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About Certificates and Diplomas

Certificates usually consist of technical or vocational courses that help you develop career competency in a specific field or subject. To earn a certificate, you are expected to successfully complete between three to twelve courses, all of which are taken within a year to a year-and-a-half of continuous study. Students often pursue certificates to advance in the professional field of their choosing.

Certificates are also offered in various more in-depth academic programs that leading to degrees. For example, there are certificates in business, literature and technical fields. If you already have a college degree but want to expand or update your skills, a certificate program is a great way to do so.

What is a Diploma?

Diplomas are similar to certificates, and they are usually earned through attending and completing courses at a community college, technical school, or even onsite at certain professional locales. Diplomas can consist of varied numbers of courses, all of which are completed in around one and half to two years. For example, a diploma of nursing is offered as an alternative to an associate's degree or bachelor's degree. The nursing diploma program is only offered at hospitals with specialty programs that provide training. Earning a certificate or diploma makes sense in the following scenarios:

  • You already have a degree but want a new career not related to that degree
  • You need to meet state or national licensing requirements
  • You have no college degree but your goal is to acquire skills as quickly as possible to launch a new career