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Differences Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate

The education system in many countries around the world is organized in various levels that one has to pass through before deemed a scholar. It is worth noting that for one to move to the next level, you have to satisfy the assessment criteria of the level below. Some of the levels in educations systems include primary/grade, secondary (junior and senior), college, and university. Undergraduate and postgraduate levels are studied at the university level.

Differences Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate

  • What is Undergraduate Study?

An undergraduate degree is the first degree that one pursues after joining the university system. It is focused on providing the foundation of a specific area of study while at the same time preparing the student to handle the content of that subject at an advanced level. Example of an undergraduate degree is an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Commerce among other disciplines.


  • What is Postgraduate Study?

Postgraduate study is pursued by somebody who has pursued and completed a degree which is certified by the various body that provides scrutiny to the degrees offered in the universities such as the commission for higher education or higher education regulation committee. Additionally, some who have a specific work experience can be allowed to pursue a postgraduate study in the area of specialization. Some of the postgraduate courses include Graduate Diploma, Master, and Ph.D.

Differences Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate

  1. Specialization in Undergraduate vs Postgraduate

One of the main difference between an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate is the level of specialization. At the undergraduate level, a student is allowed to select different modules, which are not the same, but they are highly related. For example, a student can be allowed to select finance and accounting modules. This is not the same for the postgraduates. Students at this level are allowed to select modules that have a high level of similarity. One can only select the module that complements one another. There is no much degree of diversion in the postgraduate study because it is geared towards ensuring that students have detailed information of a certain filed.

  1. Contact Time in Undergraduate vs Postgraduate

Different opinions have been aired about how much time one is supposed to spend in the postgraduate study because many people have been spending much time before they qualify. This is because there is no definite time set for a postgraduate study to complete as one can study the modules he or she wants within the time the student specifies. It is even possible to find a student spending more than six years in the postgraduate study or even more. Surprisingly, a student can take one year to qualify for a postgraduate certificate. However, there is a definite time set for one to qualify an undergraduate degree. The time to complete an undergraduate degree varies between three and four years. Nevertheless, unforeseen circumstances may allow one to take more time.

  1. Financing for Undergraduate vs Postgraduate

Although both undergraduate and postgraduate studies are expensive to pursue and they require adequate resources, postgraduate study can be said to be much more expensive as compared to the undergraduate research. Postgraduate study tuition fees are very high as compared to the undergraduate research. The other area that renders graduate study to be much more expensive than the undergraduate study is the dissertation part. Students pursuing postgraduate study are required to conduct a primary research study that takes much time and resources. Although undergraduate students do fundamental research, it is not as detailed as compared to the postgraduate one. Moreover, government subsidies are much higher at the undergraduate level as compared to graduate level hence making it cheap.

  1. Facilitators Teaching Methods for Undergraduate vs Postgraduate

Although in both undergraduate and postgraduate qualified personnel do lecturing, the graduate level is administered by lecturers who are highly skilled and who have expansive experience in their area of jurisdiction. Lecturers at postgraduate degrees are professionals who have conducted various research studies and have several articles that are published in scholarly journals, which are used for academic reference and citation around the educational field. Most of the time, teaching at this level entails research and critical analysis of previously done research studies to find weaknesses or disapprove specific theories and models. At scientific disciplines, studies at this level involve reinforcing or improving the frameworks that have already been developed to ensure that they are more effective and efficient.

  1. Collaboration in Undergraduate vs Postgraduate

Students at undergraduate study do not have a high level of cooperation with their supervisors and only access the help of their tutors who are attached to various classes to ensure that students can familiarize themselves with what has been taught by a particular professor. Training at this level entails giving instructions and assessment tests while at the same time ensuring that students are conversant with the modules they are pursuing. On the other hand, postgraduate studies entail a higher-level collaboration between the students and their supervisors. Students at doctoral levels are encouraged to interact with their supervisors as their peers so that they can offer guidance and specific instructions to help the students if they feel stuck in a particular section. Moreover, students do not only interact with professionals within the academic context but also those outside the academic fields.

Summary of Differences Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate Studies:

Differences Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate-1

Comparison Table

Undergraduate Postgraduate
Less Specialized Highly Specialized
Definite Contact Time Varying Contact Time
Moderately Cheap Expensive
Theoretical Practical and Research-Based
Low Collaboration High Interactions and Collaboration


  • It is clear that there exists a significant difference between the two levels of learning despite them being offered at the university levels.
  • Moreover, some of the differences highlighted are negligible, but they make sense in general terms. For example, financing is a contentious issue when it comes to tertiary education, but the government has been offering subsidies to allow the students to achieve their academic goals.
  • Nevertheless, undergraduate and postgraduate are very similar such that they are all geared towards enhancing students with skills and knowledge so that they can be useful men and women in the society.

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References :

[0]All About Careers. "What’s The Difference Between Undergraduate & Postgraduate Study?" (2017). .

[1]All About Careers. "What’s The Difference Between Undergraduate & Postgraduate Study?" (2017). .

[2]GraduateLand. "The difference between undergraduate and postgraduate studies." (2015). .

[3]Coventry University. "6 Differences Between Undergraduate And Postgraduate Degrees." (2017). .

[4]"Image Credit: http://www.aetc.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2001011294/"

[5]"Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/monashuni/8229010374/"

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