A diploma (from Greek δίπλωµα. díplōma, 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 Kingdom and Australia, the word diploma refers to a level of academic award. The words diplomat and diplomacy have the same origin, from the official "folded papers" of accreditation delivered by ambassadors or delegates.

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 Ireland, it is generally called a parchment. The certificate that a Nobel laureate receives is also called a diploma.

The term diploma is also used in some historical contexts, to refer to documents signed by a King affirming a grant or tenure of specified land and its conditions (see Anglo-Saxon Charters and Diplomatics).


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.[when?][citation needed] 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[when?], the diploma became bound in leather.[citation needed]

Diplomas used to be printed on large paper, but it has become common to print diplomas on standard letter or A4 size paper.


  • In the U.S., the word diploma usually refers to the actual document received at the end of high school, undergraduate studies, or graduate/professional school. 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 Australia, a diploma can mean one of three things: an advanced level course in the vocational education and training sector equivalent to the some years of a bachelor degree; a Graduate Diploma, which is undertaken after completing a degree but at undergraduate level in a field other than that covered by the degree (e.g. the Graduate Diploma of Education necessary to become a school teacher in most Australian states); and a Postgraduate Diploma, a coursework-only qualification which is undertaken as additional study in a specialisation within one's degree area. Both the course itself and the certification are referred to as a "diploma" in Australian English.
  • In India, a diploma is a specific academic award usually earned in professional/vocational courses e.g. Engineering, Pharmacy, Design, etc. In such cases, a diploma is specific in rank than a Bachelor's degree of that discipline but equivalent to general degree in that discipline e.g. Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering is rated differently than Bachelor of Technology in Electronics Engineering but is equivalent to Bachelor of Science in Electronics. Also Diploma is concentrated for the area of study e.g. Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering may be in Advanced Communication Systems (ACS) or Integrated Circuits (IC) or Industrial Electronics (IE).
  • In Pakistan, a Diploma is a specific academic award usually earned in professional/vocational courses e.g. Engineering, Nursing, Fashion, etc. In such cases, a dipelor'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 next degree for diploma graduates. Also Diploma is concentrated for the area of study 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 worth of coursework after a university degree.
  • In Greece, 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.
  • In Ontario, Canada, diplomas are awarded by colleges of applied arts and technology whereas bachelor degrees are awarded by universities. In Canada, depending on the provincial legislation, there may be a subtle difference between a college and a university.
  • In the Kingdom of Spain, 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 5, 1961.
  • In Mexico and other Latin American countries, a diploma may be awarded for short courses of vocational training. The university-issued diplomas finalizing higher education are most often called título (title) or certificado (certificate).

See also


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  • diplomă — DÍPLOMĂ, diplome, s.f. 1. Act oficial care certifică pregătirea profesională a unei persoane, un anumit titlu etc. 2. Act eliberat unui participant la o expoziţie sau la un concurs, prin care se recunoaşte calitatea deosebită a lucrărilor expuse… …   Dicționar Român

  • Diploma — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda En su acepción clásica, se llama diploma a cualquier instrumento o documento expedido por alguna Autoridad pública. Entre los diferentes nombres con que se le conoce en la antigüedad, se hallan como más comunes los… …   Wikipedia Español

  • diploma — /di plɔma/ s.m. [dal lat. diploma ătis, gr. díplōma atos, propr. scritto piegato in due ] (pl. i ). 1. (bibl.) [dal Rinascimento, attestato solenne di sovrani o di pubbliche autorità] ▶◀ ↓ carta, documento. ‖ pergamena. 2. [documento di un… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • diploma — 1640s, state paper, official document, from L. diploma, from Gk. diploma license, chart, originally paper folded double, from diploun to double, fold over, from diploos double (see DIPLOID (Cf. diploid)) + OMA (Cf. oma). Specific academic sense… …   Etymology dictionary

  • diploma — diplóma ž DEFINICIJA 1. vrsta javnog akta i dokumenta; povelja 2. a. svjedodžba o položenom završnom ispitu, o dodjeli titule b. dokument kojim se priznaje kakav naslov ili stupanj odnosno kakva kvalifikacija, ili se daju kakva prava [dobiti… …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • diploma — sustantivo masculino 1. Documento oficial que acredita la obtención de un título, un premio o una condecoración: Ya le han dado el diploma de peluquero. Tiene el diploma del segundo premio de cuentos de una ciudad manchega. 2. Documento medieval… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • diploma — (Del lat. diplōma, y este del gr. δίπλωμα, de διπλοῦν, doblar). 1. m. Despacho, bula, privilegio u otro instrumento autorizado con sello y armas de un soberano, cuyo original queda archivado, y, por ext., documento importante. 2. Título o… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • diploma — ‘Título’. Aunque termina en a, es masculino: el diploma …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • diploma — [də plō′mə] n. pl. diplomas; for 1, also, diplomata [də plō′mə tə] [də plō′mə tə] [L, state letter of recommendation < Gr diplōma, folded letter < diploun, to double < diploos, DOUBLE] 1. an official state document or historical… …   English World dictionary

  • Diploma — Di*plo ma, n.; pl. {Diplomas}. [L., fr. Gr. ?, fr. ? to double, fr. diplo os twofold. See {Double}.] A letter or writing, usually under seal, conferring some privilege, honor, or power; a document bearing record of a degree conferred by a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Diplōma — (gr.), 1) (röm. Ant.), ein aus einem zusammengelegten Blatt bestehendes Schreiben, wodurch die Befehlshaber der Städte u. andere Beamte, namentlich Postmeister, angewiesen wurden, den Vorzeiger schnell weiter zu befördern u. sonst zu unterstützen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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