Choosing The Right Degree: What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma?

Choosing The Right Degree: What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma?

What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma? male student smiling

What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma?

In case you’re willing to continue your education but don’t have enough time to complete your master’s studies neither feel like writing another dissertation, a postgraduate diploma could be your perfect fit.

Available in most subjects, postgraduate qualifications are ideal if you need a career boost but aren’t interested in undertaking significant amounts of academic research.

“Okay”, you say, “but what is postgraduate diploma?”

It’s a postgraduate qualification awarded after a university degree, which supplements the original degree and awards students with a graduate diploma. 

“That’s nice”, you continue, “but what is a postgraduate diploma equivalent to?”

Postgraduate diplomas are qualifications at the same level of study as master’s degrees, but shorter and without the most burdening task: Writing a dissertation. 

That makes them more advanced than undergraduate bachelor’s degrees.

“But where’s the catch? Why study a postgraduate diploma instead of master’s?”

Firstly, a postgraduate diploma can be a lifesaver for those already enrolled on a master’s course, who may find their situation changes. In that case, it’s possible to graduate with a postgraduate diploma, which is a lot better than nothing. 

Also, you might have a change of heart!

Upon starting your masters, you might come to realize that in-depth research just isn’t your thing and decide to skip the dissertation altogether. Having the option to graduate with a postgraduate diploma saves you from wasting your time and efforts in the long run.

So, unless you’re absolutely certain that a master’s degree is right for you, entering a postgraduate degree programme makes more sense. 

The routes may differ for both, but in the end, they both add up to your corporate value, taking you closer to reaching your career goals.

Not only that but due to their length, postgraduate degrees easier to either take a career break for or to fit around a current job.

“So basically, you get a master’s degree worthy of education with less effort?”

What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma? well yes, but actually no

We’ll break it down for you. 

The duration of a postgraduate diploma is around 30 weeks (two terms). The curriculum covers all the important subjects of your specialization but it does not include any thesis. 

Students looking to enhance their knowledge to fulfill industry requirements are most likely to opt for this degree. You can call it a quick career fix, that works surprisingly well.

On the other hand, you have a master’s degree with an average duration of two years. It is an advanced study program that covers all important concepts, theoretical, practical application as well as in-depth research in your area of specialization. 

With greater knowledge comes better compensation, so master’s graduates can expect better job opportunities and career options.

So, the answer to what is the difference between postgraduate and masters degree would be that the first is awarded for completing an educational program in a specific field while the second shows that a candidate has achieved a certain level of mastery in a particular field.

Before we continue, let’s briefly go over what does postgraduate mean in education:

What is Postgraduate?

Postgraduate is an all-encompassing term related to all types of studies that are undertaken upon the completion of a Bachelor’s degree. 

In the USA, postgraduate learning is referred to as graduate education.

How Many Types of Postgraduate Degrees Are There?

There are four types of postgraduate degrees including postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma, a master’s degree, and PhD degree.

Since we cleared that up, let get to the main topic:

What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma?

If you have decided to obtain a postgraduate degree, one of the first things you’ll need to know is how it ranks according to the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). 

Just like a master’s degree, the postgraduate diploma is a Level 9 Award. Entry requirements are typically Honours Bachelor Degrees but holders of Ordinary Bachelor Degrees may also apply. 

Even though they’re at the same academic level, a masters degree is normally at least 180 credits (taken from exams, assignments, and so on), while a postgraduate diploma is 120 credits. 

Under the heading of a postgraduate diploma, you can find academic and vocational courses, such as a legal practice course.

Academic courses

When it comes to academic courses, the biggest difference between a postgraduate diploma and a master’s degree is that the first one doesn’t require a thesis. When it comes to coursework, you can expect it to be at a similar level as other postgraduate courses, especially in terms of content.

Vocational courses

With vocational courses, the curriculum’s level largely depends on the subject, but the intent is that it will prepare you for a career in your area of interest. You can expect postgraduate diplomas in business, marketing, and similar fields to be not only theoretical but also practical.

Speaking of postgraduate qualifications, apart from a postgraduate diploma you can choose an even ‘lighter’ version to better suit your goals: A postgraduate certificate.

What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma? salary difference with bachelor's and graduate degree

What’s The Difference Between Postgraduate Certificate vs Graduate Diploma?

As we’re making the comparison, let’s list the similarities between both programmes first.

Both postgraduate diploma and postgraduate certificate are vocational qualifications on par with a master’s degree that can be acquired after completion of a university degree. Also, both require a bachelor’s degree to enroll in the programme.

They are both focused on developing practical skills in a certain field and represent the best option for students who consider a change in their career path. Whichever you choose, you’ll most likely be provided with the flexibility to explore yourself in different fields of study.

Another desirable trait of both degrees is that they’re less expensive and require less time to complete, compared to a master’s.

Now, onto the differences:

First, and the most obvious one is the duration of both programmes. 

While a postgraduate diploma takes at least one year to complete (two semesters), and is 120 credits in total, a postgraduate certificate can be completed within weeks (around 15 weeks to be exact, which is half of the usual duration of a postgraduate diploma).

The next one is the possibilities.

Unlike a postgraduate certificate, a postgraduate diploma can be developed into a full Master’s degree by completing your dissertation.

Unlike postgraduate certificates, for some professions, a graduate diploma is a mandatory credential, proving the owner’s credibility and experience.

In conclusion, both graduate diplomas and postgraduate certificates are considerable choices for advancing your career and adding layers to your skillset. 

What you need to know is which one better suits your education and career plans.

