Diploma vs Degree
The Diploma and degree are two words that have different meanings in different countries; especially U.S. has a different interpretation for diploma than most of the other countries. As such it is natural for people to get confused with these two words. Anyhow in academic terms both diploma and degree are awards offered to a person on the successful completion of an educational course, thus, both give the surety of an academic qualification of that person.
An academic degree is an award offered by a university or college; it tells that the holder of the award has satisfactorily completed a course of education at certain level such as Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate. Bachelor’s degree is the basic academic degree conferred on a person who has completed an undergraduate course, which is generally 3 to 4 years. The Doctor’s degree, also known as PhD is the highest academic award conferred on a person by a university. Master’s degree is in between both.
In some countries only universities can award degree certificates. Some others have authorized university colleges that can award degrees. But in U.S. both universities and colleges can award degree certificates. (Read more about difference between university and college).
Diploma is defined in American Heritage Dictionary as “a document issued by an educational institution, such as a university, testifying that the recipient has earned a degree or has successfully completed a particular course of study.”
The Oxford Dictionaries define it as “a certificate awarded by an educational establishment to show that someone has successfully completed a course of study.”
Diploma in fact is a Greek word, and it translates as a folded paper. This term is usually applied to a certificate, which people receive when they have completed their studies in college, trade, high school, professional schools or universities.
Anyhow, this term is not used by all the countries, or some countries use this term in more limited fashion than the U.S. The United States tend to use this word to indicate successful completion of study and this term refer to the document received at formal ceremony or after formal ceremony.
In countries like U.K., Canada and Australia a diploma is a qualification received upon the successful completion of a course of study at a college, high school, or a vocational institution, the duration of which is generally two years or less. And the level of study is considered to be below the degree level courses. Many of the Asian countries also follow the same system.
Contrary to this, in U.S. a college diploma means a Bachelors Degree from a college or university. Though in technical terms (according to American Heritage Dictionary), a college diploma could be any degree, it is not generally used with Master’s and Doctor’s degree. A similar system is used in German Education System.
Difference between Diploma and Degree:
The term diploma is interpreted differently in different countries.
In technical terms diploma is a certificate awarded after successful completion of a course of study. However this term is not used by all the countries, to its full meaning.
In U.S. a College Diploma means a Bachelors Degree from a college or university.
In UK, Canada, Australia, and in many other countries including most of the Asian countries Bachelor degrees are awarded for undergraduate courses conducted by universities and Diplomas are awarded for college level, trade or high school courses, which are below the level of degree programs.
In some countries only universities can award degree certificates.
In U.S. both universities and colleges can award degree certificates. (Read more about difference between university and college).
Diplomas are often given out for specific courses of study. Sometimes diploma program can easily be a subset of degree program.
Some specific Diploma programs such as nursing can take up to 2 to 3 years to complete.
Diploma programs are more job oriented, as such it can also get you in the work for very soon.
If you look towards the focus and aims of both degree program and diploma program, you will find much difference. The degree gives more significance on academics. With degree program, you can get more in-depth knowledge and it is a foundation for higher level of education.
On the other hand, diploma focuses on getting a person qualified and trained in a particular trade or business. Diploma teaches the minimum required theoretical and academic knowledge, it emphasize more on how you can handle the job situation.
There is a need of planning before you decide on a program. Read all of the information very carefully, you may find the different definitions of both terms in different high schools and colleges. Be aware that what you actually require in the way of education.