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A diploma (from Greek δίπλωµα diploma, meaning "folded paper") 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 United Kingdommarker and Australia, the word diploma refers to a level of academic award.

In some countries, such as the UK and Australia, such a document can be called a testimonium or testamur, Latin for "we testify" or "certify" (testari), and so called from the word with which the certificate begins. In Irelandmarker, it is generally called a parchment.

Diploma styles

Sheepskin diploma from Mexico City College, 1948 (in Latin)
Originally, diplomas were made of thin sheepskin, as paper was difficult to create and also extremely delicate at that time. The entire diploma was written by hand due to the lack of printing presses. 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 printed on large paper, but it has become common to print diplomas on standard letter or A4 size paper.

Usage

  • In the U.S., the word diploma usually refers to the actual document received at the end of higher education. This can lead to some confusion when persons who obtained a degree in the USA are presenting their academic credentials in other countries (see below).
    • 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 some countries, such as Australia, Pakistanmarker and Indiamarker 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). The piece of paper documenting one's degree is usually referred to as a "degree certificate", not a "diploma".




  • In Pakistanmarker, a Diploma is a specific academic award usually awarded in professional/vocational courses e.g. Engineering, Nursing, Fashion, etc. In such cases, a diploma is lower in rank than a specific Bachelor's degree of that discipline. As diploma studies started on vocational route of study after school for 3 years, the Bachelor of Technology is the logical degree for diploma graduates if they want to complete the Bachelor. Also Diploma are little bit specific in nature e.g. Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering or Industrial Electronics, Civil Engineering. graduates of Diplomas work as associates to Engineers and often called as Associate Engineers. Few Postgraduate Diploma or PGD are ranked higher than the Bachelor degree as they are completed after graduation. These are normally a year courses after a university degree.








  • In Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, diplomas are awarded by colleges of applied arts and technology whereas bachelor degrees are awarded by universities. In Canadamarker, depending on the provincial legislation, there may be a subtle difference between a college and a university.


  • In the Kingdom of Spainmarker, university diplomas are issued in the name of the King. As such, they are Public Official documents, strictly regulated and protected by the law. They are internationally recognized by the Hague Convention of October 5th 1961.






  • In Greecemarker, diplomas can be awarded by various educational institutes as a proof of a certain educational level. Diploma in engineering is a high award provided by Greek technical universities after the successful completion of a 5-year programme and is equivalent to British bachelor and master of engineering.


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