Q: What is the difference between a certificate, diploma and a degree?
When you are deciding on an education path, there can be many options, and the different levels of qualifications can be a little confusing. Your decision usually comes down to the career you wish to pursue and the time you have to give to study.
Certificate qualifications are the minimum qualifications to enter most industries.
They are separated into four levels (cert i, ii, iii and iv), each covering more in-depth knowledge and technical skills the higher they go.
provides basic vocational skills and knowledge.
Certificate II and Certificate III
provide more advanced skills and in-depth knowledge and can be studied as part of a traineeship or apprenticeship.
provides a much broader knowledge base and is often considered the equivalent of six to 12 months of degree study.
is a great way to further your studies without committing to a university degree. To enrol in a graduate certificate, you must have already completed a Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma.
A diploma-level qualification prepares you for a career that requires more complex skills and knowledge and can be used to develop high-level expertise in particular areas. A diploma level of education is suited to those who might like to hold a supervisory role or plan to complete a relevant degree later on. A diploma qualification generally takes one to two years to complete and learning outcomes can be considered ‘equivalent’ to one or two years of study.
Advanced diplomas focus on advanced practical skills and expertise to prepare you for work in a chosen or specialised area.
There are many benefits to studying online. You can study from the comfort of your home and have access to the course 24/7, meaning your course can fit around your busy schedule.
Online learning can feel more relaxed than studying in a classroom. It also saves you the time and money it would otherwise cost to travel to and from classes.
However, online learning may not be for everyone. If self-discipline, time management and organisation are not your strong points, you may struggle to keep up with your online course. These skills are crucial for online learning because you will be managing your learning independently, and will need to maintain a schedule.
Studying online is best suited to those who have good communication skills, can discipline themselves and stick to a self-made schedule. If you can do that, online learning will be a breeze.
Associate degrees are two-year qualifications and the coursework focuses on preparing the learner for a career using hands-on, practical learning methods. In addition, an Associate degree is often used to gain entry to particular bachelor’s degrees once completed.
A bachelor’s degree is the ‘base’ university-level qualification and prepares learners to enter many occupations and professions. This higher education usually takes three years full-time (but can be studied part-time) to complete and often leads to postgraduate study. Some courses require specific entry requirements or prerequisites, including prior subject knowledge, work experience, a test or the provision of a portfolio. Individual providers have their own requirements, so it is essential to research them individually to ensure the course is right for you.
This graduate program takes one-two years and gives learners further study to gain higher level, specialised skills in a chosen area of study. A masters degree often involves developing a thesis.
Check out this article for a more in-depth look into the different qualifications you can get in Australia and figure out the best next step for you.