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Important Things to Know About Higher National Diploma (HND)

This article contains information about the important Things You Need To Know About Higher National Diploma (HND)

HND is an abbreviation for Higher National Diploma which is a level 5 qualification. It differs from a Bachelor’s Degree as it is a more practicable course. In other words, it places much emphasis on coursework as well as applying the content studied into practice unlike a BSC which is more theoretical with high emphasis on piles of exams at the end of the academic year.

Higher National Diploma

Oftentimes, many students look down on this program because there is a misconception that individuals with this qualification are not well recognized and highly paid in organizations but the fact still remains that it’s a good place to start off higher education because it is practically inclined.

An HND is equivalent to the second year of a Bachelor’s degree. It therefore takes two years of full-time study to be completed and three to four years on a part time basis. HND is designed to equip you with relevant skills in your chosen career. Thus, those desirous to enter practical industries such as Health, Engineering or even Agriculture may benefit more by starting out with this degree.

HND is basically a vocational qualification that is acquired in a moderately short period of time. It is more skill focused and practice-based.

In recent times, employers look out for candidates with practical skills rather than the theoretically inclined as it is peculiar to B.Sc. degrees.


The interesting thing is that HND is not meant for a specific set of people neither is there an age limit.

Anyone can apply depending on entry requirements which may slightly vary from one Institution to another. HND provides a beautiful opportunity for individuals who prefer what is known as “Learning and doing”, that, the system of learning that is most effective through practicals. Again, depending on your career part, HND offers a direct route into that industry.

With this in mind, anybody under the following category is qualified for HND:

  • School Leavers
  • Already employed individuals who are desirous to improve their career prospects
  • Individuals who are business minded and wish to start up.
  • Mature students returning to education.


Unlike in Bachelor’s degree with a handful of courses, courses in Higher National Diplomas are vocational courses that can be studied in a wide range of subjects. HND courses include the following:

  • Health and Social Care
  • Healthcare Management
  • Hospitality Management
  • Business Accounting and Finance
  • Business Marketing

Each of these courses has been developed with the assistance and guidance of teachers, industry experts, and employers who are working as a team to ensure the course content covers particular industry demands. Thus shows that National Diploma qualification prepares students for the professional implementation of the practical skills they have studied.


The duration of completion is dependent on the individual in question. HND courses generally are completed in two years on a full time basis and 3-4 years on a part time basis. So, if you have other engagements, you can opt to enroll for a part time. This means that you will still have time for other things.


Like other higher education programs, HND also has entry requirements that must be met by the applicant. It includes any of the following:

  • GCSE passes with grades A to C which must include English Language, and either a minimum of one A Level with grades A to E, a BTEC Level 3 Certificate or a Diploma.
  • Two or more years of work experience at any Administrative role relevant to the programme being applied for. This must be made proved through a personal statement, work experience for, supported by employment references showing the duration of employment and position held.


A lot of people are worried regarding what they can do with HND in a society where more emphasis and attention is given to individuals with qualifications higher than an HND. As a person with this qualification or intending to get one, be rest assured that having an HND certification isn’t irrelevant as implied by many.

Having an HND presents one with beautiful opportunities. Upon successful completion, there are many options available to you. They include

  • Continuing higher education through a degree or a professional qualification
  • Going into full-time work.

Upgrading To a Full-fledged Degree

Once you have completed your HND qualification, you may wish to continue with your studies as part of career advancement plans. Many students who do not have the patients to spend 4years straight for a degree program usually opt for this. All that is required is an additional year because HND is equivalent to year two in a University. This implies that you will be admitted straight to 200 level of your degree course. At the end of the course, you will gain a Bachelor’s Degree with Honours.

Nowadays, it has become a popular choice among HND graduates to top-up their HND into a degree. This recent trend has also left a lot of individuals who intend to further with numerous questions.

The most common question usually comes from those who do not know if it’s possible to enroll for a degree in a different subject from that of the HND.

So, to answer that question, going for a course quite different from that of the HAND is almost impossible. In fact, it’s a “NO”. It is impossible for a person who took an Agricultural business related course in Bachelor’s degree if the intention is to top up to B.Sc. using HND.

This is because at each stage of a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll be exposed to crucial knowledge that will prepare you to learn more advanced concepts in subsequent years. Therefore, in order to cope and qualify for a top up, the University usually ensures you’re continuing with the same line of course as that of the HND. There is room for flexibility if the University is convinced beyond reasonable doubts.

Except that, going for a completely different course will mean starting your Bachelor’s degree from the beginning.


Many times, it is not everyone who is capable or desirous to continue with higher studies.

Therefore, if you don’t want to continue to higher education after completion of your HND, there is nothing to worry about. HND itself is a notable qualification that can provide employment opportunities which will certainly increase your earning potential especially in the future.

You can directly choose to get into your preferred career depending on the requirements and demands of the potential employers.

The astonishing fact is that having an HND qualification has the ability of making an applicant with such qualification to stand out during interviews as you can tell more about your practical skills and experience. You can never go wrong doing this  as employers value real-world experience.


In your decision making, chances are you may consider the advantages and disadvantages of having an HND as opposed to a BSc. While I don’t want to make it look as though this is irrelevant, I must have to accept that in the real sense, having an HND has both the good and limiting sides.

With this, some of the advantages and possible disadvantages are outlined below.

Advantages of Studying A HND:

  • Since HND offers a direct entry into your career, the said qualification enables you to acquire a reasonable amount of valuable skills, expertise and understanding which is required for your career path.
  • With HND, you will be able to advance in your degree and gain a complete Level 6 qualification within a short period of time, usually one year.
  • Unlike in other forms of higher education that is known to stress students with heaps of tests, irrelevant assignments and exams, HND tends to be assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks.

These are the major advantages.

Disadvantages of Studying A HND:

  • HND is described as being role-specific in comparison to full degrees where the learning is more diversified.
  • Career wise, there are limitations to the position a person with an HND can occupy. This reason is why many people are of the opinion that HND is less recognized unlike the B.Sc.


Before now, the preference of one qualification over the other has raised numerous reactions. There were numerous questions as to why those with qualifications such as HND are considered last in the course of employment. This development however made a lot of people with HND qualification to always believe that their qualification can only get them blue collar jobs.

In recent years, HND courses have grown and are in high demand by employers. This is because of the focus on practical skills that HND qualifications offer which is aimed at providing students with the tools they require for excellent performance in their preferred field.

However, Employers are constantly looking for graduates with these skills and are also willing to pay adequate for their services. This has however changed the impression people had about having an HND.

So, if you’re one of those with this qualification, don’t be too hard on yourself. There is also an opportunity for you to secure a well-paying job that will afford you the kind of life you deserve. However, if you’re an education fanatic and one who is enthusiastic about career advancement, furthering and topping up to B.Sc. will be the best bet because the fact still remains that some company policies only permit people with higher qualification to occupy certain positions which of course attracts higher pay.

As a result of such policies, regardless of your level of expertise on the job, you may never be allowed to occupy such positions with an HND.

If all you can afford is an HND, run with that and be confident about it. If you can afford to upgrade to a BSc, then, kudos to you. When you do this, better and higher opportunities will come your way. Remember, with an HND, you will be starting from the second year for your degree program which will only take a short duration of one year to be completed.

I want to believe this article has exposed you to some useful information in this regard.

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