Pursuing higher education once you’re done with high school is an admirable decision. There are different ways to achieve this, depending on the type of reward you want to receive on your graduation. 

For instance, you can choose between a degree or a diploma. Knowing the differences between the two is the first step to deciding which path is right for you

Overview: Degree vs. Diploma

To make things simpler, let’s begin by defining what a degree and a diploma are. 

What’s a Degree?

A degree is offered by autonomous institutions, a university, or a college and is generally completed within four years. 

There are four major types of degrees: 

  • Bachelor’s Degree: It’s a full-time undergraduate course that takes three to four years to complete.
  • Associate Degree: This degree program is typically available as a vocational degree and spans over two years. 
  • Master’s Degree: This is usually pursued after a bachelor’s degree and involves concentrated and specialised studies. This degree spans over two years. 
  • Doctorate Degree: This is the highest level of academic degree and can be achieved  after completing a master’s degree. 

The main advantage of pursuing a degree course is that the modules focus on the specialisation based on a student’s strengths. Examples of degree programs include Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, and Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. 


  • Better chances of earning a good salary
  • More marketable
  • Students learn additional skills such as analysis and critical thinking
  • Provides opportunities for networking  


  • It’s expensive
  • It takes a long time to complete

What’s a Diploma?

Colleges usually provide diploma programs, and it takes two years or less to complete them. 

Diplomas are more technical. The modules learnt in diploma programs allow students to understand their field thoroughly. The main types of diplomas are: 

  • Graduate Diploma: This is a certified qualification that students undertake at the undergraduate level. 
  • Post-graduate Diploma: This type of diploma is usually undertaken after completing a bachelor’s degree course. 

Diploma courses can include a Diploma of Youth Work, a Diploma in Business Administration, a Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science, etc. 


  • Ideal for those looking for a change in their career within a short amount of time
  • They’re cost-efficient
  • There are no prerequisites
  • Don’t have complex enrollment procedures
  • Flexible class schedules
  • The curriculum is focused on the exact skills students need


  • Students don’t learn general education courses
  • Lower chances of earning a good salary
  • Less marketable compared to degrees

Key Differences Between Degrees and Diplomas

1. Difficulty Level

Understanding the difficulty levels of both programs is essential before settling on one. Diplomas are easier for students compared to degrees since their syllabus is limited. 

For diploma exams, there are higher chances of examination questions being repeated since the curriculum has a specific focus. Degrees are more challenging since they cover a broader curriculum. Degrees usually train students for various job roles. 

2. Curriculum

Diploma courses usually focus on specific concepts, while degrees focus on multiple concepts. Diploma courses ensure that students acquire skills in one particular concept. On the other hand, degrees ensure that students gain expertise in different concepts, which can be helpful in their careers. 

3. Duration

The length of both diploma and degree courses can differ. Diploma courses can take anywhere from two months to two years, while degrees take three to four years. The length of the course varies depending on the level of study. 

4. Subject Variety

Diplomas have a limited curriculum. Therefore there are no general subjects covered. Since degrees have a broader curriculum, students get to study various modules. 

5. Cost

Degrees are more costly than diplomas. On average, pursuing a degree can cost between $20,000 and $50,000. On the other hand, diplomas can cost between $1,300 and $1,500 every three months for two years. 

6. Career Development

Studying for a degree gives you more career growth options than a diploma. With a degree, you can pursue an academic career or continue to expand your horizons. The higher your degree, the more job options you’ll have. Diplomas only limit you to employment.

7. Employability

The expertise you gain from either a diploma or a degree determines your employability. The curriculum and target of each program differ. While diplomas are cost and time effective, they have fewer modules that help you gain base knowledge. 

Degrees focus on the educational and academic side. Additionally, most employers prefer degrees to diplomas. 

Final Verdict

Whether to pursue a diploma or a degree is based on personal preference. The main advantage of diploma courses lies in their affordability and duration. 

Nevertheless, there’s a wider gap between diplomas and degrees. Therefore, it’s advisable to carefully consider what each program offers and understand their differences before making your final decision.

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