Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Diploma vs Degree: what’s the difference?

Diploma vs Degree: what’s the difference?

May 4, 2021

“Diploma vs Degree: what’s the difference?” This is one of the most common questions asked by school leavers, so we asked the Student Advisors at the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) to explain.

“Choosing a diploma vs degree can sometimes be a confusing decision, but finding out about what each of these qualifications is the first step to kick starting your higher education journey,” said Issey Wilson, a Student Advisor at ICMS.

Diploma vs Degree

What is a Diploma?

Duration: A diploma is a certificate course that typically takes about one (1) year to complete.

Job Outcomes: A diploma qualification provides you with the skills and knowledge needed to get an entry level job in your area of specialisation.

Pathways: Sometimes you also have the option to use your diploma as a pathway to further studies at a university or college. For a example, you could study a Diploma of Business at Aspire Institute.

Structure and Subjects: At the Aspire Institute a diploma is two trimesters (2 x 14 weeks), with four subjects per trimester. Some of the subjects studied under a Diploma of Business include:

  • Pathway to Success
  • Marketing
  • Management Solutions for a Changing World
  • Global Citizenship

Students who complete this qualification can use this diploma as a stand-alone qualification, or as a pathway to a Bachelor of Business degree.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a diploma?

A diploma could be right for you if you are wanting to gain an entry level job in your field in a short time.

Diploma Courses Advantages:


  • can be completed more quickly than a bachelor degree
  • can have lower entry requirements, making them easier to get into
  • may offer additional support to students needing extra assistance
  • give students the option to progress to a bachelor degree
  • are an opportunity to gain confidence before embarking on further studies

Diploma Courses Disadvantages:

  • Employers may favour a job candidate with a bachelor degree.
  • The range jobs available to diploma qualified students is not as broad.
  • Those with diploma qualifications may need to work longer and harder to gain the level of seniority that a bachelor degree qualified person needs to.
  • In the future, diploma qualified employees may find themselves excluded from consideration for more senior managerial roles.
  • The shorter time studying a diploma means that students may miss out on the university experience that is a valuable time to make connections, develop independence from parents and, of course, have fun.

What is a Bachelor Degree?

Duration: A bachelor degree is an advanced tertiary education option awarded by a university or college that typically takes between 3-7 years to complete, depending on your choice of specialisation, such as hospitality, marketing or sport, for example.

Job Outcomes: A bachelor degree is often the minimum qualification sought by employers looking to place an employee with a view to  progressing that person to a more senior management-level role.

Pathways: Depending on your level of education, you can do an undergraduate (bachelor), postgraduate (master). Individuals will first study an undergraduate degree, and then pursue a postgraduate degree – if they wish to further their education.

Structure and Subjects: Another key factor that differentiates a diploma vs degree is that a degree not only includes specialisation subjects, but also core subjects such as Marketing or Business. This allows for your education to be both well rounded and versatile.

For example, a Bachelor of Business from ICMS is a three year degree with four subjects per trimester, as well as an included Industry Training component. The industry training included in the bachelor degree means that bachelor degree qualified students receive more than a formal academic qualification. They also gain real work experience, connections within companies – and an impressive CV.

The  first year core subjects of the Bachelor of Business degree are the same as the Diploma of Business subjects. Along with the core subjects, other subjects offered within this degree include:

  • Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Pricing and Distribution
  • Guerrilla Marketing
  • Event Production

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a degree?

Bachelor Degree Advantages:

One key advantage of pursuing a degree is that most employers require one when seeking new employees. With a degree:

  • you will have increased job opportunities
  • can earn a higher potential income with a bachelor degree as opposed to a diploma
  • may be offered more networking and travel opportunities
  • will be more likely to be considered for senior roles in the future
  • may have more job benefits such as insurance and retirement
  • will have the opportunity to learn additional critical skills that aren’t included in a diploma program

Having a degree also showcases commitment and perseverance to future employers.

Bachelor Degree Disadvantages:

  • A degree is more expensive than a diploma.
  • A degree takes longer to complete than a diploma.

What’s the Best Option?

“In the end there is no definite right or wrong answer to the question of whether you should study a diploma or a degree. It comes down to what your own goals are for your career, your personal circumstances and the type of future you hope to create for yourself,” said Issey Wilson.

“If anyone would like any further advice on this topic I am happy to answer questions. Our team can be contacted on +61 (2) 9946 1240 or email at [email protected], she said.


Diploma courses are offered at Aspire Institute. 

To read about Aspire Diplomas, click here


Bachelor and Master degrees are offered at ICMS.

To read about degrees offered at ICMS, click here


For more information on the differences between diploma vs degree, click here