Difference Between Certificate and Diploma

Certificate vs Diploma

Difference between certificate and diploma is not hard to distinguish if you understand the standings of each credential. Certificate and Diploma are qualifications that are awarded by educational institutions and other training schools to those who pass their courses. To obtain either a certificate or a diploma, a student must fulfill the requirements of the course. There is a thin dividing line between a certificate and a diploma, and many tend to use them interchangeably which is wrong. This article highlights the features of both diplomas and a certificate to enable a student to choose either that suits his requirements and helps him in broadening his career path. You must remember that both these courses add some value to your skill set though they have different natures.

What is a Certificate?

A certificate is a document awarded to a person upon completion of a course of study not leading to a diploma. Certificate programs are typically specialized in one particular skill set or an area and do not provide a broad overview of a field of study. Certificates are a good source of career advancement for anyone who has a degree and work experience in the field. Let us say that you are into accountancy and have a bachelor’s degree with relevant work experience in the field, and want to add a feather in your cap. So, you can do a short course in forensic accounting and get the certificate to strengthen your career path. This will also let you have many more options for yourself. Certificate builds upon your qualification and helps you in your work area.

Difference Between Certificate and Diploma

What is a Diploma?

If we go by dictionary, a diploma is a document issued by an educational institution (a college or a University) certifying that the candidate has successfully completed a particular course of study and has earned the diploma. Diploma courses are more in depth and of longer duration than a certificate course. Though less in value than a degree, they provide more knowledge and are also accorded more value by prospective employers than certificates. Diplomas can even help a person change his profession. If you are in a profession that you are disillusioned with and do not have the time to do a regular degree course, a diploma course might do the trick for you. In the US, students completing their 10th class examinations are awarded high school diplomas. However, adults who for some reason could not pass their high school exam can later in life complete it to get General Education Development (GED) diploma that is regarded equivalent to high school diploma.

What is the difference between Certificate and Diploma?

Diplomas and certificates are awarded by educational institutions to students who complete a course of study. These documents certify that the candidate has successfully completed the course, but they differ in few aspects.

• Certificates are issued by an institution in all domains including academics whereas diplomas are awarded only by educational institutions.

• Diplomas provide more in-depth knowledge of a field of study and are of longer duration than certificates. Certificate programs are typically specialized in one particular skill set or an area and do not provide a broad overview of a field of study.

• When it comes to course fee, usually diploma fees are higher than certificate fees. That is because the diploma course is broader than a certificate course.

• When it comes to employability, diplomas are accepted more than certificates. Sure, a certificate says you have some knowledge about a field, but diploma says you have an extensive knowledge about a field. Therefore, employers prefer diplomas to certificates.

However, the situation becomes confusing when some educational institutions name their certification programs as diplomas. When faced with such a situation, it is prudent to make sure about the value of the course in the field before perusing it. Also, you can check for the duration, fees, and course work of the course to decide whether you should follow it or not.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Certificate by Mastawindu (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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