What Is The Difference Between Higher Certificate And Diploma

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What Is The Difference Between Higher Certificate And Diploma

What Is The Difference Between Degree Higher Certificate And Diploma

Differentiating between a higher certificate and a Diploma can be a bit tricky, but for you on this post, sit and read carefully as this article has given the necessary explanation for you to be able to identify and to keep you informed about your career. Many are they that always get confused when chossing a qualification in the tertiary level. The career path of your future depends on the qualification you study.

From this post, you will get to know the definitions and the differences between a higher certificate, advanced certificates, Diplomas, degrees, bachelor’s degrees and more.


What Are The Requirements Needed For Higher Certificate Qualification

To achieve a Higher Certificate Pass, the learner should meet the following requirements:

  • The learner must achieve at least 40% for their Home Language subject.
  • The learner must achieve at least 40% in two other subjects excluding Life Orientation.
  • The learner must achieve at least 30% in any other three subjects.
  • The learner can only fail one subject.


What Is The Difference Between Higher Certificate And Diploma

Let’s begin:

Higher Certificate:

Certificates and diplomas are actually quite similar. They both take a shorter time to complete. However, you can finish certificate courses much faster than a diploma course. You could have a certificate in a matter of weeks.

Certificates are focused on industry-specific skills. Employers will therefore often send staff to complete certificate courses. This allows them to gain updated knowledge on how to do their jobs.



A diploma takes longer than a certificate but is shorter than a degree. Diploma courses usually last between one to three years. However, if you decide to study part-time, it can take just as long as studying for a full-time degree.

Diplomas may focus on one subject and often have a practical component. So by the time you graduate, you’ll not only have a qualification, but work experience to go along with it. It can also be much cheaper to study than a degree.



A degree has a much longer study period and is usually studied through a university. There are various levels. The first level is a Bachelor’s degree. This is what is known as an undergraduate programme and can last a minimum of three years.

After successfully completing your undergraduate programme, you can move on to optional postgraduate studies. This is where you’ll do an Honours degree first, then a Master’s and finally a Doctorate (or PhD). These degrees are more research-focused and will require you to write a thesis or dissertation.


What Is The Difference Between Higher Certificate And Diploma

What is a Certificate?

A Certificate usually implies that you have gained a basic level of higher education knowledge and skills. After successful completion of a Certificate course, you will be able to apply your skills in the workplace and improve your overall productivity.

Certificate courses can also be studied for self-enrichment or hobbyist purposes. For example, if you love taking photos in your personal time, you can study a photography course and improve your knowledge and skills.

Duration of study: 6 months to 1 year


What is a Higher Certificate?

Higher Certificate study programmes are predominantly vocational. This means that the course material is industry-oriented. The practical skills you will learn will help you improve your performance in the workplace.

A Higher Certificate will also enable you to build on your education. It will allow you to enrol for an even higher qualification, such as an advanced certificate or diploma course, in the same or related field of study.

Duration of study: Full-time 2 years / Part-time 3 years


What is a National Professional Diploma?

A National Professional Diploma allows under-qualified individuals to upgrade their level of education and get a ‘qualified’ status. For example, if you have studied to become a teacher, but do not have the necessary qualification to teach, you can study a National Professional Diploma in Education to get your full teacher status.

Duration of study: Part-time 2-3 years


What Is The Difference Between Higher Certificate And Diploma

What is a National Diploma?

A National Diploma will equip you with focused knowledge and skills in a particular field. Students who successfully complete a National Diploma course can enrol for a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in the same field of study.

Duration of study:

  • Full-time 3 years / Part-time 4 years
  • Full-time 1 year / Part-time 2 years (if succeeding a National Higher Certificate)


What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

Bachelor’s Degrees are long-term learning programmes that can take three to four years to complete. This qualification enables graduates to illustrate knowledge and competencies required for access to the job market, further education and training, postgraduate studies, or expert practice in a wide range of career fields.

Duration of study: Full-time 3 years / part-time 4-5 years


What is an Advanced Certificate?

An Advanced Certificate course will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of the field you are studying. This level of certification is more specialised and can improve your job opportunities. Advanced Certificate programmes are career-focused, and will prepare you for a specific job role.

Duration of study: Full-time 1 year / Part-time 2 years

What is a Diploma?

A Diploma course provides career-oriented training, with the purpose to prepare you to work efficiently in a particular field. A comprehensive understanding, together with specialised skills, will enable you to apply for various jobs in the area you have studied.

Duration of study: Full-time 1 year / Part-time 2 years.


You have now identified the qualifications linked to your career interests and future planning. The next step is to choose the qualification(s) for which you want to apply. This will enable Unisa to evaluate your application and advise you of the outcome. Visit The Official Website Of Unisa For More Detsails.


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