Both, degree and diploma are types of recognition conferred on a person on the successful completion of an educational course. However, there are a lot of differences between the two and they aren’t interchangeable.
To understand the difference between a degree and a diploma, we first need to know what a university is, what AICTE is, and the role of the University Grants Commission (UGC) in India.
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees for a number of courses.
UGC stands for the University Grants Commission. The UGC was established in November 1956 as a statutory body of the Government of India for the coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of university education in India. All cases pertaining to the allocation of grants-in-aid from public funds to the Central Universities and other Universities and Institutions of higher learning might be referred to the University Grants Commission.
What UGC is to universities, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is to private institutes that impart technical education. The body works towards qualitative improvement of technical education, and towards implementation and proper maintenance of norms and standards in a technical education system.
The duration of a degree course is usually 3 to 4 years and the emphasis is on academics. For example, B.Com (H) is a 3-year degree course that teaches students subjects like accountancy, economics, and business studies; B.Tech is a 4-year degree course that teaches subjects like physics, chemistry and math, and includes the subject one plans to major in, an MBBS is a 5 and 1/2-year long degree that teaches the general aspects of medicine.
Only a university can confer a degree. To pursue higher education, only a degree from a UGC-approved university is accepted. AICTE-approved private institutes are affiliated to UGC-approved universities. In case a person graduates from an AICTE approved private institute affiliated to a UGC approved university, he still gets the degree of the university.
Example: There are many AICTE approved private colleges under Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, but after the completion of the course the student does not get a degree of the institute, he gets a degree of the university in this case, Guru Gobind Singh Indraparastha University
The curriculum is designed in a way that it provides an overview of many subjects, other than the one the student may be interested in. For example, in an engineering degree course for Computer Science, the first year focuses on subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Mechanics, and Engineering Drawing apart from languages like C and COBOL; subsequent years have subjects like Digital Electronics and Analog Electronics. Typically, there is one subject that you major in, called the specialization whereas other subjects are called electives.
After finishing your degree, you can opt to take up higher education to better your skills or look for a job in your field. For example, after a B.Com (H) degree, you can opt to work in finance or accounting, or apply to college abroad to pursue an MBA or M.Comm.
A person must have successfully passed the 12th standard to pursue a bachelor’s degree. One must possess a bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s degree.
A diploma course is a short term course (usually 1 to 2 years in duration) that focuses on training a person in a particular field.
An institute, a polytechnic, or even a university can offer a diploma course. There is no need for the institute or the university to be UGC or AICTE approved.
The course is designed in a way such that the person gets basic theoretical knowledge about the subject in focus, apart from extensive practical training needed in the job industry. A lot of diploma courses have on-the-job training and apprenticeship, and focus more on practical exams. For example, a diploma in computer science involves subjects centered on programming languages and computer hardware only.
After a diploma, you can either enroll for a degree course or look for jobs. For example, in universities like Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, you can enroll in a B.Tech in Computer Science course, after you complete your diploma course. In that case, you will be directly given admission to second year. It is generally very difficult to get admitted to a higher degree after only a diploma course. In order to do so, you need to pursue a course for at least 1 or 2 more years, after your diploma.
A person can enroll for a diploma course even after class 10. There are diploma courses that require the candidate to be an HSC pass-out. Diploma courses at the masters level require the candidate to have a graduate degree.
|A degree course is usually a 3 to 4 year long course conferred by a UGC-recognised university, after the completion of a course. An institute cannot confer a degree.||A diploma is a short-term course, lasting 1 or 2 years, and is not necessarily given by a university. It could be conducted by an institute or polytechnic as well.|
|Only a university can confer a degree. To pursue higher education, a degree from only a UGC approved university is accepted.||An institute, a polytechnic or even a university can offer a diploma course. There is no need for the institute or the university to be UGC or AICTE approved.|
|Typically, there is one subject that you major in, called the specialization whereas other subjects are called electives.||A diploma is a specific academic award usually awarded for professional/vocational courses.|
|A degree holder is preferred over a diploma holder in the same field.|| |
The relative importance of a diploma, when compared to a degree course is less.
| Degree programs give more in-depth knowledge and potentially start you at a higher level.||Diploma programs provide education within your given field and get you into the work force sooner.|
Across the country there are many reputed institutes including the IIMs which offer diploma as well as degree programs. The career prospects for a student depends on the competency of the student, the institute, the kind of course curriculum it offers, and the student’s own work ethic.