What is the Difference Between a Diploma and a Certificate?

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What is the difference between a diploma and a certificate?

Education has three tiers, elementary, secondary and post secondary.  Post secondary schooling is provided by both private and public institutions.  They have been given the authority to grant academic credentials by their provincial or territorial governments.

If you are going to attend post-secondary education you will be receiving a diploma or certificate at the end of your program of study.

Diplomas are primarily offered by Universities.  They usually require a minimum of two years of study that has been approved by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities.

Certificate Programs are often offered by Colleges and technical institutes.  The programs tend to be shorter and more intensive.  They often provide smaller class sizes and hands on learning experience.

Depending on your chosen career you may be required to get a University degree.  University degrees are offered at three successive levels – bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral.  Most times you must complete the lower level before being granted permission into the next.

Bachelor’s degree Normally require three or four years of full-time study
Master’s degree Normally requires two years of study after completion of either a general or an honors’ Bachelor’s degree.
Doctoral degree Usually requires a minimum of three years of study and research, including the completion of a dissertation.  The degree is generally known as a PhD. 

When choosing your post-secondary education path there are many factors to think about.  Considering answering the following questions:   

–       What interests you?  What current skills do you have that you can expand on?

–       What is the type of training or level of education required by the industry to work in my field of interest?  Will I need a degree?  A diploma?  Or a specialized training program that will provide me with a certificate and wallet cards?

–       Are there employment opportunities in my chosen field?

–       What type of learner am I?  Am I a hands-on-learner?

–       What type of environment do I learn best in?  A large group environment or in a smaller move individualized setting?

–       What time frame am I looking at?  How much money can I invest in my education?

–      Will the educational training I have chosen meet the credentials of the industry?   What are employers looking for?

The Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities web site offers information to help you make decisions regarding your post-secondary education.  The site offers information regarding jobs, job search skills, education options as well as funding options.

Post Secondary Education is an exciting adventure.  Whether it is a diploma or a certificate you are looking for there are many options to choose from.

There are also more than 500 registered Ontario career colleges in Ontario.  They offer specialized training with programs that are shorter in duration.  They offer certificates, diplomas and wallet cards in a wide variety of areas.  “By law, Onario career colleges must be registered and must have their programs approved by the Superintendent of Ontario Career Colleges”, Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.



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