Just finished your Bachelor’s degree and want to attain specialist knowledge and skills that can quickly launch you into a successful career? Or maybe you need certified credentials in order to practice professions like teaching, designing, or paralegal activities? Then you might be able to achieve your goals with either a graduate diploma or a postgraduate certificate.
But what is the difference between a graduate diploma and a postgraduate certificate? And what are they, taken separately? Before answering these questions, here are a few universities we recommend for postgraduate diplomas and certificates:
- University of Zurich, Switzerland
- University of Technology Sydney, Australia
- University of Birmingham, the UK
- Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Belgium
- Portland State University, the US
The difference between a postgraduate diploma/certificate and a degree
- Postgraduate diplomas and certificates are usually less expensive when compared to a regular Master's degree.
- Master's programmes normally take 2 years (or more) to complete, which is longer when compared to graduate diplomas/certificates, which take less than 1 year.
- While Bachelor's or Master's degrees are usually focused on academic knowledge, graduate diplomas and certificates aim to quickly develop the practical skills of students.
- The number of courses, credits, and student workload is lower for postgraduate certificates and diplomas.
- Enrolling in a graduate diploma/certificate allows you to maintain a flexible schedule and take on other commitments, like a part or full-time job.
What is a graduate diploma?
A graduate (or postgraduate) diploma is a qualification, usually vocational, that focuses on acquiring a specific skillset and practical knowledge in a chosen field. Or so says Google. In simpler terms, students who opt for a graduate diploma are interested in quickly gaining more practical skills for potential employers.
You can apply for a graduate diploma programme in many universities worldwide, if you have completed a Bachelor’s degree, usually in the same field or one that is closely related.
However, there are exceptions to this rule and some institutions will accept a Bachelor’s degree in any field. Based our data, some of the most popular graduate diplomas are found in:
- Graduate Diplomas in Australia
- Graduate Diplomas in New Zealand
- Graduate Diplomas in the U.K.
- Graduate Diplomas in Ireland
A graduate diploma usually takes one year to complete (or two years if you choose to study part-time) and many programmes offer direct entry to a Master’s degree course at the same university or partner universities.
In the UK, for instance, a graduate diploma has the same recognition and qualification as a Master’s degree; if you complete a dissertation at the end of the programme, you can reach 180 study credits and turn your diploma into a Master’s.
Benefits of a graduate diploma
The main benefits of a graduate diploma are:
- It takes less time to complete (one year) and is less expensive compared to a Master’s degree
- You can change your career (or start your career) as a professional in a certain field
- You can increase your practical knowledge in a field you are interested in
- You can improve your career prospects and potential income
What is a postgraduate certificate?
A postgraduate certificate (also called a professional certificate) is an educational credential that provides students advanced skills in a specific area of specialisation. Basically, a postgraduate certificate gives you the eligibility to practise a profession.
For instance, paralegals are required to earn a postgraduate certificate and English teachers that want to start training students whose native language is not English, will need an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) postgraduate certificate.
Other students who apply for a postgraduate certificate are simply interested in exploring a new field, without having to commit to a Master’s programme.
Some of the most popular countries for postgraduate certificates are:
- Postgraduate Certificate in the U.K.
- Postgraduate Certificate in Canada
- Postgraduate Certificate in Australia
- Postgraduate Certificate in the U.S.
Unlike a Master’s degree that provides a broader view of a subject area and more career options, a postgraduate certificate focuses on a few areas of a subject.
Also, a postgraduate certificate can take from a few weeks to one or two years to complete. Just like graduate diplomas, students who enrol in a postgraduate certificate will need to hold a Bachelor’s degree. Some schools allow students to be enrolled in a postgraduate certificate programme and a Master's or doctoral degree course simultaneously.
Postgraduate certificates should not necessarily follow the same path as your previous Bachelor’s degree. They can be related to any field you choose. In most universities, to pursue a postgraduate certificate programme, you will have to be admitted as a graduate level student.
Benefits of a postgraduate certificate
Financially, a postgraduate certificate is more affordable compared to a Master’s degree. You will only have to attend between three and seven courses, that only target topics in a particular area of the field, and so, you will acquire skills that can help you land a new career.
Universities offering online postgraduate certificates and diplomas
There are so many options for postgraduate certificates and diplomas and you don't have to go to a different country to study one. You can do it from the comfort of your home. Here are a few universities we recommend:
Universities offering online postgraduate diplomas
- Barcelona Executive Business School (BEBS)
- Swinburne Online
- London School of Business and Finance
- Centennial College
- Torrens University Australia
Find more online postgraduate diplomas.
Universities offering online postgraduate certificates
- University of Cumbria
- University of Leeds Online
- Charles Sturt Online
- University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business
- The University of Arizona
Find more online postgraduate certificates.
Postgraduate certificate vs graduate diploma - What's the difference?
The most notable similarities between a postgraduate certificate and graduate diploma are:
- They are both focused on helping students develop practical skills in a certain field.
- They are an option for students who consider a change in their career path.
- They are both less expensive and require less time to complete, compared to a Master’s programme.
Still, some of the differences are:
- Unlike postgraduate certificates, for some professions, a graduate diploma is a mandatory credential, a license that gives professionals more credibility.
- Graduate diplomas can be equivalent to a Master’s qualification, unlike postgraduate certificates.
In conclusion, both graduate diplomas and postgraduate certificates are considerable options if you are interested in landing a job quicker. You will just have to realise which of the two types of programmes is better for your education and career plans.