The Difference Between an Associate Degree, a Diploma and a Certificate

The Difference Between an Associate Degree, a Diploma and a Certificate

When it comes to getting an education, there are so many options, an Associate Degree, a Diploma, or a Certificate. All those options, along with deciding where, when, and what to study  – it can be difficult. When is the right time? What will you study? Where will you go? So many things to consider. You may be wondering what the differences are and how to choose the right program for your goals. Fortunately, we’ve got some answers to help you get on the career path that’s right for you!

Program Length

The first thing to understand about any program you’re considering is the time frame for completion. It’s also one of the main differences between the three awards. An Associate Degree program typically takes around two years to complete. For example, graduates of the Natural Health Program at Daytona College earn an Associate of Science Degree upon completion of the 60-week program. Whereas, other Beauty & Wellness Programs at Daytona are 40 weeks long with graduates earning a diploma. The majority of diploma programs take one year or less. A certificate program often requires even less time to complete. One of Daytona’s Allied Health Programs – the Home Health Aide Program, earns you a certificate and consists of 75 contact hours and only 2.0 credit hours of instruction and clinical practice. In some cases, certificate programs enhance your existing skillset or to refresh your knowledge in a particular area.

Type of Institution

Another differentiator between the three awards is the type of institution each is offered at. Most traditional 4-year universities offer Associate and Bachelors’ Degree programs, as well as more advanced graduate degrees. These degrees are required for many professional fields. This differs from most technical and vocational schools, where skill-based training is more common and diploma and certificate programs more prevalent. (Although many technical schools also offer Associate and Bachelors’ Degree programs). In addition to the Natural Health Program mentioned above, Daytona College also provides three other Associate Degree options in its Allied Health curriculum–Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, and Nursing. The programs offered at the Diploma level are for students who are seeking a faster track to earning.

Program Outcomes

Depending on what field you decide to pursue, the requirements for working in that field differ. For individuals seeking careers in professional roles such as teaching or law, the longer, more traditional university route is going to be their best option for success. But for skill-based careers in fields like Cosmetology, Practical Nursing, or Therapeutic Massage, a high-quality diploma program is a great choice. They can get you working in your chosen field much faster. It all comes down to what your unique goals happen to be for your career. No matter what career path you want, be sure to do the research and be aware of what kind of education will give you the best chance for success! And if you’d like to learn more about a career in the Beauty & Wellness or Healthcare industries, check out all the programs at Daytona College. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a campus tour. After all, the best way to know–is to go! Schedule your visit to Daytona today