Is a Diploma the Same as a Degree?

2 weeks ago
Girl holding certificate with text Diploma Vs Degree Malta. Guide.

Diploma Vs Degree: In the world of education, it’s crucial to understand the difference between a diploma and a bachelor’s degree, particularly within the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF). While both are valuable qualifications, they differ in structure, duration, and career impact. 

This article will explore how a Level 5 diploma compares to a bachelor’s degree, why pursuing a diploma can be a smart choice, and how it fits into Malta’s MQF system.The Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) categorises qualifications across eight levels based on their difficulty, study hours required, and content:

Diploma Vs Degree Malta | What's the difference? MQF Framework

These levels align with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) to ensure international recognition and understanding of Malta’s qualifications.

MQF Level 5 Diplomas vs. Degrees

– MQF Level 5 Diploma (120 Credits)  / UK level 4 & 5 diplomas (240 RQF credits):

An MQF Level 5 diploma (Undergraduate Diploma) is equivalent to the first two years of a Bachelor’s degree programme or a UK level 4 (120 RQF Credits) and 5 diploma (120 RQF Credits).

Typically a diploma can be completed in 10-15 months, providing practical and theoretical knowledge. Students can complete the course faster or slower than the average depending on factors such as background knowledge, learning speed, learning hours per week.

– MQF Level 6 Bachelor’s Degrees (180 Credits):

A full bachelor’s degree program usually requires 3-4 years and requires a total of an additional 180 credits on top of a Level 5 diploma (120 credits) for a total of 300 ECTS (credits). A bachelor’s degree provides a higher level of education as it takes longer to complete and requires more credits. 

Bachelor degrees are considered superior to diplomas in level. While applicants with a bachelor’s degree do take the edge in terms of compensation packages and level of positions it’s important to note that completing a level 6 programme first requires obtaining the necessary credits to qualify for a level 5.  

Why Choose a Diploma at Level 5?

A Level 5 diploma in Malta is often considered a smart option for students and working professionals:

Cost-Effective: Financially, diplomas offer a cost effective education pathway. Typically priced at €3,300, with a flexible payment plan of €220 per month. 

Time-Saving: Takes less time than a degree, making it ideal for those seeking quick career advancement.

Pathway to a Degree: After completing a Level 5 diploma, students can opt for a one-year “top-up” programme, leading directly to a Level 6 bachelor’s degree.

The Top-Up Pathway to a Bachelor’s Degree

A diploma doesn’t just stop at Level 5. With Elephant & Cross’s network of pathway universities, you can transition seamlessly to a bachelor’s degree.

Students with a level 5 online diploma will be accepted unconditionally to complete a one-year top-up programme that builds on your diploma.This path provides a more flexible, efficient route to achieving a full degree, reducing the time and cost typically associated with a bachelor’s programme.


While a diploma isn’t the same as a degree, it offers a quicker, more cost-effective way to obtain valuable skills and credentials. 

Malta’s MQF framework provides a transparent structure that supports lifelong learning. A Level 5 diploma can be your gateway to a rewarding career or further academic success through a top-up program, leading to a bachelor’s degree in just one additional year.

Check out some of our diplomas here. Or contact us at and a Course Advisor will be happy to assist you with your education needs. 

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