Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Certificate and Diploma

certificateCertificate vs Diploma
We often hear about certificate courses and diploma courses. Many use both the terms interchangeably. But in fact, a certificate is different from a diploma.

A diploma is a document issued at the completion of a course by an educational institution, which states that the recipient successfully completed the study. Diplomas also can confer an academic degree to the recipient. On the other hand, certificate is a broader term. It can refer to documents in different realms of the day to day life like a birth certificate, degree certificate, marriage certificate, and even a certificate of appreciation. So a certificate is an official document which affirms a fact. In educational domain, certificates can be given when a student passes an exam, wins a prize, or even completes a course. It just certifies that something being stated in the certificate is done.

In some countries, a diploma is known by the term Testimonium and is a level of an academic award. When you say that you have received your PhD diploma, it actually means that you have completed your PhD and have a document to certify that. And the document that certifies your course completion can be a certificate from the university or educational institution.

When we speak of diploma courses and certificate courses, the meanings can be a bit different. A Certificate course is usually of shorter duration, probably a couple of months. After that you get a certificate stating the completion of the course. You can do certificate courses in driving, first aid, web designing, etc. A diploma course is more in duration. It can range up from months to years. A diploma will be awarded to you after the completion of the course with the specified grades or percentage of marks. Another difference between the two is that certificate courses need not necessarily be related to school or graduation requirements. It can be in any domain and shows that the recipient has mastered a skill.

Certificates can be used to recognize achievements in many criteria even at the academic level. For example, certificate of 100% attendance, secondary school completion certificate, and a graduating certificate. But a diploma cannot be awarded in these cases. Diploma is more of a course completion. By now you must have understood that certificates can be given for diplomas, but not vice versa.

Sometimes, apart from certifying a pass, a certificate can be the name of an award also. At times it also certifies a qualification as such like Higher School Certificate and Victorian Certificate of Education.

1. Certificates can be in any domains like birth certificate, marriage certificate, but diplomas strictly refer to the academic domain.
2. Diploma is often awarded to students who complete their high school or graduation while certificates can be given for mastering any skills, not necessarily academic.
3. Diploma courses are longer in duration than certificate courses.

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  1. Dear your article is very nice and very informative but one more thing i like to know about authority of issuing Certificate or Diploma. I mean who can issue Certificate or Diploma? Is it true that personal institute can only provide a Certificate and Diploma can be provided by any Government institute. Or to issue Diploma one need any type of higher registration etc.?

  2. Enlightening the world, one helpful atilrce at a time.

  3. i have completed Diploma of Electrical Engineering in 2015. My college gave me a certificate of a diploma. so when filling out some forms or when question like ” Degree, Diploma or Certificate Received” is asked, can i write ‘diploma certificate’?

  4. this is a very vivid illustrations showing the differences diploma and certificate

  5. After I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any approach you’ll be able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

  6. Is it necessary to do diploma course before any certified course in teaching field?

  7. I love this post!
    I read your blog fairly often and you are always coming out with some great stuff


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