What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma

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These days, a lot of students wish to further their studies after graduation. For those asking what graduate program is best, you can consider a Postgraduate Diploma as it is one of the many different available options.
You may also have asked what level is a postgraduate diploma. We’ll clarify you on this.
But first…

What is a Postgraduate Diploma?

This is the first question that comes to mind when one decides to study this graduate program. According to Wikipedia, a postgraduate diploma is usually awarded to students who have completed the master’s programme and continuing a 1 year advanced course similar to the first year of a PhD program.

A postgraduate diploma typically represents 120 credits of postgraduate courses (whereas a full master’s degree is usually 180 credits).

Additionally, a Postgraduate Diploma takes a total duration of approximately 30 weeks to complete and is considered to be the equivalent of the MA qualification. It also does not require students to complete a dissertation project.

The next question is what exactly would be the benefit of studying for a PGDip over any other form of postgraduate qualification?

Before answering these questions here are a few universities we recommend for postgraduate diplomas and certificates:

The website links are attached to them so you can check the courses they offer and apply once interested.

Universities offering online postgraduate certificates and diplomas

There are also so many options for postgraduate certificates and diplomas online and you don’t have to go to a different country to study one. You can do your study from the comfort of your home.

Here are a few universities we recommend:

Universities Offering Online Postgraduate Diplomas

What Level is a Postgraduate Diploma?

If you have decided to obtain a postgraduate degree, one of the first things you’ll need to know is the ranking according to the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Just like a master’s degree, the postgraduate diploma is a Level 9 Award. The entry requirements are typically Honours Bachelor Degrees but holders of Ordinary Bachelor Degrees may also apply.

5 Reasons to do a Postgraduate Diploma

A lot of students want to get a postgraduate diploma for several reasons. We’ll give you 5 of those major reasons

1.  Employment 

Nowadays, everyone has a degree and because of that, degrees are becoming ever more commonplace so it is important to make your CV stand out from the rest. How do you make it stand out? One of the ways is by studying for a Postgraduate Diploma. This will not only help you acquire new skills that will assist you in your working life, but it will also allow you to have that competitive edge over other candidates potentially applying for the same roles.

2. Time Constraints

While the Postgraduate Diploma requires students to complete 120 credits worth of work as indicated earlier, a Master’s qualification will expect students to have completed 180 credits worth of learning. This is much more time heavy.

If you’re uncertain as to whether you want to commit to that long study, it is advisable to complete the Postgraduate Diploma and then, if you deem it necessary at a later date, convert your qualification into an MA through the submission of a dissertation.

3. Career Change/Learn New Skills

Many students opt to study something new at the postgraduate level but don’t want to commit to a content-heavy course before finding out whether it is something they will truly enjoy. In such a case, studying for a Postgraduate Diploma allows the potential applicant to dip their toes in the water without committing to a year of highly intensive study. You also learn new skills while you study.

4. Finance

In general, the average Postgraduate Diploma course costs less than its MA equivalent, although this isn’t always the case. With postgraduate courses at all levels becoming more and more expensive, many graduates prefer to study courses with lower tuition fee costs such as PGDip, and then potentially save up some money over a longer period if they’re interested in pursuing an even further course of study.

5. Networking Opportunities

If you’re working within a specific industry such as Law or Journalism, studying for a Postgraduate Diploma at a reputable University will allow you the opportunity to enlarge your network and make work-related connections.

Most courses have industry experts who come to give talks and seminars about working life, and may even offer prestigious work placements to their students. Many graduates use the contacts made while studying to find postgraduate employment when they’re done.

Studying a Postgraduate Diploma: What to Expect

Are you wondering about what to expect if you’re going to study for a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) after you’ve completed your undergraduate qualification? Fortunately for you, your PGDip wouldn’t be too different from your undergraduate degree, but there will still be some things (mainly relating to the standard of your work) that you’ll have to adjust to.

