Diploma or Foundation: Which Program Should You Choose?

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Diploma and foundation are two of the most preferred pathways to university for many SPM leavers. While neither program is better than the other, there are vast differences between the two programs that many students are unaware of. 

If you are considering either a diploma course or a foundation program as your pathway to tertiary education, knowing the major differences is crucial, in order to experience an enriching learning experience free of regrets! 

What is a Diploma?

A diploma is a qualification or certificate you achieve after completing in-depth classes and hands-on field experience that can help you enter your dream university or equip you with the skills you need to enter into the workforce.

What is a Foundation Program?

A Foundation Program is a study course, originated from the UK, designed to fill the gap between SPM and the level needed to gain entry into a bachelor’s degree program at a university.

Differences between Diploma & Foundation

1. Level of Qualification

  • Diploma

Diploma programs are one level below an undergraduate degree and can be considered equal to the first year of a Bachelor’s Degree. Hence, a Diploma program gets you a higher qualification than a Foundation program, 

  • Foundation

A foundation program gets you the same level of qualification as A-levels. It  is a lower qualification than a Diploma. This is however because of the short duration of the course and the subjects or study content covered under this program. 

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2. Duration of Course

  • Diploma

A Diploma takes longer than a Foundation Program. It can take upto 2-3 years to complete a Diploma. This is one of the major reasons why a Diploma is considered a higher qualification than a Foundation Program.

  • Foundation

A Foundation Program on the other hand, takes a considerably shorter period of time for completion compared to a Diploma. It typically takes only 1 year to complete a Foundation Program. For this reason, foundation is one of the fastest pathways to a Bachelor’s Degree, which appeals to many students.

3. What you will be Studying

  • Diploma

A Diploma is highly focused on industry specific skills in addition to theory, to prepare you for the working world. Most Diploma programs require you to complete an internship period before you can complete the program. 

Courses offered in a diploma are very specific and are designed to provide you with an in-depth understanding and practical skills for that specific field. Hence it is important for you to have decided which bachelor’s degree and career you want to go into in the future. 

  • Foundation

A Foundation Program offers you a broader course structure compared to a Diploma. Foundation Programs also are however, quite centered around general fields, such as Science or Arts. So for example if you know you want to pursue a course in the science field in the future, but you are unsure about which specific course in the science field you want, a Foundation in Science would be a recommended study pathway for you. 

That said, for students who want to pursue a specific course, there are also Foundation programs that are focused on specific courses such as Foundation in IT, Business or Architecture. 

4. Study Pathway

  • Diploma

Since a diploma takes a longer time to complete, and offers you more in-depth knowledge and industry specific practical skills, you can enter straight into the second year of a Bachelor’s Degree after completion of a diploma. 

You can also enter the workforce straight after graduation, as Diplomas are generally accepted by employers as a minimum level qualification for numerous jobs in every field out there. Hence, a diploma provides you with more options after graduation, compared to a foundation program. 

  • Foundation

In Contrast, a foundation program only allows you to progress onto a Bachelor’s Degree. Hence a foundation degree is a recommended option if you want to pursue a career in which having a degree is crucial to enter the workforce, such as psychology, law or medicine. 

5. Eligibility for PTPTN Loan

  • Diploma

All MQ Accredited diploma programs are eligible for PTPTN loans. A PTPTN loan is a preferred option by students facing financial constraints but want to continue their studies to achieve their dream careers. You can also apply for a PTPTN loan for your Bachelor’s Degree after completing your diploma. 

  • Foundation

Apart from foundation programs from selected universities, a foundation course is not eligible for a PTPTN loan. Hence, for a foundation program, if you have financial constraints, you will have to explore other options such as scholarships. 

For more information regarding different diploma options and foundation options you have, contact Excel Education. 

Why Should You Choose a Diploma?

Following is a list of reasons why you could consider a Diploma over a Foundation Program. 

  • If you are sure about the specific industry you want to pursue
  • If the industry you are interested in requires practical skills 
  • If you want to have the option of entering the workforce right after graduation
  • If you have financial constraints and want to apply for a PTPTN loan

For personalised counselling on whether a diploma is the right option for you, contact Excel Education. 

Why Should You Choose a Foundation Program?

Following is a list of reasons why you could consider a Foundation Program over a Diploma. 

  • If you want a faster pathway to university 
  • If you want broader options when you choose your Bachelor’s Degree
  • If your ultimate goal is to get a degree 
  • If your future career requires a Bachelor’s Degree to enter the workforce
  • If you are sure the foundation program is recognized by your future university.

If you are still unsure about whether to choose a diploma or a foundation program, or if you want to explore other pre-university program options, do not hesitate to contact us at Excel Education. 

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About The Author

Mariyam Naufa
I like to keep it simple. 
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