How do you decide between a postgraduate degree and master’s degree?

Worry not, as we also covered this topic for you.

Deciding Between Postgraduate Diploma vs Masters Degree

How will you know if you made the right choice?

We recommend you go through this checklist of five statements per programme to gain a sense of a broader picture.

Go For a Postgraduate Degree if: 

You Are Short on Time 

We already mentioned that master’s programmes expect students to complete 180 credits worth of learning, while a postgraduate diploma requires you to complete 120 credits worth of work, in much less time. 

In case you’re a working professional, your long working hours will most likely interrupt your commitment to master’s studies, which leads to a postgraduate diploma being a better fit. 

You Need a Quick Career Advancement 

Postgraduate diploma programmes are perfect for brushing up your skill set by providing you with practical, industry-relevant, subject-specific knowledge and experience.

Earning this qualification will put you in a better chance of bagging your dream job and increasing your earning power.

You’re Looking For a Career Change 

Not only do postgraduate diplomas open up job opportunities in your field but also enable you to change tracks entirely. 

Whether you are finding an alternate interest after working in a particular field for a long time or looking for a course of study that complements your studies, enrolling in a postgraduate diploma programme opens doors to exciting new possibilities.

You Need Flexibility

With postgraduate diplomas come a lot of options in terms of flexibility included. 

For example, you have the freedom to choose the type of course and length of study. The programmes also offer flexible study options to help you fit your studies alongside your family and work commitments, providing you the choice of where, when, and how you want to learn. 

You may choose between online learning, part-time study, biannual start dates, work-based learning etc.

You Want to Obtain Transferable Skills

The hands-on experience gained during your postgraduate course will boost your organizational skills, time management skills, and ability to meet deadlines. 

You will also develop transferable skills in project management, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving. 

Practical experience will give you something concrete to talk about in an interview, especially if you have limited work experience in the field you’re looking to conquer.

What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma? the student's hands are shaking hands

You Should Choose a Master’s Degree if:

You Aim For a PhD

If you want to continue your education towards Ph.D. studies, obtaining a master’s degree is your surest bet. It will give you insight into the intensity of coursework you will be expected to do at the Ph.D. level, especially when it comes to a dissertation. 

You Want to Work Abroad

If you’re looking for a qualification that can keep up with your globetrotting career, you should go for a master’s degree as it’s internationally recognized. 

You Want to Beef up Your CV 

In today’s increasingly competitive market, furthering your education with a master’s degree can help set you apart from other graduates. 

It’s no secret that the most desirable jobs are often reserved for graduates with masters-level qualifications. Also, you probably heard rumors that a master’s degree is the new bachelor’s.  

Don’t take it from us: Do some research within your field of interest and see for yourself.

You Want to Build Professional Connections

Graduate studies provide you with a great opportunity to build your professional network, making valuable connections with both teachers and students. 

You never know where these connections can take you in the future as you advance through your career.

You Need Insight Into Your Industry

If you don’t feel competent enough to enter the professional world despite holding a bachelor’s degree, going for a postgraduate degree will shape you into a competent professional within your field.

Pursuing a master’s degree will give you the opportunity to study in-depth within your area of interest through focused education, expanding on your technical abilities and sharpening your skills, helping you become an expert in the field.

One thing you should keep in mind while deciding between a post graduate diploma vs masters is that both can serve as an excellent career boost, as long as you have your goals sorted out.

It would be good to reconsider your current career path, as well as how much time and money you are ready to invest in your academics. 

Once you weigh out the pros and cons of both degrees you’ll be able to make the choice that goes best with your long-term career plans.

Wrapping up: Is Postgraduate Diploma Worth it?

If you’re looking for a hands-on approach, a postgraduate diploma has it all.

As it focuses on the technical aspects of your course rather than academics only, you are bound to emerge as a career-ready graduate.

What’s better than an industry-specific degree?

Not only are you fully aware of the nature of your work rather than having fake expectations on the same, but you get the immediate return on your investment.

You get much better career opportunities than with a bachelor’s degree at a lower cost compared to master’s studies.

If you ask us, it pretty much sounds like a win-win situation.

What is left for you is to carefully weigh out your career goals with your current opportunities.

One thing’s for sure: It’ll be a time well spent.

And for the end, we answer some of the burning questions in case something is left unclear:

  • Is a postgraduate diploma considered a degree?

Absolutely yes. It’s at the same level as Masters degrees, only takes less to obtain and you don’t have to write a dissertation.

  • What is the difference between a diploma and a postgraduate diploma?

A diploma can be an undergraduate or postgraduate. While an undergraduate diploma does not require a degree, a postgraduate requires completion of a graduation degree. 

  • Does a PG Diploma have value?

You bet! You can start or change your career as a professional in your desired field in less time. Practical knowledge offered in the programme will help you confidently take on the industry. 

  • Is a post graduate diploma equal to a masters degree?

The answer is yes. It’s best suited for students looking to enhance their professional skills as it focuses on a more practical application to enter the labor market.

If your overall impression is that you’d gladly take on the challenge of obtaining a postgraduate diploma, we have an offer you cannot resist.

Did you know that schools globally are dealing with a shortage of skilled professors?

Use this chance to pivot during the current crisis: Develop competencies essential to teaching and learning, curriculum development, learning theories, evaluation frameworks, and assessment tools.

The 100% online Postgraduate Diploma in Education Leadership and Teaching Methodology from the Copperbelt University is designed for individuals aspiring to lead in the field of education and teaching.

Learn more about the program by downloading our prospectus.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any additional questions as we’ll be more than happy to help you.

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