to help inform strategies to address turnover and attrition in midwifery. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.