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June 30, 2022

What is the difference between a graduate and a bachelor’s degree?


When you know what you want to do in life, working out just how to achieve that goal can be daunting. A great place to start is thinking about the individual steppingstones of study that could lead you directly to that end goal. Universities offer these steppingstones in the form of different degree subjects and levels. Getting to grips with these can make hopping your way to success much easier.


What’s the difference between a graduate and an undergraduate degree? 

Once you’ve finished your A-levels (or the equivalent), if you wish to continue your studies, the first step in Higher Education is the undergraduate degree. You can attend a university for this, and it usually takes three or four years (though an undergraduate medical degree takes longer).

The most common types of undergraduate degrees are the Bachelor's and the Honours. A bachelor's degree provides you with a solid, industry-ready foundation in your chosen subject. Here is a guide on how to choose the right bachelor’s degree. Once you've passed your coursework, exams, and dissertation, you will receive the relevant qualification. Depending on your subject, this will be a Bachelor of Science (BSc), a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or a Bachelor of Medicine (MB).

Though still an undergraduate course, an Honours degree builds upon a bachelor's and requires a higher level of achievement. You must complete 360 credits during your Honours’ studies (60 more than you need to qualify for a bachelor’s).

A graduate degree is one of the next Higher Education study steps you can take after completing an undergraduate degree. It is an advanced degree that allows you to specialize in the field of your undergraduate study.

What is a graduate degree? 


Also known as a postgraduate degree, a graduate degree is usually completed at a university, but it doesn’t have to be the same university you attended for your undergraduate studies. Graduate degrees are helpful if your career plan involves moving into a specialist field.

There are several types of graduate degrees, including:

  • Master's degrees 

    Take up to two years and focus on a specific area of research. It involves more independent study and less staff interaction.

  • Postgraduate diplomas 

    Involve writing a dissertation in your chosen field. They are shorter than a Master's degree (by a third).

  • Postgraduate Certificates 

    These allow you to broaden your knowledge on a specialized subject without writing a dissertation. They are equivalent to one-third of a Master's degree.

  • Doctorate degrees 

The most advanced level of study involving a significant body of research. This can take up to four years, full time, and upon completion, you earn the right to refer to yourself as doctor.

Understanding your degree journey 

There’s a lot to consider when you’re plotting your study path. You need to consider the timeframes involved, and for many, the fees are a significant consideration. Understanding the difference between a graduate and a bachelor's degree courses, will ensure you're fully informed when it comes to organizing your career "master plan".

Here are the key differences between the two to help you understand your options:

Duration of Programme

  • Bachelor’s degrees take three or four years; full time.
  • Graduate degrees take between two and three years; full time.

Fees *based upon ADU 2022 fees

  • Bachelor's degree costs between 21,600 and 30,260 AED per semester.
  • Graduate degree costs between 15,904 and 27,720 AED per semester, with PG Diplomas in teaching costing 8,640 AED per semester.

Career Levels

  • Bachelor’s degrees make it easier to step into entry- and mid-level positions in many fields of work.
  • Graduate degrees offer a higher earning potential than bachelor's, helping you secure a job in a specialist field or a senior position.

Range of Subjects

  • Bachelor’s degree subjects are broader, falling under categories like science, art, business, medicine and engineering.
  • Graduate degrees offer more subject choices since they cover specialist areas within the broader subject categories.


Making the big decisions 

Once you’ve considered the best study options for you and understand the time frames and fees involved, you need to pick a university that will best support you on your journey and meet your study expectations.

Students at Abu Dhabi University are drawn to the excellent credentials of this institution, which is ranked top in the UAE and sat within the top 2.8% in the world in 2018. International students enjoy the cultural buzz (over a third of students are international), and all students appreciate the diverse range of programmes, and the multi-campus style of ADU.

With an over 84% undergraduate retention rate, it's clear for prospective students to see that ADU takes a student-centered nurturing approach. With a focus on technology-enhanced research, ADU is driven to change society for the better by helping students become strong, confident graduates, leaders and innovators. Learn how to apply now.



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