Although every recognised tertiary institution will list an undergraduate degree as an obligatory prerequisite for obtaining a postgraduate diploma, there are times admission boards are willing to make an exception.
Especially now, when the general trend in education is to allow easy progression between qualification levels. A lot has changed since the only learning scenario was 16 years of studying and 40 years of working.
We just don’t do that anymore.
Because the global workforce is becoming increasingly dynamic, professionals with different backgrounds are compelled to fuel their careers with further education.
It seems that educational institutions have responded to the situation effectively by reducing barriers to learning opportunities.
At the very happy end – some can even head out for a postgraduate diploma without completing bachelor studies.
Here’s the lowdown.
Even though most of us will think of postgraduate studies as equivalent to master’s or Ph.D. programmes, the term is actually much broader. It includes other forms of studies undertaken upon obtaining an associate or bachelor’s degree. Two of the most common remaining postgraduate options award students with a postgraduate diploma (PGDipl, PGD) or a postgraduate certificate (PGCert, PGC).
Essentially, postgraduate diploma programmes are non-research counterparts of master’s studies. In practice, this means that a postgraduate student will adhere to almost the same curriculum, complete similar or identical coursework, take much the same assignments, but – skip the thesis project part.
A postgraduate diploma is worth 120 CATS credits in terms of educational points earned, which is 60 European ECTS credits (equivalent to ⅔ of a master’s). In the US system, these studies are termed “graduate” diplomas or “Intermediate Graduate Qualifications” and are usually undertaken as part of continuing professional development.
There are three main types of programmes at the postgraduate diploma level, each suitable for different development purposes:
No matter the accented learning aspect, all programmes have three things in common: they generally take less time to complete, are available in most subjects, and don’t include the dissertation project.
The admission process varies significantly, depending on the institution and the selected programme of study. Most universities and graduate schools will require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, usually ranking them by performance.
In addition to this essential requirement, some universities will often list the following prerequisites as part of checking student’s eligibility:
Naturally, the higher the competition, the more demanding entry requirements will be.
Not every enrollment board will list all of these demands. However, having a bachelor’s degree is the thing you’ll often see at the top of the requirements list.
You can still apply to do a postgraduate diploma, even if you didn’t earn a bachelor’s previously.
Your options in choosing a major might be somewhat limited, and you will have to prove your expertise in another way, but it’s possible.
In a nutshell, all you need to do is leverage your work experience and earn credits through:
Put differently, postgraduate without a degree is usually reserved for people who, for whatever reason, haven’t completed undergraduate studies but have spent some time in the workforce instead.
Most admission boards will likely consider the eligibility of candidates who have more than five years of working experience, while some will even entitle a sort of “advanced standing” position to those who have been on the job for more than seven years.
On top of that, having advanced certificates in a relevant area can be a significant advantage. Candidates with professional qualifications such as ACCA and CIMA – for example – have a higher chance of being admitted to the postgraduate diploma programme.
After all, these alternative entry schemes only seem logical: postgraduate studies are conceived to improve the expertise of working professionals by education. As more practical qualifications, they are intended to provide practical skills that lead more directly into paid employment.
Naturally, the outlined admission requirements are general in nature, and you should always check the specific enrolment eligibility with a selected tertiary institution.
There are two possible answers to this question: either you need the qualification to boost your career growth or are looking for a way to convert to another field of work.
Whatever might be the case, the benefits of acquiring a postgraduate diploma lie in the practical applicability of the skills acquired during studies.
On top of that, going for PGDipl is usually a much easier path to fuel your career growth, considering it’s less time-consuming and cost-effective.
There is no universal list of prices here, but you can expect fees for a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDipl) to be significantly lower than those for an equivalent master’s.
Additionally, programmes that students can attend through an open distance learning system tend to be even more affordable, and not just because you’re potentially reducing living costs.
A postgraduate diploma is a far more reachable goal than a full master’s when it comes to duration as well. It’s usually completed within two terms of study, which is approximately 30 weeks. PGCert is even shorter and doesn’t require more than one term of study (15 weeks).
To sum it up, if you’re a working professional looking to take your resume to a whole new level, a postgraduate diploma is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Even if you don’t hold a bachelor’s degree.
To get back to where we started from – yes, modes of education are rapidly changing and proliferating. Today, you can study in a way impossible to imagine a decade ago or enroll in programmes that were hard to reach yesterday.
That’s why the best advice is to seize the opportunity. If you don’t, someone else will, thus contributing to a more competitive job market.
If you see a programme that could be your perfect fit, don’t be instantly discouraged if you don’t fully meet the admission criteria. Always reach out, explain your specific background, and check if you’re eligible.
Best of luck!