What is a Diploma Equivalent to?

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When it comes to less traditional forms of education, such as diplomas, it can be difficult to find out all the important information about these qualifications. When it comes to learning about qualifications, such as diplomas, one of the most important things to know about them is how they match up to other qualifications. This is to give you a better idea of what these qualifications are worth and how they compare to others.

Regardless of whether you are studying a diploma yourself, you’re considering your next study options or you’re simply interested. In this article, you’ll learn exactly what you need to about how diplomas compare to other qualifications.

In the UK, you can study a diploma at every qualification level. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this ranges from entry level to level 8 and in Scotland this is from level 1 to level 12. Therefore, a diploma can be equivalent to a wide range of different qualifications. This ranges from entry level/ level 1 qualifications, such as Skills for Life qualifications and the Scottish National 1 qualifications to the most advanced qualifications in the UK at level 8/ level 12 with doctorate degrees, including PhDs.

Continue reading to learn more about the qualifications that diplomas are equivalent to. This article will take you through these in greater detail and to get answers to common questions surrounding equivalent qualifications to diplomas.

What is a diploma UK?

For us to properly be able to explore what a diploma is equivalent to, we first need to look at what a diploma actually is.

In the UK, a diploma is a type of qualification that qualifies you to work in a specific field. This covers a range of different subject areas from business to computing and many more.

While it does act as direct training and gives you a certificate to prove that you can go into a specific field, completing a diploma still gives you the option to progress into continuing your education.

A diploma isn’t actually one qualification and instead encompasses a range of different qualifications at a range of different levels. These go through all the qualifications in the UK, from entry level to level 8.

You can learn more about what a diploma actually is by checking out this Think Student article.

What is a diploma equivalent to UK?

Now that we’ve seen what a diploma is, we can finally get down to comparing it to other qualifications and seeing which ones it is equivalent to. As previously mentioned, a diploma can come in all of the different qualification levels in the UK.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this ranges from entry level to level 8. Whereas in Scotland, this ranges from level 1 to level 12. You can learn more about all the different qualification levels in the UK by checking out this Think Student article.

Look at the following table, which will take you through the levels and give you some examples of diplomas and of equivalent qualifications for each of these.

Qualification level Types of diplomas Examples of equivalent qualifications
Entry level (levels 1-3 in Scotland) Entry level diploma National 1- National 3 qualifications

Skills for Life qualifications

Entry level ESOL qualifications

Entry level functional skills qualifications

Level 1 (level 4 in Scotland) Level 1 diploma National 4 qualifications

Level 1 NVQs/ level 4 SVQs

Level 1 BTECs

Level 1 functional skills qualifications

Level 1 ESOL qualifications

Cambridge Nationals (level 1 grades)

Level 2 (level 5 in Scotland) Level 2 diploma

Level 2 national diploma

GCSEs

National 5 qualifications

Intermediate apprenticeships

Level 2 BTECs

Level 2 NVQs/ Level 5 SVQs

Level 2 functional skills qualifications

Cambridge Nationals (level 2 grades)

Level 3 (levels 6- 7 in Scotland) Level 3 diploma

Level 3 national diploma

Access to higher education diploma

A-Levels

Highers

Advanced Highers

EPQs

AS-Levels

BTEC Nationals

Advanced apprenticeships

T-Levels

International Baccalaureate

Cambridge Technicals

Level 4 (levels 7- 8 in Scotland) Level 4 diploma Certificate of higher education (CertHE)

Higher national certificate (HNC)

Higher apprenticeships

Level 4 NVQs/ Level 7 or 8 SVQs

Level 5 (level 9 in Scotland) Diploma of higher education (DipHE)

Higher national diploma (HND)

Level 5 diploma

Foundation degree

Level 5 NVQ/ Level 9 SVQ

Level 5 certificate

Level 5 award

Level 5 BTEC

Level 6 (level 10 in Scotland) Graduate diploma

Level 6 diploma

Bachelor’s degree

Degree apprenticeship

Graduate certificate

Level 6 NVQ/ /level 10 SVQ

Level 7 (level 11 in Scotland)

Postgraduate diploma (PGDip)

Level 7 diploma

Master’s degree

Integrated master’s degree

Degree apprenticeship

Postgraduate certificate (PGCert)

Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)

Level 8 (level 12 in Scotland) Level 8 diploma PhD

Doctorate degree

Professional apprenticeship

You can learn more about these types of diploma and alternative qualifications by checking out this Think Student article. You can see even more examples by also having a look at this page on the government website.

Is a diploma equivalent to a degree?

When hearing about these 2 qualifications, people can often get a diploma mixed up with a degree. This is especially if at times these words are being used in similar contexts so it can get confusing to know how they differ.

In the UK, a full degree can be between level 6 and level 8, which encompasses different types of degrees, such as a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate degree. You can learn more about this by checking out this Think Student article.

At these levels, we’ve already established that there are different kinds of diploma that students can take instead of doing degrees. As they are at the same level, yes, these diplomas are equivalent to a degree.

Look at the following table to zone in on which kinds of diploma are equivalent to degrees as seen above.

Degree type Qualification level Type of diplomas
Bachelor’s degree 6/ 10 ·         Graduate diploma

·         Level 6 diploma

Master’s degree 7/ 11 ·         Postgraduate diploma

·         Level 7 diploma

Doctorate degree 8/ 12 ·         Level 8 diploma

In this article, we’ve already seen that a degree encompasses a wide range of different qualifications at a wide range of different levels. This naturally means that while there are some types of diplomas that are equivalent to degrees, diplomas, as a whole, aren’t as they are much more than that.

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