Degrees, Diplomas, and More: Field Guide to Centennial College Credentials

By Centennial College Modified on December 01, 2023
Tags : Academics

What's the difference between degrees, diplomas, and certificates? Find out what you can expect with each credential.

 Degrees, Diplomas, and More: Field Guide to Centennial College Credentials

When you’re picking your college program, it can be daunting to figure out what you’ll get at the end. There’s more to coming to college than just choosing your school. You need to pick your program, and that also means picking what kind of credential you’re walking away with.

We’ve got over 400 programs at Centennial College, and they all have the same result: you’ll learn skills that’ll put you on the path to success. But the credential that you actually get can be different. Degrees? Diplomas? Certificates? Choosing can feel a bit complicated. So, here’s a helpful cheat sheet to make it a little easier.

Ontario College Certificates

These Centennial College programs tend to be shorter in duration, usually one year or less if you’re studying full-time, and focus on hands-on learning that’ll expand your skillset. The purpose of a Certificate program is to give you job skills that can get you hired in a specific career, and are intended for students who want a fast path into employment.

Ontario College Diplomas, and Ontario College Advanced Diplomas

Diplomas take at least two years to get (unless you’re taking a Fast-Track version), and are more advanced. They’re like Certificates in that they’re focused around hands-on job skills, but are complimented by lectures, along with practical lab work.

In terms of what you learn, they prepare you for a broader range of careers, while still teaching you hands-on skills. Often, Diploma programs come with a field placement, or co-op component, to see you take those skills out into the real world and get work experience in a related industry, while still earning your education.

Bachelor Degrees / Honours Bachelor Degrees

A Bachelor’s Degree is a longer, more involved program, which takes at least four years to finish. The big difference with them is that Bachelor’s Degree programs provide a bit more in-class learning, on top of the hands-on experience. A Bachelor’s Degree program will begin with a foundation of general knowledge about a subject, before branching out into specific, specialized skills (including, possibly, a co-op or placement).

Because of that more academic component, Bachelor’s Degrees are typically only offered in Universities, but Centennial College offers a selection of them, too, backed up with the school’s usual hands-on learning approach.

Ontario College Graduate Certificates

These are also like standard Certificate programs, in that they’re short programs that typically run for less than a year. The big difference is that Graduate Certificates can only be taken after you’ve already got some post-secondary education under your belt. That’s because they build on what you already learned in post-secondary study, and give you a career advantage through teaching you extra, focused skills training to help you stand out, along with potential co-op or field placement opportunities, depending on the program.

Apprenticeship Programs

These programs let you learn skilled trades in a work environment with experienced professionals. Two to five years in duration, they begin with on-campus studies, but the focus is on-the-job learning that’ll turn you into a working professional through real experience. Learn more about how Centennial College Apprenticeship programs work here.


These are special Centennial College programs, produced in collaboration with the Government of Ontario. They’re available to students in Diploma and Advanced Diploma programs, and can be taken alongside them. They’re short, concise online learning experiences that are flexible, modern, and focused on industry needs and the future of work. If you want to really drill down and learn in-depth about a specific skill, they’re the best way to do it. Learn more about Centennial College Micro-credentials programs here.

Specialized Academic Certificates

These are a specialized credential that’s available to students in select programs. Unique to Centennial College, each of these special certificates are earned by taking a short run of four courses on a subject, giving you an extra credential to go along with your College education. Learn more about Specialized Academic Certificates here.

Explore your program options at Centennial College

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