An academic certificate is a document that certifies that a person has received specific education or has passed a test or series of tests.
In many countries, a certificate is a qualification attained in secondary education. For instance, students in the Republic of Ireland sit the Junior Certificate and follow it with the Leaving Certificate. Similarly, other countries have awards, for instance, in Australia the Higher School Certificate (HSC) in New South Wales, the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in Victoria, etc., is the examination taken on completion of secondary education. In parts of the United Kingdom the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is the normal examination taken at age 16 and the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Subsidiary Level (AS-level) and Advanced Level (A-levels) are taken at 17 and 18.
In many other countries, certificates are qualifications in higher education. For example, in the Republic of Ireland, the National Certificate, which was replaced in 2006 by the "Higher Certificate". These have the titles Certificate (at an undergraduate level), Graduate Certificate (at an undergraduate level, but requiring the completion of a prior undergraduate degree for admission) and Postgraduate Certificate (at a postgraduate level). In Hong Kong, students take the exams to receive Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. Certificate is below the standard of the associate degree, diploma, higher diploma and advanced diploma, which are below the bachelor's degree. Postgraduate certificates are taken after the bachelor's degree and are sometimes more vocationally oriented than master's degrees.
In Australia, a certificate is a qualification offered by a university or other higher education provider which is shorter than a degree or diploma. Certificates are generally provided by TAFE colleges or non-academic registered training organizations (often workplaces). There are four ranks of certificate in Australia, indicated by Roman numerals, e.g., Cert. IV in Horticulture. The time spent varies, but in general a Certificate I will be granted after a course of only a few weeks, while a Cert. IV may take up to twelve months. A Diploma directly follows Cert. IV and may rightly be considered equivalent to a hypothetical Certificate V.
In the United Kingdom, a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) requires successful completion of 120 credits at level four of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (level 7 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework). This is equivalent to one year of full-time university education at first-year level. Each credit is equivalent to a nominal ten hours of study, and as such the CertHE is 1,200 hours of study. This compares with 360 credits (spanning levels 4, 5 and 6/480 credits spanning levels 7 to 10 in Scotland) for an honours bachelor's degree, and 240 credits (spanning level 4 and 5/7 and 8 in Scotland) for a Diploma of Higher Education.  A certificate can also be a vocational qualification of between 13 and 36 credits at any of the levels of the Regulated Qualifications Framework, the level being specified in the qualification title. 
In the United States, a certificate may be offered by an institute of higher education. These certificates usually signify that a student has reached a standard of knowledge about a certain vocational or professional subject. Certificate programs can be completed more quickly than associate degrees and often do not have general education requirements. Undergraduate certificates represent completion of a specific program offered in coordination with a bachelor's degree. Graduate certificates represent completion of studies beyond the bachelor's degree, yet short of a master's degree.
In the State of Maryland, a Certificate of Merit was, until recently, issued to graduating high-school seniors who met certain academic requirements (such as completion of advanced courses and a cumulative GPA of 3.00); the statewide certificate has since been replaced by "endorsements" defined by each local school system.
It also may be awarded as a necessary certification to validate that a student is considered competent in a certain specific networking skill area in information technology. Thus a computer engineer or computer science graduation most likely will have to obtain additional certificates on and pertaining to the specific technologies or equipment used by the hiring corporation; if not, such employer may suffer unwanted penalties like forgoing (voiding the contract) the protections of a certain level of customer service or warranties.
It is becoming more common for higher education institutions to award certificates to continuing education students. These certificates vary, usually involve rigorous courses, and can be affiliated with many associations. Examples would include CMA or CGA. University certificates are also becoming more common ways for people to engage in areas of interest while working full-time. They can be completed with a minimum grade in a series of university courses, and are sometimes taken as a way to further one's professional career (either by requirement or choice). They are gaining credence and ground in both the academic world and the working world.
An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including undergraduate degrees, master's, and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries there are lower level higher education qualifications that are also titled degrees.
A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to six years. The two most common bachelor's degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science. In some institutions and educational systems, certain bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate educations after a first degree has been completed, although more commonly the successful completion of a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for further courses such as a master's or a doctorate.
An associate degree is an undergraduate degree awarded after a course of post-secondary study lasting two to three years. It is a level of qualification above a high school diploma, GED, or matriculation, and below a bachelor's degree.
A Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) is an undergraduate professional degree which prepares students for work as a teacher in schools. In some countries such as Tanzania and Kenya, additional tasks like field work and research are required in order for the student to be fully qualified to teach. It may also be accompanied with or followed by tests for licenses or certifications required for teachers in some areas.
A diploma is a document awarded by an educational institution testifying the recipient has graduated by successfully completing their courses of studies. Historically, it has also referred to a charter or official document of diplomacy.
A graduate diploma is generally a qualification taken after completion of a first degree, although the level of study varies in different countries from being at the same level as the final year of a bachelor's degree to being at a level between a master's degree and a doctorate. In some countries the graduate diploma and postgraduate diploma are synonymous, while in others the postgraduate diploma is a higher qualification.
A higher diploma is an academic award in Iraq, Libya, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland and Oman. In Iraq, it's one year after bachelor's degree. In Ireland it is a postgraduate qualification at the same level as the honours bachelor's degree. In the United Kingdom, the diploma is equivalent to higher tier (A*-C) GCSE.
A postgraduate diploma is a postgraduate qualification awarded after a university degree, which supplements the original degree and awards them with a graduate diploma. Countries that award postgraduate diplomas include but are not limited to Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Spain, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Republic of Panama the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe. Level of education and recognition differ per issuing country.
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifies the standards for educational qualifications in Australia. It is administered nationally by the Australian Government's Department of Industry, with oversight from the States and Territories, through the Standing Council of Tertiary Education Skills and Employment. While the AQF specifies the standards, education and training organisations are authorised by accrediting authorities to issue a qualification.
A Certificate of Higher Education (Cert.H.E./CertHE) is a higher education qualification in the United Kingdom.
A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is a higher education qualification in the United Kingdom. It is awarded after two years of full-time study at a university or other higher education institution. Rated as a Level 5 qualification on both the Regulated Qualifications Framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the European Qualifications Framework, the DipHE was once seen as the more academic equivalent of the Higher National Diploma, which was perceived as vocational. However, universities have since integrated both qualifications into the first and second years of an undergraduate honours degree, and they can now be considered equivalent.
A postgraduate certificate (abbreviated as PGCert, PG Cert or PGC is a postgraduate qualification at the level of a master's degree.
The Malaysian Qualifications Framework or the MQF is a unified system of post secondary qualifications offered on a national basis in Malaysia. It is administered by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), a statutory body under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE).
In the UK education sector, there are a wide range of qualification types offered by the United Kingdom awarding bodies. Qualifications range in size and type, can be academic, vocational or skills-related, and are grouped together into different levels of difficulty. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, which are on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and are awarded by bodies with degree awarding powers, and Regulated qualifications, which are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and are accredited by Ofqual in England, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland and Qualifications Wales in Wales. In Scotland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, Scottish Qualifications Authority qualifications and Scottish Vocational Qualifications/Modern Apprenticeships, which are on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Scottish Higher Education Qualifications are on both the SCQF and the FHEQ.
A graduate certificate is an educational credential representing completion of specialized training at the college or university level. A graduate certificate can be awarded by universities upon completion of certain coursework indicating mastering of a specific subject area. Graduate certificates represent training at different levels in different countries and can be at bachelor's degree or master's degree level.
The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is the national credit transfer system for all levels of qualifications in Scotland. Awards are classified under the framework at levels, and study undertaken at that level is valued in credit points. The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership promotes lifelong learning in the country. Through the SCQF, learners can gain a better understanding of qualifications and plan their future learning.
Alternative pathways in education are alternative means of obtaining educational qualifications, other than the traditional means of gaining access to or completing the required study to obtain the educational qualifications.
Post-secondary qualifications are qualifications typically studied for after successful completion of secondary school. In Mauritius, this is usually after successful completion of the Higher School Certificate or its equivalent, although select qualifications may permit early school leaving or require additional study. A variety of different post-secondary qualifications are offered in Mauritius.
The national qualification frameworks in the United Kingdom are qualifications frameworks that define and link the levels and credit values of different qualifications.
Post-secondary qualifications are qualifications typically studied for after successful completion of secondary school. In Sri Lanka, this is usually after successful completion of the General Certificate of Education. A variety of different post-secondary qualifications are offered in Sri Lanka.