Undergraduate Credentials: What’s the Difference?

Degree, Diploma, and Certificate Requirements

 # of creditsUsual Time to complete if full-time studentPurposeCourses in Program
Certificate12 to 181-2 semesterTraining for skilled technical jobsIncludes **major course work
Diploma36 to 381 year (2 semesters and summer session)Provide entry-level employment trainingMinimum of 6 credits in *Gen Ed in addition to **major course work
Associate Degree64 to 762 yearsTransfer to a university or enter the workforceMinimum of 15 credits of *Gen ED in addition to **major course work
Bachelor Degree120 4 yearsQualify for graduate school or enter the workforceMinimum of 60 credits of *Gen ED in addition to **major course work
generally accepted standards in the USA at regionally accredited colleges & universities

*Gen Ed (General Education) – courses such as English, Math, Science, Humanities, etc.

**Major Course Work – courses specific to a program such as nursing, computers, welding, automotive, engineering, social science, etc.


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

2 thoughts on “Undergraduate Credentials: What’s the Difference?

  1. Hello!

    I’m sure you’ve answered this before, but is there a reason to graduate your student with an associates degree while in high school? Or a reason NOT to graduate them with an Associates; for example they wouldn’t qualify for Freshman scholarships?

    My son will be very close to an associates degree by the time he graduates high school. I was curious if I should push him a little harder to get the degree, if there was a reason to have it. He plans to get a bachelors.

    Thanks for your time and all you do!

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Excellent question Cassie- I will close with a link to a workshop I’ve taught/recorded that goes in depth as to the pros and cons, but here’s the super short answer: if he earns his degree in high school, he is still going to apply to college as a freshman (yes, really!) so the access to freshman scholarships doesn’t matter in that case. The question is more nuanced when there are other factors- like whether it costs extra money, takes extra time, delays the bachelor’s degree, doesn’t line up with the general education requirements of the bachelor’s degree, if it’s the only degree he will earn, and whether or not your state has written transfer protocol for that degree. So, there can be advantages and disadvantages – this might help you sort through your options and decide what makes sense for him. https://videos.files.wordpress.com/IhgpZf77/associate-degrees-in-hs-06092021_mp4_hd.mp4

Comments are closed.