Diploma, Bachelor, Master’s & PhD: Who Can Study?

When it comes to pursuing higher education at a college or university, there are two things to keep in mind: entry requirements and career goals. But with a variety of academic degree levels, which one should you actually choose? Below is a guide we have put together specifically for Malaysian candidates.

The Basic Info of Diploma Programme - Unitar Malaysia

Who Should Take a Diploma?

Diploma programmes are designed for candidates who want to work in vocational industries such as culinary arts and animation design. Diplomas also include theoretical and practical-based courses like early childhood education, accounting and business administration. Generally, diploma courses appeal to SPM school leavers and work professionals for several reasons.

Why Do You Need a Diploma?

Students who did not do well in their SPM examination while scoring 3 or 4 credits can consider applying for a diploma course. The course is typically 2 to 3 years of study. Compared to a bachelor’s degree programme, the duration is shorter for a diploma course which will allow you to graduate earlier. You can gain work experience ahead of others while saving up to study at a university later. By then, you’re likely to know what bachelor’s degree you should pursue after working for a while. But take note that diploma graduates are mainly assigned to entry-level jobs.

While diplomas are commonly made up of secondary school leavers, the programme also extends to cater to working adults (more than 20 years of age). For example, if you want to upskill as part of your current job’s requirement, or if you’re looking for a career switch, you can apply for a diploma programme via APEL.

The Basic Info of Bachelor Degree Programme - Unitar Malaysia

Who Should Take a Bachelor’s Degree?

Bachelor degrees are undergraduate degrees in which students choose a subject to study at a higher education institution. In Malaysia, students who have undergone a diploma, foundation, matriculation or pre-university programmes including STPM and STAM are eligible to enrol in a bachelor’s degree programme. Alternatively, there are bachelor programmes that allow working professionals to enrol via APEL to make up for the previous lack of tertiary qualification.

Why Do You Need a Bachelor Degree?

A bachelor’s degree programme is usually around 3 or 4 years of study, with the exception of medical-related bachelor degrees extending to 5 years or above. Getting a bachelor’s degree fulfils the standard academic requirement at any company when applying for entry and mid-level jobs. It also exposes students to new ideas and approaches as well as developing transferable skills such as presentation skills, research skills, teamwork, time management and problem-solving.

The Basic Info of Masters Programme - Unitar Malaysia

Who Should Take a Master’s?

Master programmes are the next step for those who have completed their undergraduate studies. Candidates who usually enrol for their master’s want to further specialise based on what they studied in their bachelor degrees. For instance, someone who graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Hons) may want to undertake a Master of Education (Guidance & Counselling) next to specialise a particular field in education.

Why Should You Get a Master’s Degree?

People who are pursuing a master’s degree will typically graduate after 1 or 2 years of study, which is good news to those who want to start or resume their career quickly. It’s around the same programme duration as diplomas but typically shorter than bachelor and doctorate programmes. Even though the study period is short, it can be intensive and demanding as you’re now required to write and conduct research on a postgraduate level. Those who have graduated with a master’s degree may have the potential of earning a higher salary or getting a job promotion compared to undergraduate degree holders. You can enrol into a master’s programme after obtaining your bachelor’s degree or apply through APEL, where you can convert your work experience into credits when enrolling.

The Basic Info of PhD Programme - Unitar Malaysia

Who Should Take a PhD?

The final tertiary level would be PhD programmes. Individuals who hold a bachelor honours degree or a master’s degree can apply for a PhD study. Even if your bachelor’s degree is in business administration, you can still pursue the same subject on a PhD level.

Why Should You Get a PhD?

If you enjoyed the research vigour in your master’s and have a great interest in further specialising in the research field of your choice, getting a PhD is the way to go. Not only will you acquire a greater depth of knowledge in your chosen area, but it will no doubt impress your employers or job interviewers. Essentially, being a PhD holder makes you the “expert” in your field, which may land you in a leadership role or any top-ranking position at your organisation. Academic institutions, as well as STEM and non-STEM industries, welcome PhD graduates to contribute their expertise in their respective fields.

However, there is a subtle difference between a PhD and a doctorate programme. A PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degree is within the doctorate category, which awards graduates with a research degree to pursue academic career paths, while a doctorate degree is aimed to specialise in a subject in theory and practice. For example, UNITAR’s new online DBA (Doctor in Business Administration) is a doctorate degree that’s the first fully online DBA programme in Malaysia.

If you’re unsure of what you should study at the university of your choice, consider your current life circumstances and what you want the degree to ultimately do for you. Possessing a tertiary qualification is without a doubt advantageous in terms of career and personal growth. Schedule an appointment with an academic counsellor today! Request info at UNITAR International University.

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