Diploma vs. Degree: What’s the difference?

Both a diploma and a degree are things that a person gets when they finish their education. You can’t switch between these two words.

A degree or diploma can lay the educational groundwork for a career that lasts a lifetime. Degrees and diplomas can both be earned through higher education, but they are different in many ways. Knowing the differences between a degree and a diploma can help you choose the program that will best help you achieve your career goals. In this article, we look at what a diploma and a degree mean, how they are different, what you should think about when choosing between the two, and what the benefits are of getting either one.

a Diploma over a Degree

What is a degree?

A degree is a certificate that a recognized college or university gives to someone who has finished their education at a certain level.

After finishing high school, students go on to get this degree. There are four main types of degrees, such as an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate.

Most degree programs take between 3 and 4 years to finish, giving students enough time to learn a lot about their chosen field. Here are some of the various types of degrees you can get:

  • Bachelor’s degree: Getting a bachelor’s degree can take anywhere from three to six years, depending on what you study and where you go to school.
  • Master’s degree: Most master’s degrees take between one and three years to finish. The main parts of the program are doing research and writing a thesis.
  • Doctorate: A doctorate is the highest level of education, and it can take between four and seven years to finish. In a doctorate program, students may study for several years and usually have to finish a large research project, academic thesis, or dissertation to get their degree.
  • Associate’s degree: Getting one of these degrees is often the first step toward getting a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the course you take and the school you go to, it could take you anywhere from two to three years to finish an associate’s degree.

What Is a Diploma?

The diploma is a legal document that a recognized university or school gives to a student when they finish a course of study successfully.

After finishing high school, students can go to a diploma college. The graduate diploma and the post-graduate diploma are the two most common types of diploma certificates.

The program usually takes between one and two years, and the student learns a lot about a certain field of study. Here are some of the most common types of diplomas you might want to get:

  • A Graduate Diploma: At the undergraduate level, this is a certified qualification. Most people finish the program in one to two years.
  • Postgraduate Diploma: After getting a bachelor’s degree, students can go on to get a postgraduate diploma. It is usually given to students who have finished their master’s degree and are taking an advanced course for one year that is similar to the first year of a Ph.D. program.
  • Technical diploma: This type of diploma might focus on skills that employers need or want in a certain field. Diplomas in hairstyling, engineering, and carpentry are all examples of technical diplomas.

Comparison Chart (Degree Vs Diploma)

DefinitionA degree is a certificate given by a college or university to a student who has finished a certain level of study in the field they chose.A diploma is a certificate given to a student by an educational institution for taking a certain course and passing the exam at the end of the course.
Time Horizon3-4 years1-2 years
Minimum qualificationHigher secondaryHigh school
Depth of KnowledgeComparatively moreComparatively less
Conducted byUniversitiesBoth Universities and educational institutions
FeesExpensiveNot expensive

Key Differences Between Degree and Diploma

Here are some of the most important differences between a degree and a diploma:

  • A degree is a certificate that the university gives to a student who has done well in his studies up to a certain point in the field he chose. A diploma is a certificate that the school gives to a student who finishes a course successfully.
  • Every year, people get into degree programs. On the other hand, admission to a diploma course is done either once a year or twice a year, depending on how the university or institution does things.
  • Most of the time, degree courses are more expensive than diploma courses.
  • Degree courses consume more time than diploma courses.
  • Some degree programs are flexible, which means that a student can switch majors within a few months of starting. On the other hand, there is no such choice in a diploma.
  • For a degree program, the minimum requirement is 10+2, but for a diploma, it is only the 10th.
  • Degree holders usually get paid more than diploma holders.
  • There are bachelor’s, master’s, associate, and doctoral degrees. Diplomas are either graduate or postgraduate.


A higher salary is one reason why a lot of people are thinking about going to college. It’s why people with diplomas usually keep going to the next level to reach the highest level.

The main differences between a degree and a diploma are how many years it takes and how much you get paid for it.