Diploma vs Certificate:
What is the Difference? 

When it comes to higher education there are so many different courses to choose from, and even if you know the subject you would like to study, deciding what type of qualification is right for you can feel like an overwhelming decision. Higher education in the modern day can lead to far more than your traditional degree, alternative qualifications include a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), Higher National Certificate/Diploma (HNC/HND) and Certificate/Diploma of Higher Education (CertHE/DipHE) which are all popular choices and can often result in similar career prospects to a degree level award. Whilst an NVQ is a distinct qualification, deciphering the difference between a diploma vs certificate can be trickier.

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Key Differences

There are many similarities between a certificate and diploma, and you will normally find that a subject will have a respective course for each, with significant overlap. This is because a diploma is essentially an extended certificate. So, how do you decide which is right for you? Here are the key differences between certificate and diploma qualifications:

  • Training Hours – A certificate is a shorter course than a diploma. HNC and CertHE courses are one year full-time or two years part-time. HND and DipHE courses are two years full-time or four years part time. However, if you have already completed a certificate, you can enter straight onto the second half of the respective diploma, reducing the total course length.
  • Credits – HNC and CertHE are Level 4 qualifications and are worth 120 UCAS points, which is equivalent to year one of a bachelor’s degree. HND and DipHE are Level 5 qualifications and are worth 240 UCAS points, equivalent to years one and two of a bachelor’s degree, which are 360 credits for three years and Level 6 qualifications.
  • Learning Outcomes – A diploma, such as a HND in Business Management will provide you with a more in depth and subject specific set of skills and knowledge than a certificate, and so may be more desirable to a potential employer. However, if you are not ready for the increased financial or time commitment of a diploma, a certificate may be sufficient for your needs.

Benefits Of Online Study for Your Diploma or Certificate

Once you have made the choice between diploma vs certificate, the next step is to choose where to study. Online institutions such as the College of Contract Management are a modern alternative to traditional in-person college or university and are increasing in popularity due to their numerous benefits.

  • Entry Requirements – If you do not meet the entry criteria for a bachelor’s degree a diploma or certificate at an online institution is a perfect alternative as the requirements tend to be more lenient and so they are accessible to a wider variety of prospective students.
  • Affordability – Online courses are a fraction of the cost of their in person counterparts and degree equivalents as your entire fee goes towards your teaching rather than paying for other physical costs such as infrastructure and library services.
  • Flexibility – An online course can be completed alongside a full-time job and other commitments such as childcare as they are often part-time, with lectures in the evening or weekend, and if you are unable to attend live, you will be able to catch up on the content later in time at your convenience.
  • Convenience – Avoid time, stress and money involved with travelling to and from a physical college or university. Sit back with a cup of tea in the comfort of your own home, or wherever you choose, and create your own ideal learning environment.
  • Covid-19 Safe – Study with peace of mind that neither your health nor studies will be impacted negatively by the possible repercussions of sitting in a stuffy lecture theatre with a group of other students. The pandemic has caused enough worry already, don’t let it impact your education too.
  • Resources – Access some of the best teachers from around the world, and also meet people you would never otherwise encounter. With online study you are not limited to the college of universities close to you, and can learn from anyone in the world, from wherever you like.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully the difference between certificate and diploma qualifications is now clearer and you are better informed to make your decision. Whichever route you choose to further your education, and for whatever reason, whether career or curiosity, opting for an online course is becoming the new norm and most popular choice for students in the modern day. The first step on your learning journey is just the click of a mouse away!