Difference Between Degree and Diploma


Generally, both degree and diploma are academic awards conferred on a person on the successful completion of an educational course. However, there exists a difference between degree and diploma.

A degree is an academic award conferred on a person by an accredited or recognized university whereas a diploma is an award conferred on a person by a private educational or vocational institution or polytechnic. In general, a degree course is completed in 3-4 years while a diploma course is completed with 1-2 years.

After the completion of the Secondary Secondary School Examination, there are two options open to a person, i.e. either to pursue a degree or a diploma course. It is also worthy of note that the diploma and degree courses are not only associated with bachelor’s program but also at the postgraduate, master’s and associate level too.

Difference Between Degree and Diploma

So, one needs to understand the difference between a degree and diploma course completely, before going for any of these two.

Definition of Degree

A degree is a certificate given to a student by an accredited and recognized university or college for the successful completion of his/her studies in a course at a particular level. Students can pursue degree courses after passing the higher secondary examination. Degree certificates are awarded to the students in the convocation ceremony organized by the university or college. There are four (4) major types of degree, and they are;

  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor Degree
  • Master Degree
  • Doctorate Degree

The duration of a degree program varies from 3 to 4 years. Aside from theoretical knowledge, students have to go for an internship for a period of 3-6 months. The benefit of pursuing a degree course is that students get jobs easily in a short period of time. The curriculum of a degree course focuses mainly on the specialization chosen by students. Some examples of Degree Courses are B. Com, B.Sc, MBA, B.E., B. Tech, B.A. B.Pharm., M.E., M. Tech. etc.

Definition of Diploma

A diploma is a certificate given to a student by an accredited and recognized university or an educational institution for the successful completion of a course of study. The admission to diploma course can be taken after the Senior High School examination. They are two major types of diploma certificate, they are:

  • Graduate Diploma
  • Post Graduate Diploma

Students pursuing a diploma course gets a thorough knowledge of the particular course. The duration of the diploma program varies from 1 to 2 years. The primary benefit of pursuing a diploma course is that it takes less time and money. Also, the curriculum of a diploma course is framed in such a way that students get more practical knowledge on the particular course.  Some examples of diploma courses include DCA, PGDCA, PGUDPL, PDGM, etc.

Differences Between Degree and Diploma

Below are some of the known differences between degree and diploma.

1. A degree course emphasizes significance on academics. On the other hand, diploma focuses on getting a person trained and qualified in a particular business or trade.

2. Degree programs are available for different and varied subjects while diplomas are most often available in subjects that focus on a profession and skills.

3. Degree courses are usually more expensive as compared to the diploma courses.

4. Most degree courses are completed between 3-4 years while diploma courses are completed between 1-2 years

5. Most universities have made a degree certificate a prerequisite for enroling in a master’s program. While this is the case, diploma certificate holders cannot enrol in such universities for a master’s program

6. In most instances, degree holders are paid higher than diploma holders. However, this is highly debatable as some companies do not agree to this.

7. The types of degrees are the bachelor, master, associate, and doctorate. The type of diplomas is graduate or post graduate.

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