Diploma vs Degree: What’s the Difference?

Posted January 4, 2021 by in Career

Some 3.3 million students graduate from American high schools each year, according to the Department of Education. Many walk to “Pomp and Circumstance” with a diploma in their hand. 

A diploma is not a guarantee of future success, so maybe the aspiring student will look ahead for a degree or even a specialized skill certificate. But what if you don’t know which one to pursue, or even what the difference is? 

A diploma vs degree could make a big difference in your career opportunities. 

In the following article, we’ll examine the difference between the two and when a certificate is a right option. 

What Is a Diploma? 

Basically, a diploma is awarded to students who have completed high-school, or sometimes post-graduate work from a college or university. Students often consider the physical plaque or paper they receive when graduating from college as their diploma.

A good rule of thumb is that a diploma is for high school graduates and technical courses. They are more involved than a certificate but less intensive than degrees. 

What Is a Degree?

Degrees are awarded to students that complete coursework to gain specialized knowledge. Usually, these college degrees are to prepare you for individual working situations.  

Degrees types include Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorates.

Associate degrees usually are 2-year programs at a technical, community college, or a university. Bachelor’s degrees are 4-year degrees, often a more evolved form of an Associate’s degree, and offered from a university or college. A Master’s typically takes 2 years and requires research or a significant project, or hands-on experience. A doctorate takes another four years and is the highest form of academic honor.  

Diploma vs Degree

One of the biggest reasons for pursuing a degree includes getting the job you want. And this comes earning more money and independence. Other reasons for achieving a diploma includes understanding the world and becoming an expert in your chosen field.

Diplomas aren’t just awarded to high school students, and they are often earned by people who complete technical programs. You can get a diploma to learn how to manufacture specific materials and learn how to operate heavy or industrial machinery. 

You can take a peek at examples of diplomas on a number of websites. 

Diploma vs Certificate

You should also know what a certificate is as compared to a diploma or degree. A certificate can help your work as a plumber, HVAC specialist, or electrician. Generally, certificates are awarded to people who complete some sort of hands-on training. 

You may get a certificate for completing mastery of a computer program also. 

Employment opportunities

When you weigh a diploma vs degree program, you need to consider your current resources to your expected future earnings. Attending college to earn a degree when your interests don’t align with your chosen studies could be an unfortunate mistake.

Also, degrees are much more expensive than technical diplomas. You may want to pursue a certificate to earn enough to pursue a degree before plunging straight into a university or college.

Did you find this article helpful? Search this website for more on technical careers and higher education.