Pursuing a higher education is a noble and rewarding effort. Getting a degree of any sort is a worthy endeavor. Students who have reached the end of their schooling and are looking for the next step may be wondering what the difference is between undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas. Both are accomplishments, but one can be achieved alone, while the other requires a previous diploma.
What an Undergraduate Degree Can Accomplish
An undergraduate degree typically has a broad major, such as communications or journalism, social sciences or political science. While it gives students a specialization and allows them to enter the workforce as a professional, it can be limiting for certain subjects.
Difference Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate
Whether a diploma is undergraduate or postgraduate depends on the level of education, number of years to complete and area of study. Basically, an undergraduate degree is an associate or bachelor’s degree. An associate degree takes two years on average to complete, while a bachelor’s degree takes up to four years or more to complete.
A bachelor’s undergraduate degree opens doors to more education. A postgraduate degree is what students take when they wish to pursue their undergraduate major with more research or clinical study. A postgraduate diploma is not a master’s degree.
Difference Between Postgraduate and Master's Degrees
Shorter than a master's degree qualification, a postgraduate diploma has the same academic level. The main differences between the two diplomas are:
- A master's degree requires 180 credits that are acquired through assignments, exams and coursework.
- A postgraduate degree takes only 120 credits to complete.
- A postgraduate certificate takes only 60 credits for the student to graduate.
- Postgraduate degrees don’t require a dissertation, unlike a master’s degree.
- The coursework and level of content for a postgraduate diploma is relatively the same as a master’s degree.
Courses for a Postgraduate Diploma
From a vocational, legal or academic course load, a student can earn a postgraduate degree in a variety of professional areas. The postgraduate is assessed through coursework, assignments, exams and other benchmarks. Courses in a postgraduate diploma program will further the student’s interest in practical and real-world areas.
Requirements for a Postgraduate Degree
A bachelor’s degree is required for postgraduate degree programs. Some universities will allow extra credits or transfer credits from another institution for students continuing their education from an undergrad to a postgraduate diploma.
At this point in a student’s higher education, the work that he has completed that concerns his area of study can be relevant. Work as an office manager for a law office, traffic representative for an advertising firm or teacher’s assistant can possibly be used as credits toward the diploma. The admissions office or guidance counselor can assist in ensuring the student gets credit for his work experience.
Benefits of a Postgraduate Diploma
Students who are not sure about diving full board into academia can gain much from a postgraduate diploma and all it entails. The workload and subjects can be a good guidepost for figuring out if they want to continue in their area of study or commit to a master’s program.
If you have a specific career goal that you are hotly pursuing, then a postgraduate diploma can place you firmly in your field of choice. A postgraduate diploma is often linked to a lucrative position in a work program that allows you to continue in a company while fast tracking to a higher position.
For students already enrolled in a master’s program, a postgraduate diploma can accelerate their path to graduation.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.