What is a Diploma Degree?
A diploma degree is a qualification in which a certificate is issued by the educational institution that is offering the course. A diploma is an academic award of completion of a particular academic or professional course. The educational institutions, such as universities or colleges, can offer a diploma on a graduation or post-graduation level, or higher education.
A diploma is basically a documentation certifying one’s completion of a particular qualification, and in the United Kingdom it may refer to a vast range of qualifications. It can be worth 37 credits or more as per the Regulated Qualifications Framework. There may be several levels of a diploma degree, starting from the entry level to a Level 3 qualification.
Types of Diploma Degree in the UK
There are 4 major types of diploma degree:
- Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE): It is a higher education award given in the UK, after completing a two-year course of full-time study at a higher education institution or a university. The DipHE is rated as a Level 5 qualification on both the qualification frameworks, namely the RQF or Regulated Qualifications Framework as well as the EQF or European Qualifications Framework. This is a higher education that is below a Bachelor’s Degree and is equivalent to a Foundation Degree.
- Higher National Diploma (HND): This is a vocational qualification which is at the same level as that of a DipHE. It is a higher education qualification which enables a candidate to gain entry into the universities for further study at a more advanced level. This course is considered similar to the first two years of a Bachelor’s degree programme or as an equivalent to a Foundation Degree.
- Graduate Diploma (GDip or GradDip): It is a qualification at the level of a Bachelor’s degree and is generally taken by people who have already earned a lower level qualifications. The programme is designed to enable the candidates to acquire specific vocational skills. A student can also choose to pursue a graduate diploma to gain access to a postgraduate study, in case his/her first degree was obtained in an unrelated field of study.
- Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip): This is a qualification awarded at the Master’s degree level. One can find a vast range of Postgraduate Diplomas across England and Wales. It might be a vocational course that one may study after taking an academic degree, such as the Bar Vocational Course, or the Legal Practice Course. After completing such a course, the students would gain entry into a legal training programme, which are related to professions, a barrister or a solicitor. In short, a PGDip allows a candidate to go for studying a more advanced and in-depth programme as he/she did at the bachelor’s level.
Advantages of Studying a Diploma Degree?
Studying for a diploma can benefit you in many ways. Let’s see how –
- It is shorter than a degree course and lasts for about 1-2 years. You don’t have to spend years doing a degree course. A full-time study of a degree course takes a minimum of three years to complete.
- It is much cheaper than a degree course
- A diploma degree focuses mainly on training the candidate in a particular professional field.
- The admission process is simple and you are not required to have a high academic qualification to apply for a diploma course.
- Flexible class schedules.
- You can do it alongside a busy work or home schedule.
- You don’t always have to be present in a classroom environment. There are even facilities for distance learning or online learning.
- You can study a diploma programme either as a full-time or a part-time course.
- If you want to increase your skills and knowledge in some particular area of interest, a diploma course would be the right choice.
- Most of the universities and employers today recognise a diploma course.
- While doing a diploma course, you can have time to explore various other careers.
- A diploma course will make you job-ready in a short time.
- It focuses on the practical rather than the theoretical aspect, hence preparing you for work experience.
Career Opportunities after Completing a Diploma Degree course
The career opportunities for a diploma course depend upon the type of diploma degree you are opting for. Here is a brief guide to the career options after completing one of the diploma courses –
- Diploma of Higher Education – It is a full-time two-year course and is generally considered similar to the first two years of a recognised undergraduate degree. It is often used as an entry criterion to the third year degree course to gain more knowledge and skills, and of course, a whole degree. The DipHE is also considered at the same level as an HND (Higher National Diploma). After completing a DipHE, a candidate can pursue a vocational training course. The student can get even entry to work as it prepares the students in a particular sector. Alternatively, you can gain admission to a Bachelor’s degree in further education.
- Higher National Diploma – It is similar to the first two years of university, which makes it a more advanced and valuable qualification. The candidates get prepared in a particular field, which helps them to opt for a relevant degree course.
- Graduate Diploma – You can either start your career in a relevant professional field or go for higher studies. It improves your skills and practical knowledge in a specific subject. It has the same recognition as that of a Master’s degree. At the end of the course, if you complete a dissertation, you can reach 180 credits, which converts your diploma into a Master’s degree.
- Postgraduate Diploma – It offers a practical approach and equips the candidate with essential professional skills. It focuses more on the technical aspects rather than academic. This diploma degree makes you fully prepared for a job.
Entry Requirements for Applying to a Diploma Degree
The entry requirements for a diploma course depend upon the particular educational institution (college or university). The candidate would generally be required to have completed high school level.