Graduate diploma

A graduate diploma (GradD, GDip, GrDip, GradDip) is generally a qualification taken after completion of a first degree, although the level of study varies in different countries from being at the same level as the final year of a bachelor's degree to being at a level between a master's degree and a doctorate. In some countries the graduate diploma and postgraduate diploma are synonymous, while in others (particularly where the graduate diploma is at undergraduate degree level) the postgraduate diploma is a higher qualification.


Graduate diplomas offered in Canada (French: Diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées),[1] are typically taken following a bachelor's degree and a successful award allows progression to a master's degree. Depending on the institution, a graduate diploma in Canada may be at graduate level or bachelor's level.[2][3] Similar courses at other Canadian institutions may be termed postgraduate diplomas at graduate level and post-baccalaureate diploma at bachelor's level.


Graduate diplomas offered in Australia are typical of those offered in England, Wales, and Ireland. The diploma is normally taken following a bachelor's degree, and a successful award allows progression to a master's degree without having received honours with the bachelor's degree. The qualification is at level 8 of the Australian Qualifications Framework, the same as an honours degree.[4]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, a graduate diploma is an "advanced undergraduate" qualification normally completed after a bachelor's degree or done at the same time of the bachelors study, and may be used to prove the student's ability to undertake postgraduate studies.[5] A graduate diploma (e.g., Graduate Diploma in Education etc.) is different from a postgraduate diploma, which is a course of study at postgraduate level (e.g., Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology etc.).


In the UK, a graduate diploma is a short course at the level of a bachelor's degree that is normally studied by students who have already graduated in another field. Graduate diplomas are distinguished from graduate certificates by having a longer period of study, equivalent to two thirds of an academic year or more.[6]

Graduate diplomas should not be confused with a postgraduate diploma, which is a master's degree-level qualification. Historically, this has not always been the case, with postgraduate diploma and graduate diploma used interchangeably, but the Quality Assurance Agency now makes a clear distinction between these titles.[7] Some institutions have renamed courses as a result, e.g. The College of Law renamed the official title for its law conversion course from Postgraduate Diploma in Law to Graduate Diploma in Law as, although the law conversion course is studied postgraduately, the contents of the course are only undergraduate in nature.


The graduate diploma or higher diploma in the Republic of Ireland is an award at the same level as an honours bachelor's degree. It comprises one year of full-time study and is taken after, and in a different subject from, an earlier bachelor's degree.[8] A wide variety of courses are offered; it is also possible to progress to a master's degree.

The diploma is generally in two forms:

The graduate diploma (GradDip) is offered by the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, HETAC and the University of Limerick. The higher diploma (HDip) is offered by HETAC, NUI institutions, and Trinity College, Dublin.


In India postgraduate diploma, is a master's degree-level qualification which usually is a 1 yr advanced program. Certain institutes provide master's level programs with increased number lower credit courses for 2 years, such courses are also called postgraduate diploma. At times for transnational equivalency the same is casually noted as Graduate diplomas. Advanced diplomas provided are equivalent to a post-baccalaureate diploma, this is an eight month to one year course.


The graduate diploma is an academic or vocational qualification; as an academic qualification it is often taken after a bachelor's degree although sometimes only a foundation degree is required. It is usually awarded by a university or a graduate school and usually takes 2 terms of study to complete. It is also possible for academic graduate diploma holders to progress to a master's degree on an accelerated pathway compared to first embarking on a 3- or 4-year degree program. To ensure that the graduate diploma qualification is recognised, the awarding body must be registered with the Singapore Ministry of Education.

The graduate diploma is generally a professional conversion qualification to reskill a graduate with new specialised skills, for instance the GDipPsy - Graduate Diploma in Psychology is aimed at offering specialised skills in psychology. See also postgraduate diploma.

The graduate diploma is offered at different levels by different institutions. The National University of Singapore requires study at master's level,[9] but the graduate diplomas at SIM University are UK (i.e. bachelor's-level) graduate diplomas awarded by the University of London[10] and similarly the Ngee Ann - Adelaide Education Centre offers Australian graduate diplomas (i.e. Australian honours degree level) awarded by the University of Adelaide.[11] The Graduate Diploma of Singapore Raffles Music College is a post-foundation degree qualification rather than post-bachelor's.[12] Graduate diplomas from Aventis School of Management are six month part-time courses at an undefined level, although the School also offers postgraduate diplomas.[13][14]

The WSQ Graduate Diploma is the highest qualification in Singapore's vocational Workforce Skills Qualifications framework, administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency.[15] This is not tied to the levels of academic degrees.


Graduate Diplomas (in Danish: HD) are two-year full-time-equivalent programmes at bachelor's degree level, normally studied as four-year part-time courses. They are studied in business-related fields such as Business Administration and Innovation Management. Programs are normally split into Part 1 (graduate certificate) and Part 2 (graduate diploma), each being 60 ECTS Credits (one year of full-time-equivalent study). [16][17][18]

United States

In the US, graduate diplomas are "Intermediate Graduate Qualifications" involving study beyond master's level but not reaching PhD level. They are generally found in professional, rather than academic, fields. Other qualifications at this level include advanced graduate certificates, specialist certificates and specialist degrees.[19]


The graduate diploma forms part of the lifelong education pathway on the Malaysian Qualifications Framework. They are qualifications at the level of a bachelor's degree but with half of the credit value.[20]


  1. "Specialized Graduate Diplomas (DESS)". HEC Montréal. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  2. "Graduate Diploma Programs". *Simon Fraser University. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  3. "Computer Science (GrDip)". Concordia University. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  4. "Australian Qualifications Framework 2nd edition" (PDF). January 2013. p. 16.
  5. "Graduate Diploma". New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  6. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 36, retrieved 2016-06-05, Graduate diplomas and certificates are at the same level (6 on the FHEQ/SCQF level 10 on the FQHEIS) but are differentiated from each other by volume of study and learning outcomes. The title 'certificate' normally signifies learning outcomes which would imply study equivalent to at least one-third of a full-time academic year, and the title 'diploma' normally signifies study equivalent to at least two-thirds of a full-time academic year at the relevant level (and/or, where credit is awarded, the volume of credit specified by the relevant credit framework).
  7. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (October 2015), The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF), p. 35, retrieved 2016-06-05, titles with the stem 'graduate' (for example, 'graduate diploma') are used for qualifications from programmes of study that typically require graduate entry, or its equivalent, and have learning outcomes that match relevant parts of the descriptor for a qualification at level 6 on the FHEQ or SCQF levels 9 or 10 on the FQHEIS
  8. "Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)". Quality and Qualifications Ireland. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  9. "Graduate Degree Requirements". National University of Singapore. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  10. "Programmes". SIM University. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  11. "Graduate Diploma in Computer Science". Ngee Ann - Adelaide Education Centre. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  12. "Graduate Diploma In Professional Artist". Singapore Raffles Music College. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  13. "Graduate Diploma in Training & Development". Aventis School of Management. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  14. "Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration". Aventis School of Management. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  15. "About WSQ". Singapore Workforce Development Agency. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  16. "Graduate Diploma in Business Administration". University of Southern Denmark. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  17. "Graduate Diploma in Business Administration". Copenhagen Business School. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  18. "Graduate Diploma (HD) in Innovation Management". Copenhagen Business School. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  19. "Structure of the U.S. Education System: Intermediate Graduate Qualifications". U.S. Department of Education. February 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  20. "Malaysian Qualifications Framework". Malaysian Qualifications Agency. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
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