A diploma (from Greek δίπλωµα diploma) is a certificate or deed issued by an educational institution, such as a university, that testifies that the recipient has successfully completed a particular course of study, or confers an academic degree. In countries such as the U.K. and Australia, the word diploma refers to a level of academic award (see below).
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, such a document is called a testimonium or testamur, Latin for "we testify" or "certify" (testari), and so called from the word with which the certificate begins.
Past diploma styles
Diplomas were originally made of sheepskin, as paper was not very durable and was difficult to create. The sheepskin was made paper thin and information was handwritten. Soon, parchment was used for the diploma and at the turn of the 20th century, the diploma became bound in leather.
Diplomas used to be quite large, but it has become common to print diplomas on standard letter or A4 size paper.
As an academic award
- In the U.S., the word diploma usually refers to the actual document received at the end of higher education. It also can refer to a specific academic award. An example would be in the field of Nursing where the Diploma in Nursing was offered by hospital based schools. In other parts of the world, diploma often refers to the actual education or is some indication of the amount of time spent in study.
- In some countries, such as Australia and India a diploma is a specific academic award of lower rank than a bachelor degree (and in some areas an Advanced Diploma falls in between as well).
- In India a diploma is a specific academic award usually awarded in professional/vocational courses e.g. Engineering, Pharmacy, Designing, etc. In such cases Diploma is lower in rank than a specific bachelor degree of that discipline but equivalent to general degree in that discipline e.g. Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering is lower than Bachelor of Technology in Electronics Engineering but is equivalent to Bachelor of Science in Electronics. Also Diploma are little bit specific in nature e.g. Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering may be in Advanced Communication Systems (ACS) or Integrated Circuits (IC) or Industrial Electronics (IE) ...
- In Ireland a National Diploma is below the standard of the honours Bachelor's degree, whilst the Higher Diploma is taken after the bachelor degree.
- In Germany, Ukraine and other countries that adopted the German academic education system, diploma (in German Diplom) is the standard academic degree, comparable with the Bachelor's and Master's degree in one.
- In Hong Kong, higher diploma and associate degree are below the standard of the honours bachelor's degree. Certificate (not to be confused with postgraduate certificate) and diploma are below the standard of higher diploma and associate degree. Postgraduate Certificates and Postgraduate Diplomas are taken after the bachelor degree, and are more vocational oriented than a master's degree.
- In Ontario, Canada, diplomas are awarded by colleges whereas bachelor degrees are awarded by universities. In Canada there is a subtle difference between a college and a university.
- The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is a pre-university qualification normally taken by students in the final two years of high school.
- In the UK, diploma can refer to several different types of academic qualification. The Diploma of Higher Education is a higher education award below the standard of a bachelor's degree. The term can also refer to a Postgraduate Diploma or to the new 14-19 Diploma to be introduced in England in September 2008.
- Bachelor Degree
- Bologna process
- High school diploma
- Diploma mill
- Diploma in Engineering
- Diploma in Computer Science
- Postgraduate Diploma in Education
- Professional Graduate Diploma in Education
- "International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme". Retrieved 2007-05-08.