Diploma Programs

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Diploma and certificate programs are shorter programs of higher education offered at universities and other institutions of higher education around the world. Diploma programs often last one to two years.
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Diploma and certificate qualifications are awarded in most disciplines. They are more common in some countries than in others, and may also have different names, such as Diploma of Higher Education, HND or HNC in the UK and Association Degree in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Diplomas are great choices for students who are unsure what they want to study at the bacehlor's level, want to quickly join the work force by learning a skill or trade, or are seeking professional development opportunities. Oftentimes, diplomas also offer an affordable way to begin earning a degree while also providing the necessary knowledge to start a career.

Postgraduate Diplomas

Although most diploma programs and courses are offered at undergraduate level, some are offered as a postgraduate complement to a previous bachelor degree. Such examples exist especially within education, where it is common to take a year of study to convert your bachelor degree into a teaching qualification for primary or secondary school. These are available in the UK and most of the commonwealth countries.

Undergraduate Diplomas

There are two main types of diplomas offered at undergraduate level. They have different names depending on where you study, but the basics are the same.

Vocational Diplomas

Vocational degrees are often offered at non-university institutions such as colleges or private higher education institutions. These courses have a very practical focus and aim to prepare students for direct entry into a future career. Such courses can be found within any field from IT to health and social care, performing arts or business and hospitality management.

Examples of vocational diplomas are: the HND (Higher National Diploma) and HNC (Higher National Certificate) in the UK and the VET in Australia.

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Diploma of Higher Education / Associate Degree

The Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in the UK is roughly equivalent to the associate degree awarded in the US system. These consist of two years of full time study at university or another equivalent institution of higher education. Often such a diploma can be completed with a further year of study to obtain a bachelor degree.


Certificate study is offered at both university and non-university institutions of higher education. These last for only one year and are offered in a wide variety of fields and at both university and non-university institutions. A certificate can often be completed with a further year of study to award a diploma within the same field.


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