1. Will there be more work?

Your PGDip qualification is more advanced than your BA or BSc, therefore it is likely there will not only be more work, but that anything submitted by you should be written to a consistently high standard.

Having said this, before you are given a place on your course, the university of your choice will have not only seen your academic transcript but will have had references from previous tutors, and will come to the knowledge that you are more than capable of meeting its standards.

2. Will I have to write a dissertation?

The answer to this is No! A PGDip is different from a Master’s degree in that it doesn’t require students to complete a dissertation. However, if you are among those wishing to continue their studies at PhD level, then you should take a Master’s course. But if you’re undecided over whether to study for an MA/MSc or PGDip then look for a course that gives you the option to convert your PGDip into an MA/MSc over the summer months.

3. How much contact time will I get?

The contact time you get will very much depend upon the course you choose to study. However, the teaching structure will be similar to that of an undergraduate course. Your time will be split between attending lectures and seminars and carrying out your work and research – expect to become well acquainted with the library!

In addition, you’ll be allocated an academic tutor upon your arrival at the university, and you will be encouraged to meet with them regularly throughout your study time. They will not only be able to assist you with any academic problems you may have, but they will also be able to offer advice and career guidance

Requirements of a Postgraduate Diploma

Most postgraduate diploma programs require students to have obtained a bachelor’s degree before enrolling. Some accept an advanced diploma, graduate certificate, or significant professional experience instead.

A postgraduate diploma program offers students advanced, practical knowledge of one subject area. It may also provide knowledge in new subject areas for students who are thinking about changing careers or disciplines. Students can even pursue preparatory courses for a master’s degree program. Some programs also include hands-on experience, such as that gained through internships.

Benefits of a Postgraduate Diploma

As earlier asked, at the beginning of this article, many people look to postgraduate study for many reasons. Here are some of the most notable benefits and advantages of taking a postgraduate diploma.

1. Time and cost-effectiveness

One of the main advantages of postgraduate diploma programs is that they can be completed in a shorter amount of time than master’s degree programs as stated earlier. What this means is that the course is cheaper and less time-consuming, making it easier for many people to obtain.

Most postgraduate diplomas can be completed in 1 year of full-time study or 2 years if it is a part-time study. Masters degrees, on the other hand, take anywhere from 33% to 50% longer.

2. Flexibility

Another advantage of a postgraduate diploma is that they are often more flexible than other higher education qualifications. What this means is that they can be tailored to your specific needs and interests.

Let’s take for example, instead of completing a long master’s degree, you can select only the subjects from the master’s program that you’re interested in and study them for a postgraduate diploma.

Many institutions also offer the option to study online (we listed some of the institutions above). This flexibility makes postgraduate diplomas an attractive option for people who are already in full-time employment, as they can often be completed around work commitments.

3. Improved career prospects

Let’s suppose you’re looking for a career change or want to scale up the ladder within your current organization, especially in business and management. In this case, a postgraduate qualification would give you the edge over other candidates.

In many cases, having a postgraduate diploma can improve your job prospects and earning potential. It also shows potential employers your willingness to invest in your development.

4. Specialized knowledge

Another benefit of these postgraduate courses is that they allow you to develop specialist knowledge in your chosen field. For instance, if you want to work in psychology, taking a Graduate Diploma in Psychology online will give you the skills and knowledge you need to pursue this career.

This specialized knowledge can be extremely valuable, both in terms of your career prospects and your future earnings. As they say, knowledge is power!

Disadvantages of the Qualification

Of course, like they say, everything that has an advantage has a disadvantage and like all qualifications, there are also some disadvantages to studying for a postgraduate diploma.

1. It’s not a master’s degree

One potential disadvantage of a postgraduate diploma is that it is not the same as a master’s degree. Yes, the two postgraduate qualifications are similar, the postgraduate diploma is an abbreviated master’s degree and is generally considered slightly lower in status.

The lower status may be important to you if you’re looking to study for a Ph.D. or if you are venturing into working in a highly competitive field. While having a master’s degree is often optional, in some cases it can be a prerequisite or the standard qualification to hold.

