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Master’s Degree vs. Post Graduate Diploma: Pros, Cons, and Career Impact

Going through the different programs on the websites of different universities, you may find that, aside from the undergraduate/bachelor’s programs, the rest of the programs fall under two different categories a ‘Master’s degree’ and a ‘Postgraduate Diploma’. 

They may seem similar at first, but there are some basic differences that you may want to take into account. 

So what’s the difference?

The difference in both these postgraduate programs is, in the case of postgraduate diplomas, they mostly last somewhere between 1 to 2 years depending on the program. A master’s degree, on the other hand, is usually 1.5 to 2 years long.

When the values of the two are compared, a master’s degree is much more valuable than a postgraduate diploma; In Canada, a postgraduate diploma only offers you a work permit that is valid whereas a master’s degree, offers you a work permit that lasts for three years.  

These programs are usually offered by both, colleges and universities. 

Before you decide on either, it’s important for you to take a more detailed look at what these programs offer:

There are mainly three types of postgraduate programs available in Canada:

  1. Thesis Based Master Programs (MSc or MASc)
  2. Course-Based Masters Programs
  3. Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma

Thesis-based master’s programs: These programs aim to train students to conduct independent research; hence, as the name suggests, they are designed with courses followed by a thesis. These programs are usually offered by universities.

Course-Based masters programs: These usually include more courses than a thesis-based program. And they don’t include having to write a thesis. These programs are also mostly offered by universities.

Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma: Lastly, a postgraduate/graduate diploma is a qualification, usually vocational, that focuses on acquiring a specific skill set and practical knowledge in a chosen field. These programs are offered both by colleges and universities.

Tuition fees:

In general, postgraduate diploma courses are cheaper than the Master’s programs, mainly because their duration is shorter.

However, this may not always be the case. The fee for a two-year long postgraduate diploma can be higher than a two-year master’s program.

In the end, however, the tuition fee greatly depends on the university and the program.


For thesis-based master programs, students may acquire funding from their supervisors or professors.

For course-based master’s and postgraduate diplomas, it can be a little difficult to get funding.

Academic Admission requirements:

If you’re not looking into too much extensive studying, and have average grades (less than 60 %) you can choose a postgraduate diploma.

For a student with higher grades and a CV with technical or work experience, it is recommended to choose a thesis-based master’s program or a course-based master’s program.

After graduation: 

When it comes to what happens after getting your degree/diploma, you have options as to what you want to do next.

The students with a postgraduate diploma are eligible to go for a job or they can pursue a master’s program after completion of their diploma. 

Course-based master students can go for a job, these students aren’t eligible for a Ph.D. 

Thesis-based master students can go for a job or can continue their education by applying for a Ph.D.

Make sure to choose carefully, taking into consideration what your future plans are as well as your current standpoint and eligibility! You can compare the various programs and choose the one that suits you best.

If you’d like to browse through these programs and decide on one, visit But, if you still feel conflicted, feel free to reach us at Global Nexus.

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