The Differences Between a Diploma, Certificate and a Degree


Many people can benefit from post-secondary education. Gaining specialist knowledge of a subject can help you thrive in your current job or enable you to launch a new career. Whatever you want to achieve from going back to school, there are multiple programs to assist you.

You can begin the process with a topic of interest, but you must identify the appropriate path. All achievements lead to a specific outcome, so you must ensure you travel the correct route. With various courses available, making the decision might be easier said than done.

In this post, we define what makes certificate, degree, and diploma programs unique. Then, you can pinpoint the course that prepares you for your future job.

What Is a Diploma?

A diploma is an academic post-secondary program focusing on a specific subject. A diploma program typically includes classes that prioritize hands-on training. Students learn the practical skills to prepare for a particular field or position. This course of study is great for those who want a practical experience that enables them to jump straight into their chosen career upon completion.

What Is a Certificate?

A certificate is a shorter, post-secondary course. Students may enroll in a certificate program to obtain further knowledge of a single subject or to aid professional development. Like the diploma, certificate programs generally teach practical skills to prepare students for a certain occupation, with classes taking place at a vocational institution.

What Is a Degree?

A degree, also known as a bachelor’s degree, is the completion of an undergraduate program at a college or university. It targets a particular career path, with many courses focusing on traditional academic subjects, such as business, the arts, humanities, and sciences. The duration is longer, and a degree student will learn more in-depth knowledge of their chosen field.

Graduates can also opt to obtain a graduate degree, called a master’s or Ph.D., through further education.

Top Tips to Consider Before Choosing Your Program

Certificates, diplomas, and degrees all have their place. These qualifications bring various advantages, but that doesn’t mean they are all suitable for you. Below, we discuss the key things you need to know about these programs before you secure a place.

How long the program takes to complete

Time requirements are important for people attending college, especially for mature students who have responsibilities outside of the classroom. All courses demand a level of commitment. It’s vital that you understand the timings to ensure successful completion.

The length of certificate, diploma, and degree courses varies. Certificate programs tend to be the shortest and typically take a few months to a year to complete. Diploma programs take approximately two years, and a degree takes between two and six years.

However, shorter courses are available. For example, the Diploma in Business Administration at Citi College lasts 30 weeks. You can check the length of the program you are interested in before enrolling.

The training you will receive

Careers are usually the end goal for students, so your chosen classes should reflect the training you need. A diploma encourages hands-on experience and the development of specific skills. Ultimately, it’s a great experience for those who want to pursue practical careers.

Similarly, the certificate program provides focused training for a specialist area, while the degree teaches a variety of skills with a combination of core and subject-specific classes.

The classroom experience

The classroom type also differs. For a student in a degree program, campus life may consist of several academic-based classes, whereas a diploma student will enjoy more practical learning. Students studying for a certificate can expect to strengthen their skills with career-focused education.

Your job prospects

Each program type will influence your career differently. Try to understand what each program will offer you, and research your chosen industry well. Some jobs require a degree, while diplomas and certificates are requisites for others.

You want to complete the qualification that will best prepare you for future employment and impress prospective employers when they read your resume. You can also think about how it will advance your skill set, allowing you to change careers, swap positions, and earn a higher salary.

Find Certificate and Diploma Programs at Citi College, Private Career College Mississauga and Private Career College Toronto

If you’re interested in hands-on training programs that teach you the skills to master your career, enroll at Citi College! We offer a range of programs at our private career college in Mississauga and our private career college in Toronto that help students land a job after graduation. We know flexibility is necessary when you return to school, which is why we offer in-person, virtual, and remote learning classes.

Explore our business, engineering, healthcare, and information technology diploma programs and set yourself up for success. Get in touch today to discuss our colleges, courses, financial resources, and more.

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