Diploma courses in the USA

A bachelor’s degree isn’t the only option for international students pursuing undergraduate education in the United States. There are multiple ways to advance one’s education or kickstart a career without finishing a four-year course. Some of the most viable options are the different diploma courses in the USA. This short-term course equips students with specialised knowledge and skills in a certain field or occupation.

In this guide, we’ll delve into all aspects of  USA diploma courses: what they are, how they differ from similar programs, why it’s a great education option and how to choose the right course. We’ll also highlight some of the top diploma courses in the USA for international students.


What are diploma courses?

A US diploma course is a post-secondary program that’s focused on a specific subject and is designed to equip students with the practical and technical know-how needed to work in their field of interest.

This short-term course usually takes two years and comes with a mix of classes and hands-on experiences (e.g. internships or externships). It’s mostly given by colleges and technical schools, rather than universities and other professional institutions (i.e. companies).

Certificate vs. degree vs. diploma

When it comes to post-secondary credentials, the three main choices are a certificate, degree or diploma. Each one has its pros and cons, along with its own set of requirements. Here’s a quick overview of the differences among the three.

A certificate is awarded to students who finish a short-term course on a specific topic or skill. This usually lasts between a couple of months to a few years. It can also be taken at the same time with a diploma program or a bachelor’s degree.

A degree is conferred to students who complete a baccalaureate program that runs between three to six years. These are intensive programs made up of courses in various subjects (including general education), ultimately concurring in a specialisation in an area of interest.

A diploma falls in between a certificate and a degree. Like a certificate course, a diploma program tackles a specific subject, but it comes with more coursework and has a longer completion period. That said, it’s not as heavy and it doesn’t take as long to finish as a degree.


Why should students take a diploma course?

Taking a diploma course is ideal for students who would like to get into the workforce quickly since it’s shorter than completing a degree. Despite its shorter duration, a diploma course provides students with the needed knowledge and skills to perform effectively in their chosen careers. It’s similar to intermediate-level training. Plus, can help them qualify for tons of well-paying jobs just two years after graduating from Year 12.

A diploma course essentially prepares one to get a specific job, thus giving them an edge over other job seekers who may have lower qualifications coming into the field.


Choosing the right diploma program

Here are some tips that you can give to help students choose the right diploma program for them:

Think about the future

The right diploma program will be the one that will take students a step further toward their goals and aspirations in life. They should ask themselves questions like:

  • What do I like doing?
  • What am I good at?
  • What career do I see myself in?

Once they dig deep, they can narrow down their choices and find the program that will propel them in the right direction.

Do some research

The same diploma program may be offered by different institutions. So it’s best to do some research to determine which one would best cater to one’s goals. They should consider factors like enrolment requirements, school reputation, curriculum, etc.

Find support

Students don’t have to make all their diploma-related decisions on their own. They can seek support from family, friends or trusted experts like recruitment partners to help them explore their choices and pick the most suitable diploma program.


Diploma courses to consider

Here are some of the best diploma courses for international students in the USA:

Diploma in project management

A diploma in project management teaches students how to manage projects in a variety of contexts. It imparts a practical understanding of project scope, development, timing and costs, integration, governance, human resources, information and communication, stakeholder engagement and risk management.

Diploma in business management

A diploma in business management can provide a deeper understanding of how businesses operate. It gives an overview of company structures, organisational functions, business environments, business management ethics and entrepreneurship.

Diploma in engineering

A diploma in engineering may fast-track learning in the field. It may also provide a specialisation in a certain branch (e.g. civil, electrical, environmental, etc.). It’s designed to equip students with broad knowledge of the industry, which they can use directly in an entry-level position or use as a foundation for further study.

Diploma in food technology

A diploma in food technology develops one’s understanding of food science and food technology. One can use this knowledge to get into a food research career or even start their own food business. Topics of this course include food chemistry and microbiology, food processing, food engineering, human nutrition, food safety and food marketing.

Diploma in digital marketing

A diploma in digital marketing is suitable for students who want to pursue a career as a digital marketing manager, social media manager, search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist, content marketer, email marketer, etc. The program covers a range of topics in online marketing. This includes SEO, social media marketing, digital advertising, content marketing and email marketing.

Diploma in events management

A diploma in event management will equip students with the skills needed to execute different events. It’s designed to help one develop good business practices, know how to manage large-scale cultural and social activities, apply the art of events promotion and build awareness of legal requirements and logistical issues.


Explore diploma programs with GSP

Getting a diploma is a great alternative to a certificate or a bachelor’s degree. Admission requirements are low, tuition is fairly affordable and one gets to graduate with a specialised set of know-how that can be used to jumpstart a career or supplement further studies.

Explore US diploma courses by checking out the upGrad GSP app or speaking with one of our dedicated business development experts!

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