2. It’s not always necessary

Another potential disadvantage is that a postgraduate diploma may not be necessary depending on your career goals. We’ll give you an example; suppose you are venturing into a field where experience is more important than qualifications, such as teaching or social work. In that case, postgraduate courses may be superfluous.

It’s important to consider whether a postgraduate diploma is right for you and your career before you commit to studying for one.

3. No guarantee of success

Although postgraduate diploma programs can give you an edge in the job market, there is no guarantee of success. Ultimately, it is up to you to make the most of your qualifications and use them to further your career.

How It Differs from an Undergraduate Degree

An undergraduate degree, also called a bachelor’s degree, is your first step into higher education. It usually takes 3 or 4 years to complete, depending on the country you’re studying in.

A postgraduate diploma, on the other hand, is a qualification you can take after you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree. That’s why it is one of the graduate programs available.

While a bachelor’s degree gives you a general overview of your subject, postgraduate courses allow you to specialize in a particular area. For instance, if you have studied psychology at the undergraduate level, you could take a PG Diploma in Clinical Psychology.

Difference Compared to a Postgraduate Certificate

In general, postgraduate diplomas are longer and more advanced than postgraduate certificates. They usually contain more subjects and may cover more complex material. While a graduate certificate course usually covers only the introductory parts of a master’s degree, the graduate diploma gets into the meat of the program.

While they’re a respected and useful qualification, postgraduate certificates are typically short. They can be taken as standalone or as part of a larger qualification, such as a postgraduate diploma. For instance, you might take a graduate certificate in marketing as part of your PG Diploma in Business.

Apart from the length and level of difficulty, another key difference between postgraduate diploma programs and a certificate is that a postgraduate diploma may be required for certain jobs. For example, a postgraduate diploma in Mental Health Nursing qualifies you to be a mental health nurse in Australia whereas a graduate certificate does not.

Frequently Asked Questions about Postgraduate Diploma

1. What’s Equivalent to a Postgraduate Diploma?

A postgraduate diploma sits below the level of a master’s degree. This makes it equivalent to a postgraduate certificate or an honors degree. You can think of the program as an abbreviated master’s as stated earlier, with not all subjects completed. The graduates of this program have studied at a master’s level but with insufficient coursework and/or research to be considered masters in their discipline.

In the Australian Qualifications Framework, a graduate diploma is at Level 8. This places a postgraduate diploma alongside a bachelor’s with an honors degree and a graduate certificate. Just below the graduate diploma, at Level 7, is a bachelor’s degree. Above the graduate diploma, at Level 9, is a master’s degree.

2. Is a Postgraduate Diploma Worth It?

This is a difficult question to answer as the worthiness depends on your circumstances. While we can’t decide for you, here are some factors you should consider when making your decision.

  •  Your career goals: One of the most important things to consider is your career goals. What are your career goals? A postgraduate diploma may be unnecessary if you want to work in a field where experience is more important than qualifications. On the other hand, if you want to work in a highly competitive field or pursue further study, a PG Diploma could give you the edge you need. There is also an option to exit with this postgraduate qualification or continue studying for a master’s degree depending on how you’re going with your studies.
  • Your financial situation: While postgraduate diplomas are typically cheaper than master’s degrees, at half to two-thirds of the cost, they’re still not free. So you will need to consider whether you can afford the tuition fees and any relocation or living costs before deciding.
  • Your level of commitment: What is your commitment like? Like all postgraduate studies, postgraduate diploma programs require a significant commitment of time and effort. Postgraduate diploma students need to be committed to their studies, have a long-term goal in mind, and be able to put in the required study time each week.

With all of this in mind, we hope you now understand postgraduate diplomas better. If you think a PG Diploma is right for you and you want to venture into it, then the next step is to start researching your options.


Most postgraduate diplomas are available online, so you have plenty of choices regarding institutions and courses. Whatever and whichever one you decide, we wish you the best of luck in your studies!

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