The Encyclopedia
of Differences

Difference Between a Degree and a Diploma

Table of Contents

The main difference between a degree and a diploma is the number of credits earned and the length of time spent doing so. You must complete more general education courses than a diploma to graduate with a degree. A diploma requires between forty and sixty credits to be completed over the course of about two years. A degree requires a minimum of 120 credits to complete and typically takes roughly four years to complete.

What is a Degree?

science degree
A Degree diploma from the Antioch University Seattle

A degree is a certificate honored by a college or university to a student who has completed the requirements of an educational program at the institution's highest level of study. After finishing secondary school, students can continue their studies and work toward earning a degree.

Completing a degree program often takes between three and four years; throughout that time, the student can acquire in-depth information about the subject matter of their study.  After completing the higher secondary exams, students are eligible to enroll in degree programs. In general, there are four different kinds of degrees:

  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Master's Degree
  • Doctorate Degree

The student will get a complete understanding of the student's chosen subject area while they are enrolled in the degree program. The student is required to participate in an internship in addition to gaining both practical and theoretical knowledge. The program of study for the degree will concentrate almost entirely on the field of study and area of concentration chosen by the student.

What is a Diploma?

A Diploma from the University of Delaware for a degree in arts

A diploma is a certificate by a recognized university or educational institution to a student who has completed all of the requirements for that institution's course of study. After completing secondary school, students are eligible for admission to a diploma college.

Students often spend between one and two years completing the program, during which they get an in-depth understanding of a certain field of study. Diploma programs provide industry-specific instruction and are specifically intended to provide students with the fundamental skills and information they need to compete successfully in today's employment market.

In addition, you will get practical experience, allowing you to learn and perfect the skills you will use regularly. The two most common types of diploma are as follows:

  • Graduate Diploma
  • Post-graduate Diploma

In addition, the curriculum of a diploma program is designed to help students improve both their theoretical understanding and their hands-on expertise in the subject matter of a specific course. If you are interested in switching careers in a relatively short time, obtaining a diploma could benefit you; however, one condition must be met first: the industry you want to transition into does not need a degree.

Differences between a Degree and a Diploma


The time it takes to finish a diploma program is often far less than that of a degree program. You could earn a diploma in as little as one to two years, depending on the institution you attend and the program you choose. Depending on the educational establishment and the program, degree and diploma courses attended at universities or colleges may be completed part-time if the appropriate program is selected.

The completion of the majority of degrees might take anywhere from one to five years. For instance, the typical amount of time necessary to finish a bachelor's degree program is four years, but most medical degree programs need anywhere from five to six years of study to graduate.


There is a possibility that the tuition prices at prestigious private colleges will be rather costly. When choosing where to go to university, you should think about the cost of tuition in addition to the cost of living expenses. As a result of the generally shorter period required to finish them, diploma programs may often be completed at a lower cost than degree programs.


The university will award the student with a degree if they have completed all of the requirements necessary for that particular level of study in the academic track they have selected for themselves. The educational institution presents the student with a diploma in the form of a certificate upon the student's complete completion of the required coursework for a specific program.

Job Opportunities

If you have a degree, you may have access to many more professional prospects than if you have a diploma. Regardless of the profession, certain companies prefer individuals who have received a higher degree over those who have acquired a diploma.

Earning a degree could be a prerequisite for enrolling in some professional programs, such as those in the fields of medical, engineering, and law. On the other hand, if you want to work in a field that requires technical expertise, like carpentry or electrical work, you may need a diploma or a certificate.


In most cases, prospective students must fulfill several prerequisites before being accepted into a diploma or degree program. A high school education is required to enroll in a university or college. Some universities may require candidates to either participate in an interview or present letters of recommendation written by academic references.

Comparison Chart: Degree Vs Diploma

Time Horizon3-4 years1-2 years
Minimum QualificationHigher SecondaryHigh School
Conducted ByUniversitiesUniversities/Educational Institutes


What Are Jobs Open To You With A Degree Under Your Belt?

You will continue to broaden your perspectives if you pursue further education and ultimately get a degree from an accredited institution. If you get a higher degree, you will access a wider variety of better-paying career opportunities. The only thing that should matter to you is what kind of degree is required for your desired job.

What Is A Certificate Program?

A certificate program enables students to concentrate their studies on a certain area or occupational skill, paying close attention to specific abilities and methods that may be put into practice. These kinds of programs are accessible to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

What Do You Learn In Diploma Programs?

Diplomas involve practical experience and coursework specifically designed for the kind of diploma being earned. They are useful in many ways.


These days, individuals are much more worried about their level of education after high school. The decision between a degree and a diploma is very difficult since both options offer advantages and disadvantages.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
Share our Article on:

Table of Contents

About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
All Posts Written By Nicolas Seignette

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

magnifiercrosschevron-downarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram