Difference Between Diploma and Associate Degree

Education is among the most bankable assets for an individual in terms of choosing the right career. The higher you climb the education ladder, the better equipped you are to deal with life and its challenges. A Diploma and an Associate Degree are among the wide range of academic options you can pursue.

The first difference will be in the duration of the courses. A diploma is a stepping stone for an individual, and usually takes up to four years for completion. At times it is mandatory for students to obtain their diplomas before they pursue higher education. To earn an associate degree, diploma is considered as a pre-requisite. The length is shorter, strictly two years, but can be extended if you are working alongside studies.

A diploma will cover basic courses on English, Mathematics, History and Sciences. However, an associate degree will be more confined, where you will study about a particular area rather than tap into a specific skill of the student.

The other difference comes in the cost of the education.  If you are attending a public school, a diploma will be relatively cost free. However, if you choose to earn your diploma from a private school, the cost will vary depending on the reputation of the institution. Associate degrees will be undertaken at college level, and will cost comparatively more than a diploma. However, the overall cost will be relatively less if you had attended a reputable university for a four-year degree.

With the job market becoming competitive, a diploma holder will only get an entry level job, such as clerks, food worker or receptionist. Having an associate degree on the other hand, will increase your employment chances due to the somewhat specialized nature of the education. You can tap into various areas depending on your degree – medical assistant, technician, graphic designer, publisher, accountant etc.

In general, an associate degree has a higher value attached to it when compared with a diploma, which is just considered as a starting point for most.


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    Diploma is a type of certification granted to an individual by an educational institution in recognition of completing a particular course or an academic degree. In modern practice, it is a document which is received after the completion of high school.

    Image courtesy: educatorstraining.in

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    Associate degree

    It is a two-year undergrad degree awarded to students by community colleges, or universities upon the completion of a course or a field of study. It is the lowest ranked degree in the hierarchy of post-secondary education. However, the degree can be a rewarding one, especially in the field of health care.

    Image courtesy: blogs.luc.edu

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