Home Student & Career Tips Difference Between a Diploma and Degree in Engineering

Difference Between a Diploma and Degree in Engineering

This article contains the information on the Difference Between a Diploma in Engineering and Degree in Engineering.

One of the dilemmas engineering students face and have been facing for some time is that of choosing between going for a diploma or a degree in engineering. This mainly comes up after they are done or almost done with their intermediate studies. Looking at the choice to be made, it could be quite tricky. Well, no pressure because we’ll be guiding you in everything you need to make a good choice. It doesn’t matter which side you lean towards, you would surely be making the best decision for yourself. Let’s get started, shall we?

It is no secret that engineering is not a walk in the park. It stands as one of the most complex courses so far but guess what? It is totally worth it. An engineering career can guarantee you a huge financial security with the high paying jobs. As a professional course, you also get to explore your personal inventions and change the world. There is no limit to what you can explore with an engineering qualification. So, we understand why people feel a certain pressure to get it right.

There are two basic qualifications that most engineers are faced to choose between: diplomas or degrees. While there are a few people who just go for both, not everyone is willing to take that step. So, when you are considering which to choose. Here’s what you need to know about your options:

  • Whichever choice you go with riddles with intensive engineering mathematics and practicality.
  • Both make you skilled and qualified to work in both the engineering field and other professions like finance, business and
  • Both choices come with different You just have to know which is best suited for you.

Engineering Degrees Vs Diplomas

As stated earlier, there is a difference between these two engineering qualifications. However, you would need a strong background in science and mathematics to get enrolled in any of the engineering programmes. While these two are good engineering qualifications, you need to know what sets them apart.

1.  Entrance/ Qualifications Requirements

To apply for an engineering degree, you would need a matriculation certificate. This is different from the diploma where you don’t need one. A lot of students who do not possess a traditional matrix certificate tend to opt for the diploma for this reason. With an N3 or a technical certificate, you can get qualified for a diploma programme. There are three engineering certificates that are known as bridging certificates. These are the N1, N2 and the N3. These qualifications come in serial order. You would have to complete the N1 before you can get an N2, after which you can then qualify for taking an N3. To get an N1, you would require a grade 9 with maths and science. To spell it out, here is a clear list of what you need to qualify for each programme:

 Engineering Degree

  • Grade 12 National Senior Certificate
  • Distinction in Pure Mathematics
  • Distinction in Physical Sciences
  • Credit in Mathematics

 Engineering Diploma

  • N3 level certificate in Engineering or,
  • Grade 12 National Senior Certificate
  • Pure Mathematics

From this, it is clear that qualifying for a diploma is significantly easier than qualifying for a degree. If you can’t meet up with the documentation for the degree programme, a diploma would be a good option.

2.  Study Duration

Getting a degree in engineering takes about four to five years to complete. This depends on the intensity of the engineering programme you are enrolling for. A diploma, on the other hand, takes about tie years to complete for full-time students. Part-time studies take three years to complete. This is not the end for a diploma qualification as you would be required to have 2-year service training to become a fully certified engineer. When you round it up, both qualifications take roughly the same time to complete. Nonetheless, if you are concerned about time, taking a full-time diploma course could save you an extra year.

3.  Nature of Study

For engineering degrees, you would have to face more theoretical learning than practical. This should not discourage you as there is substantial practicality in the programme. Still, the engineering diplomas focus more on practical learning than the theoretical aspect. Studying in an engineering diploma programme focuses more on finessing your skills. A lot of arguments have risen about which firm of learning makes one more equipped for the fieldwork. While practices give a real-life experience, we cannot totally shut down on the benefits of theoretical knowledge. While practicals make you specialists in specific fields, theories give you the knowledge to expand and be inventive. With both degrees, you can qualify for a wide range of engineering professions like chemical, electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering. They give you an edge in a very competitive field like engineering. After the diploma or degree, you can also move further for a BTech degree.

You just have to make a choice between the form of learning that works best for you.

4.  Level of Qualification

It is vital that we talk about the qualifications you get from these programs. In the educational system, there are ranking in qualifications and it is only fair that you know where both degrees stand.

Engineering Qualification Levels

  1. N1 (National Technical Certificate Level 1)-Grade 9
  2. N2 (National Technical Certificate Level 2)-Grade 10
  3. N3 (National Technical Certificate Level 3)-Grade 11
  4. N4 (National  Technical  Certificate  Level  4)-Grade  12  and  National  Senior Certificate
  5. Advanced Technical Certificates
  6. Diploma
  7. Bachelor’s Degree
  8. Honorary Degree
  9. Master’s Degree
  10. Doctorate

From this qualification ranking, it is clear that that bachelor’s degree is higher in ranking than the diploma. This means that a degree holder may have more footing in the engineering profession than a diploma holder. However, with a furthered degree in BTech, you would gain an upper hand. These are the factors you may want to consider before making a choice.

5.  Employment Opportunities

We’ll make it as clear as possible. Higher qualifications compete better than lower qualifications in the workforce. To work as a professional engineer in a top-level company and at a high level, you would require a degree as opposed to a diploma. But, with a diploma, you get a more competitive advantage in specialized engineering fields. This is because there is a need for more practical experience than the theory when applying. So, whether you opt for a diploma or a degree, there are numerous high paying opportunities available.

We also need to take into consideration the people who are in the study for their self-employed professional gain. You would not need to look at the employment opportunities or the qualification level. All you have to consider is the best program to well-quip you with the right knowledge to change the world through tech.

6.  Discipline

Both the diploma and bachelor’s degree offer a wide range of engineering disciplines. That said, there are some disciplines that can only be gotten in a university and the same goes for some exclusive diploma disciplines. These disciplines are only but a few but your choice of discipline would guide your qualification choice.

7.  Place of Study

Most universities offer a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering. A diploma, on the other hand, is offered in tertiary institutions but not in all universities. You can read up on the top universities to get an engineering degree or check out the tertiary institutions offering engineering diploma in the US.

8.  Cost of Study

Cost of studying Engineering

Cost is another factor you have to consider when looking at getting a degree or a diploma. Tertiary education is very expensive and not everybody can afford it. If you are looking to cut costs, a diploma would be cheaper because it takes a shorter period to complete. Besides this, a degree is relatively more expensive than getting a degree, although, this depends on the institution offering the programme.

It is also safe to note that there are options for getting a diploma in part-time. This means that you would be able to work while getting a diploma. You would need to weigh your cost options before making a decision.

Now that we have highlighted the differences between these two engineering qualifications, it wouldn’t be hard for you to draw up a pros and cons list. This would aid your decision-making process. If you’re still having problems, we found this source that could help you spell it out.

Bottom Line

Getting an engineering degree is very challenging but rewarding. This is why you must take time in choosing the right program for you. There is no one-word answer for a choice between getting a degree or a diploma. This is why we have spelt out the differences for you. You have to consider the cost, requirements, mode of teaching, opportunities available, freedom to study with a part-time job, and others. For some people, it may be an easy choice while it may be harder for some others. Whatever category you belong to, there is no wrong choice. No qualification is better than the other, regardless of their placement in the ranking system. All that matters is what you make if it.


(N.d.). Indeed.com. Retrieved December 9, 2023, from https://ca.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/diploma-vs-degree

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  1. absolutely, nice knowledge but with video translations it would be more easier to understand the difference..
    and it would be more efficient in understandable manner
    as reading is more time consuming process…
    thats it.


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