What Is the Difference Between a Certificate, Diploma and Degree?

What Is the Difference Between a Certificate, Diploma and Degree?

Interested in furthering your studies, but not quite sure what type of course to study? Here we take a closer look at certificate, diploma and degree courses, and how they differ from one another. This should give you a better idea of what type of course you should look at to reach your goals.

We will look at the following qualifications:

  • Certificates
  • Advanced Certificates
  • National Higher Certificates
  • Diplomas
  • National Professional Diplomas
  • Bachelor’s Degrees

What is a Certificate?

A Certificate usually implies that you have gained a basic level of higher education knowledge and skills. After successful completion of a Certificate course, you will be able to apply your skills in the workplace and improve your overall productivity.   

Certificate courses can also be studied for self-enrichment or hobbyist purposes. For example, if you love taking photos in your personal time, you can study a photography course and improve your knowledge and skills.

Duration of study: 6 months to 1 year

What is a Higher Certificate?

Higher Certificate study programmes are predominantly vocational. This means that the course material is industry-oriented. The practical skills you will learn will help you improve your performance in the workplace.

A Higher Certificate will also enable you to build on your education. It will allow you to enrol for an even higher qualification, such as an advanced certificate or diploma course, in the same or related field of study.    

Duration of study: Full-time 2 years / Part-time 3 years

What is an Advanced Certificate?

An Advanced Certificate course will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of the field you are studying. This level of certification is more specialised and can improve your job opportunities. Advanced Certificate programmes are career-focused, and will prepare you for a specific job role.

Duration of study: Full-time 1 year / Part-time 2 years

What is a Diploma?

A Diploma course provides career-oriented training, with the purpose to prepare you to work efficiently in a particular field. A comprehensive understanding, together with specialised skills, will enable you to apply for various jobs in the area you have studied.

Duration of study: Full-time 1 year / Part-time 2 years.  

What is a National Professional Diploma?

A National Professional Diploma allows under-qualified individuals to upgrade their level of education and get a ‘qualified’ status. For example, if you have studied to become a teacher, but do not have the necessary qualification to teach, you can study a National Professional Diploma in Education to get your full teacher status. 

Duration of study: Part-time 2-3 years

What is a National Diploma?

A National Diploma will equip you with focused knowledge and skills in a particular field. Students who successfully complete a National Diploma course, can enrol for a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in the same field of study.

Duration of study:

  • Full-time 3 years / Part-time 4 years
  • Full-time 1 year / Part-time 2 years (if succeeding a National Higher Certificate)

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

Bachelor’s Degrees are long-term learning programmes that can take three to four years to complete. This qualification enables graduates to illustrate knowledge and competencies required for access into the job market, further education and training, postgraduate studies, or expert practice in a wide range of career fields.

Duration of study: Full-time 3 years / part-time 4-5 years 

 

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