diploma and associate degree program

Diploma Program and Associate Degree Program: What’s the Difference?

There are so many important questions to answer regarding getting your education. Things like, what career path will you choose? Where will you study? But to answer these basic questions, you’ll need to understand the differences between various types of programs. For example, does the program you’re considering offer a diploma upon completion or an associate degree? The answer to that question may be the deciding factor for making the right choice for your future. To help you reach the ideal path, we’re breaking down some things you should know about a diploma and associate degree program.

What is the Program Length?

One of the most significant differences between a diploma and an associate degree program is how long it typically takes to complete the program. An associate degree program usually takes around two years to complete. For example, the  Diagnostic Medical Sonography Echocardiography program graduates at Caris College earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree upon completing the 24-month program. However, programs such as the Comprehensive Dental Assisting program at Caris College can be completed in as little as 10 months, with graduates earning a diploma. Other diploma programs can be completed in one year or less.

Coursework is Different

Associate degree programs typically include general studies courses such as Math and English, while diploma program coursework focuses on the specific job skills required. It’s also important to note that the type of degree or diploma offered is sometimes based on the accrediting body’s requirements.

Program Outcomes

The requirements for working in that field differ depending on what area you decide to pursue. Some careers will require a minimum of an associate degree to obtain licensure. The sonography field is a good example. Because while the requirements do vary from state to state, to obtain licensure or certification for many roles in this field, you must first complete an accredited associate degree program. It all comes down to what your unique goals happen to be for your career. No matter what career path you choose, be sure to research and know what kind of education will give you the best chance for success!

What are the Benefits of a Diploma vs an Associate Degree?

One of the key benefits of obtaining an associate degree is the ability to transfer more credits to a bachelor’s degree program should you advance your education even further. Earning an associate degree can also open the door to more opportunities, and often the compensation is higher for individuals with an associate degree vs. a diploma.

On the flip side, if you’re eager to jump into the workforce and start earning, a diploma program puts you on the path to your career in half the time.

Deciding which path to pursue depends on your personal goals. Both associate degree and diploma programs are significant steps toward a future career you can be proud of. If you’re exploring your options for furthering your education, check out the programs at Caris College. With accelerated ten- and twelve-month diploma programs and associate degree programs, Caris College is sure to have one that fits your unique goals for the future. Contact us today to learn more.


Free ultrasounds by our Sonography students Mondays at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm from 4/1 - 5/20! Must have confirmed pregnancy by physician and 18 weeks gestation. To schedule an appointment, call 812-258-9510.