What is a diploma?
A diploma is a general college degree, along the lines of a certificate. Earning a college diploma means that you have completed training toward a certain career, but doesn't necessarily specify how much training. Most people earn diplomas to transition directly into a specific career. Others use a diploma as the foundation for a more time-consuming degree.
Various types of schools offer diplomas in a multitude of college degree programs. Diploma-granting institutions include career colleges, vocational schools and technical schools. It is important to make sure that you earn your diploma at a school that is accredited to grant college degrees.
Why should I earn a diploma?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it can benefit you greatly to have any sort of college education. Even those who have only completed some college courses have a lower unemployment rate and higher earnings than those who have just a high school diploma.
How can I earn a diploma?
Diplomas are awarded by career colleges, community colleges, online schools and some universities. Most diploma programs can be completed within a year, but specific credit and time requirements vary by state, school and program.
What can I do with a diploma?
Students enroll in diploma programs for many reasons — to open opportunities for a new career, to become licensed for advancement in a current career, to satisfy continuing education requirements in a current career, or for other types of personal gain. Although many diploma programs are designed to stand alone, some may be subsets of a higher college degree program. Information can be found at your individual school.
A note on diploma mills: While diploma mills have gotten lots of negative media attention over recent years, don't let this deter you. Plenty of legitimate schools across the country grant diplomas that can help you further your career.
Watch out for diploma mills by researching the accreditation of your school, and be wary of the following characteristics:
- Little or no academic work required to earn a diploma
- Degrees can be obtained within a few days, weeks or months
- Academic credit is offered based on life experience
- Promotional literature contains grammatical and spelling errors