4 Things to Ask Before Choosing a Certificate, Diploma or Degree

Looking to stay productive or become more ready for the digital future? One great way to do this and stand out from the crowd is to gain credentials in digital skills, especially those related to data, AI, cloud technology, and other up-and-coming industries.

The three most common ways to gain such credentials are Certificates, Diplomas, and Degrees. Each has its own advantages, which makes it difficult for those who just want one to start with. Here's a quick guide to help you choose between a Certificate, Diploma, and Degree.

Someone holding a rolled up document: A certificate, diploma, or degree.
Choosing between a Certificate, Diploma and Degree can be difficult if you don't know where to start.

To start, let's define what each term means:


Often provided by universities, polytechnics, private academies and companies, certificates are formal documents which show that you have completed a course and/or certification exam. The content covered tends to be either broad, i.e. covering each topic briefly, or deep, i.e. covering a specific topic in detail. Admission is flexible and the length of certification courses range from a day to weeks and even months, but are usually the shortest between the three.


Diplomas certify that you have successfully completed the requirements set by the endorsing university, polytechnic and/or (in some cases) high school. Most diploma courses have fixed admissions, are completed within about three years of study and are typically associated with broad and deep practical and/or technical training.