Graduate diploma

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A graduate diploma (GradD, GDip, GrDip, GradDip) 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 (particularly where the graduate diploma is at undergraduate degree level) the postgraduate diploma is a higher qualification.



The graduate diploma is normally taken following a bachelor's degree, and some master's degree programs have graduate diploma as a nested (interim) award. [1] The qualification is at level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework, the same as an honours degree. [2] This qualification is at the same level as the post graduate diploma qualifications awarded in New Zealand institutions and Australian graduate diplomas should not be confused with New Zealand graduate diplomas as they belong to two different qualification levels. [3] [4] [5]


Graduate diplomas offered in Canada (French: Diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées ) [6] are typically taken following a bachelor's degree and a successful award allows progression to a master's degree. Depending on the institution, a graduate diploma in Canada may be at graduate level or bachelor's level. [7] [8] Similar courses at other Canadian institutions may be termed postgraduate diplomas at graduate level and post-baccalaureate diploma at bachelor's level.


In Denmark there are two forms of master's degree. The master's degree or candidatus is a FQ-EHEA second-cycle qualification worth 120 ECTS credits. These degrees are research-based and offered through universities (e.g. University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen Business School). The second form is the Graduate Diploma within the adult further education system, which is worth 60 ECTS credits and is taught part-time. The graduate diploma is normally taken following a bachelor's degree. Diplomas (in Danish: HD) are studied in business-related fields such as Business Administration and Innovation Management. Programs are normally split into Part 1 (graduate certificate) and Part 2 (graduate diploma), each being 60 ECTS Credits (one year of full-time-equivalent study). [9] [10] [11]


In India the graduate diploma, comes one level before a master's degree–level qualification which are usually is a 1/2-year specialized programs. Certain institutes provide master's level programs with increased number lower credit courses for two years. At times for transnational equivalency the same is casually noted as graduate diplomas. Advanced diplomas provided are equivalent to a post-baccalaureate diploma; this is a one to three-year course.


The graduate diploma or higher diploma in the Republic of Ireland is an award at the same level as an honours bachelor's degree. It comprises one year of full-time study and is taken after, and in a different subject from, an earlier bachelor's degree. [12] A wide variety of courses are offered; it is also possible to progress to a master's degree.

The diploma is generally in two forms:

The graduate diploma (GradDip) is offered by the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, HETAC and the University of Limerick. The higher diploma (HDip) is offered by HETAC, NUI institutions, and Trinity College, Dublin.


The graduate diploma forms part of the lifelong education pathway on the Malaysian Qualifications Framework. They are qualifications at the level of a bachelor's degree but with half of the credit value. [13]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, a graduate diploma is an advanced undergraduate qualification normally completed after a bachelor's degree or done at the same time of the bachelors study, and can be used as a bridging qualification to prove a student's ability to undertake postgraduate studies for a completely different field. [14] A graduate diploma (e.g., Graduate Diploma in Education etc.) is different from a postgraduate diploma, which is a course of study at postgraduate level (e.g., Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology etc.). In universities and learning institutes, it is commonly studied by students who have already graduated in a different field and allows them to pursue a new profession. It mainly involves undertaking courses in an accelerated undergraduate level (e.g., normally a mixture of second and third year courses from the bachelor's degree) in order for the student to attain the requirements equivalent to student who studied towards an undergraduate degree.


The graduate diploma is an academic or vocational qualification; as an academic qualification it is often taken after a bachelor's degree although sometimes only a foundation degree is required. It is usually awarded by a university or a graduate school and usually takes two terms of study to complete. It is also possible for academic graduate diploma holders to progress to a master's degree on an accelerated pathway compared to first embarking on a 3- or 4-year degree program. To ensure that the graduate diploma qualification is recognised, the awarding body must be registered with the Singapore Ministry of Education.

The graduate diploma is generally a professional conversion qualification to reskill a graduate with new specialised skills, for instance the GDipPsy - Graduate Diploma in Psychology is aimed at offering specialised skills in psychology. See also postgraduate diploma.

The graduate diploma is offered at different levels by different institutions. The National University of Singapore requires study at master's level, [15] but the graduate diplomas at the Singapore University of Social Sciences are UK (i.e. bachelor's-level) graduate diplomas awarded by the University of London [16] and similarly the Ngee Ann - Adelaide Education Centre offers Australian graduate diplomas (i.e. Australian honours degree level) awarded by the University of Adelaide. [17] The Graduate Diploma of Singapore Raffles Music College is a post-foundation degree qualification rather than post-bachelor's. [18] Graduate diplomas from Aventis School of Management are part-time courses that is accredidated by The Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore (APACS) or registered with European Foundation for Management Development and the European Council for Business Education (ECBE) [19] [20]

The WSQ Graduate Diploma is the highest qualification in Singapore's vocational Workforce Skills Qualifications framework, administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency. [21] This is not tied to the levels of academic degrees.

United Kingdom

In the UK, a graduate diploma is a short course, with a value of 80–120 UK credits (equivalent to 40–60 ECTS credits), [22] that is normally studied by students who have already graduated in another field. Graduate diplomas are distinguished from graduate certificates by having a longer period of study, equivalent to two thirds of an academic year or more. [23] Until the 1990s, the British conservatoires of music offered three year undergraduate courses to some of their students, leading the award of the Graduate Diploma, e.g. GRSM, GTCL, equivalent to a university first degree in music. When a number of conservatoires became affiliated to or constituent colleges of universities, the graduate diplomas were gradually replaced by the award of the BMus degree to all successful students.

