Degree vs Diploma. A Comparative Look

Global Ed

A few years ago, a degree was non-negotiable. You needed one to kickstart your career. In today’s world, any form of education is going to open doors for you. It is almost impossible to pinpoint and categorically say one is better than the other. But if you find yourself at the crossroads of choosing between a degree or a diploma, then this article is for you.

Here’s what we’ll look at today:

Degree vs Diploma - a comparison table

Diploma Degree
Meaning A document is given by a school/college/educational institution/university to show that you have passed a particular exam or finished a particular course. A certificate awarded at the university level after completion of rigorous courses in and around a particular stream.
Duration 1-2 years 3-4 years
Who Offers Any educational institution (state or private), colleges and universities Only recognised colleges and universities
Cost Lower Higher
Types A diploma is offered at different levels.

  • After 10th
  • After School
  • Undergrad Diploma
  • Postgrad Diploma
  • Technical Diploma(vocational equivalents of the A-level)
  • Associate Degrees
  • Bachelors
  • Masters
  • Doctorate
Admission Depending on the institution, it can begin at any point of an academic year Annual or semi-annual
Minimum Requirement 10th 10+2
Flexibility Structured program, you will have to complete all the modules within the course.
Not much scope for flexibility.
Extremely flexible.
You can choose the courses of your liking and even graduate with an interdisciplinary degree.
  • Narrower and more focussed
  • More job-oriented, but limited in scope
  • Can be vocational.
  • Extremely broad
  • More theoretical than practical
  • Allows to learn all kinds of disciplines and the interactions among them
  • Conventionallypreferred over any other certification.
Learning Outcomes Diplomas are very job-specific. It is holistic learning of a particular field so you can find employment within that scope. A PG diploma can also work as a powerful booster to an existing degree. Degrees offer intense and in-depth learning in a discipline, along with its history and development. The flexibility of a degree means that it opens up a multitude of doors for you.
  • Make you job-ready
  • Focus on essential skills
  • You will be hired quickly in niche areas
  • You will complete it in less time
  • Not as expensive
  • Easier admissions compared to degrees
  • Better potential for higher salaries.
  • Can be hired at beyond entry levels
  • Conventionally more accepted, worldwide
  • Will include additional skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving because of the course duration
  • Extremely flexible
  • Limits your scope
  • In academic convention, it is considered a step lower than a degree. So, you might not get the same amount of opportunities as a person with a degree.
  • Will be hired at the entry-level
  • Time-consuming
  • Highly expensive without support/ scholarships
  • Do not narrow your scope, making the choice of career paths more complex.

The summary

The bottom line is your goal and your comfort level. It is not possible to choose between the two until you have set your goals for the future. If you are exceedingly clear about your career path, or the kind of employment you see yourself in, a diploma will give more focussed knowledge on the things you need. That way, you can even look for potential employers, search for the diplomas they accept, and prepare yourself so that you are immediately accepted. A degree on the other hand gives you more exploratory options. But, as we said earlier, the global academic and employment scene is opening up to accept all kinds of certifications, as long as your job skills make you stand out.

Read more also about the toughest exams in the world.

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Global Ed


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