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Ashworth College Blog

What Are the Differences Between a Certificate, Diploma, & Degree?

Written by Nicole Krempasky on Monday, 24 August 2020. Posted in Career, Online College, Why Ashworth

Girl looking out from book.

So, you’re ready to start the next step in your education, but aren’t sure where to start. With so many options out there, the information can be overwhelming. For instance, what is the difference between a degree, a certificate, and a diploma? Are there different kinds of each? And more importantly, which one will meet your needs? Ashworth College can help you understand your options and choose which path is right for you.

What is a certificate?

A certificate program typically involves the least amount of time with regard to studies, and the least amount of money, too. They’re great options for those looking to jump straight into a skilled career, or wanting to gain an edge in a competitive job market. At Ashworth College, we offer three options:

  • Career Certificate. This is a condensed program focusing on one subject. If you’re looking to advance further in your skilled job, a career certificate may provide the extra boost on your application employers often seek.
  • Undergraduate Certificate. Many students use the undergraduate certificate courses as a jumping off point to higher education. It offers a sample of what an undergraduate degree program is like, but is a more focused path requiring less time and money to complete. If a student decides to continue to study further for either an associate or bachelor’s degree, you have the option to transfer your credits to another accredited Ashworth program.
  • Graduate Certificate. For those who have completed an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree program and wish to study further, a graduate certificate may be the right fit. Taking less time, money, and commitment than a master’s degree, a graduate certificate can provide additional specializations and higher level professional skills.

What is a diploma?

Maybe you’ve already begun your career and want to sharpen your skills. Or, maybe you’d like to start an entirely new career. If that’s the case, a career diploma may be right for you. On this track, you’ll combine general education credits along with career training, providing you with a more well-rounded education than just a certificate. In most instances, it’s possible to complete your coursework in under a year, providing you with a cost-effective education.

What is a degree?

Like a certificate, Ashworth offers three tracks for an online degree. Unlike the certificate programs, a degree program will take a bit more time and money to complete, particularly depending on which level is best for you.

  • Associate Degree. An associate degree is a two-year college degree, typically requiring 60 credit hours of study. In addition to major-specific courses, you’ll round out your studies with general education courses and electives. It can be a great stepping stone if you want to seek out higher education, but aren’t sure yet if a bachelor’s degree is necessary for you.
  • Bachelor’s Degree. Like an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree also encompasses study of major-specific courses, electives, and general education credits. As the standard qualification to many professional careers, it takes about four years to complete or 120 credits. But with Ashworth’s flexible, self-paced learning, you can complete your studies online at your own pace.
  • Master’s Degree. In order to enter a master’s degree program, you must first possess a bachelor’s degree. This highly focused program can take up to two years to complete, but when you graduate, you may be on a path towards increasing your earning potential.

Kickstart your education with Ashworth College

Regardless of whether a certificate, diploma, or degree is right for you, Ashworth College provides affordable, online, and self-paced options for a variety of learning needs. To learn more, contact an Admissions Advisor today at or get started by enrolling online.

Let's talk about your educational goals. Call 1-800-957-5412