A graduate diploma should not be confused with a postgraduate diploma, which is a master's degree-level qualification in the UK. Historically, this has not always been the case, with postgraduate diploma and graduate diploma used interchangeably, but the Quality Assurance Agency now makes a clear distinction between these titles. [24] Some institutions have renamed courses as a result, e.g. The College of Law renamed the official title for its law conversion course from Postgraduate Diploma in Law to Graduate Diploma in Law as, although the law conversion course is studied postgraduately, the contents of the course are only undergraduate in nature.

In 2018, the Royal College of Art launched a new Graduate Diploma in Art and Design programme aimed at preparing graduate students for its master's degree programmes in Art and Design. [25]

United States

In the US, graduate diplomas are "Intermediate Graduate Qualifications" involving study beyond master's level but not reaching doctoral level. They are generally found in professional, rather than academic, fields. Other qualifications at this level include advanced graduate certificates, specialist certificates and specialist degrees. [26]

Related Research Articles

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 bachelor's, 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 and higher level.

A master's degree is an academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

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, some 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.

Diploma Formal documents conferring some honor, degree, or privilege

A diploma is a certificate or deed issued by an educational institution, such as college or university, that testifies that the recipient has successfully completed a particular course of study. The word diploma also refers to an academic award which is given after the completion of study in different courses such as diploma in higher education, diploma in graduation or diploma in post-graduation. Historically, it can also refer to a charter or official document, thus diplomatic, diplomat and diplomacy via the Codex Juris Gentium Diplomaticus.

Bologna Process System for compatibility of higher education qualifications in the European region

The Bologna Process is a series of ministerial meetings and agreements between European countries to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher-education qualifications. The process has created the European Higher Education Area under the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It is named after the University of Bologna, where the Bologna declaration was signed by education ministers from 29 European countries in 1999. The process was opened to other countries in the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe, and governmental meetings have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), Leuven (2009), Budapest-Vienna (2010), Bucharest (2012), Yerevan (2015), Paris (2018), and Rome (2020).

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.

Postgraduate diploma Phase of higher education

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, 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.

A licentiate is a degree similar to master's degree given by universities in some countries of the European Union and Latin America. The term is also used for a person who holds this degree. The term derives from Latin licentia, "freedom", which is applied in the phrases licentia docendi meaning permission to teach and licentia ad practicandum signifying someone who holds a certificate of competence to practise a profession. Many countries have degrees with this title, but they may represent different educational levels.

Australian Qualifications Framework

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.

Honours degree has various meanings in the context of different degrees and education systems. Most commonly it refers to a variant of the undergraduate bachelor's degree containing a larger volume of material or a higher standard of study, or both, rather than an "ordinary", "general" or "pass" bachelor's degree. Honours degrees are sometimes indicated by "Hons" after the degree abbreviation, with various punctuation according to local custom, e.g. "BA (Hons)", "B.A., Hons", etc. In Canada, honours degrees may be indicated with an "H" preceding the degree abbreviation, e.g. "HBA" for Honours Bachelor of Arts or Honours Business Administration.

A Certificate of Higher Education (Cert.H.E./CertHE) is a higher education qualification in the United Kingdom.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) is used by many universities in the United Kingdom to monitor, record and reward passage through a modular degree course and to facilitate movement between courses and institutions. One UK credit is equivalent to the learning outcomes of 10 notional hours of study, thus a university course of 150 notional study hours is worth 15 credits, and a university course of 300 notional study hours is worth 30 credits. A full academic year is worth 120 credits and a full calendar year 180 credits. CATS schemes in use in Higher Education in the UK include CATS, SCOTCAT (Scotland), the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales credit framework (Wales), the Learning and Skills Development Agency credit framework and Open College Network credits.

A postgraduate certificate (abbreviated as PGCert, PgCert, PG Cert, PGC, or PgC is a postgraduate qualification at the level of a master's degree.

The Bologna process for standardisation of European higher education specified an undergraduate degree of at least three years called the "licence" or bachelor's degree, followed by a two-year diploma called the master's degree, then a doctorate, meant to be obtained in at least three years. Because of these indicated schedules, the reform is sometimes (erroneously) referred to as "3-5-8". The system applies to the European Higher Education Area.

Academic certificate

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 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.

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.


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  16. "Programmes". Singapore University of Social Sciences. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
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  22. "Higher education credit framework for England" (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. August 2008. p. 12. Retrieved 9 March 2019. There are, in particular, two main variants in the concept of the graduate diploma both of which are consistent with the expectations of the FHEQ. One is typically a year long and comprises 120 credits; the other relates to programmes of shorter duration and for which 80 credits is typically the minimum.
  23. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 36, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05, retrieved 2016-06-05, Graduate diplomas and certificates are at the same level (6 on the FHEQ/SCQF level 10 on the FQHEIS) but are differentiated from each other by volume of study and learning outcomes. The title 'certificate' normally signifies learning outcomes which would imply study equivalent to at least one-third of a full-time academic year, and the title 'diploma' normally signifies study equivalent to at least two-thirds of a full-time academic year at the relevant level (and/or, where credit is awarded, the volume of credit specified by the relevant credit framework).
  24. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 35, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05, retrieved 2016-06-05, titles with the stem 'graduate' (for example, 'graduate diploma') are used for qualifications from programmes of study that typically require graduate entry, or its equivalent, and have learning outcomes that match relevant parts of the descriptor for a qualification at level 6 on the FHEQ or SCQF levels 9 or 10 on the FQHEIS
  25. RCA. "The Royal College of Art Announces Graduate Diploma in Art & Design". RCA. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  26. "Structure of the U.S. Education System: Intermediate Graduate Qualifications". U.S. Department of Education. February 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2016.