Student Info & Guide

Why SPM Students are choosing Diplomas Over Degrees

by on March 1, 2016 | Top Stories

Why SPM Students are choosing Diplomas Over Degrees

Do you prefer to learn by doing rather than attending lectures? Do you want to enter the working world as soon as you can? Are you concerned you may not have enough funds to study a bachelor’s degree? Do you lack the required SPM credits for a pre-U programme? Your answer could be a diploma after SPM.

Just completed SPM? Before you decide on a pre-U programme like A-levels, STPM or foundation courses, you might want to give diploma programmes a second thought. Here’s why:

1. The entry requirements are less rigid

The general entry requirements for a diploma is a pass with three credits in SPM (with the exception of a nursing diploma which requires five credits). Some diplomas may have additional requirements – do check with the college you’re interested in.

2. Diplomas cost less

Let’s face it. Not everyone has the means to fork out funds for a bachelor’s degree. To acquire a bachelor’s degree, the pathway after SPM involves a pre-u qualification (50 credit hours) followed by 3-4 years of bachelor degree study (120 credit hours).

MQA’s Higher Education Qualifications, Education Levels and Minimum Number of Credits
Education Levels Higher Education Qualification Minimum credit required
for the award of qualification
8 Doctoral (by research) No given credit value
8 Doctoral Degree (by mixed mode or coursework) 80
7 Master degree (by research) No given credit value
7 Master degree (by mixed mode or coursework) 40
7 Postgraduate diploma 30
7 Postgraduate certificate 20
6 Bachelor degree 120
6 Graduate diploma 60
6 Graduate certificate 30
5 Advanced diploma 40
4 Diploma 90
3 Certificate 60
1-3 Skills certificate According to the skill and levels


In comparison, a diploma takes 2 to 2.5 years (min 90 credit hours) right after SPM. Diplomas cost way less than what a degree programme would – the course fees for a diploma programme ranges from RM20,000 – 40,000, with many courses falling in the range of RM25,000 – 35,000.

And like studying for a degree, you’d still be able to apply for a PTPTN loan. Find out how much loan you can get from PTPTN.

New PTPTN Loan Adjustment for Students - Infographic by

3. Diplomas make you ready for the job market

Unlike pre-university programmes that focus more on rigorous academic study, diploma programmes are designed to equip students with the necessary skills required to meet the job requirements in a particular industry. The curriculum often includes lots of hands-on work that allows you to practise these skills. You’ll be able to enter the workforce within your target industry right after you graduate.

Why SPM Students are choosing Diplomas Over Degrees

4. You’ll love it if you like practical work

As mentioned in the previous point, a diploma prepares you with the specific skills that you need in a target industry. Whether you choose graphic design, culinary arts, automotive technology or medical imaging, you would have completed plenty of practical training in the core area of your study by the time you graduate.

If you like more hands-on work and practical experience, you’ll enjoy the curriculum of a diploma course which is usually 60% academic and 40% practical.

5. You complete your studies sooner

If you choose the pre-U route after SPM followed by a bachelor’s degree, you’d take about 5-6 years to graduate. In contrast, a diploma generally takes 3 years, allowing you to enter the job market and begin earning sooner.

6. Your learning options are flexible

There’s probably no other study route that offers the flexibility of a diploma. Here are some awesome advantages:

First, unlike pre-U courses and degrees, diplomas don’t necessarily follow a rigid academic calendar. That means that intakes are open several times a year. If you miss an intake, you won’t have to wait too long for the next one.

Second, diploma programmes are offered in different study modes like distance learning, part-time, and full-time. That means that diplomas are not just for conventional students. You can choose to work and study, and you might have the chance to build up your contacts in the working world through your fellow classmates.

Third, when you come to the point where you feel you need to further your studies to improve your career opportunities, you’d be glad to know that many diplomas offer advanced standing status with many overseas universities that lead to a bachelor’s degree. Here’s your chance to earn a foreign degree at a much lower cost.

‘Advanced standing’ means that recognition (full or part) is given by a foreign university of a particular course pursued at a Malaysian institution (such as a diploma or year 1 or year 2 of a bachelor’s degree) that allows a student advanced entry into the foreign university’s degree programme. ‘Advance standing’ arrangements with universities from the UK, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and others have been developed by private colleges in Malaysia since the early 1980s.

Lastly, if your dream is to have a bachelor’s degree but you didn’t have sufficient credits after SPM, the diploma pathway allows you an alternative – you can skip the pre-U route and still qualify for admission to a bachelor’s degree after your diploma.

Are you excited yet? If you are, here are some examples of courses you could take at diploma level at private higher education institutions in Malaysia:

  • Accounting
  • Advertising & marketing communications
  • Advertising design
  • Agricultural management
  • Agricultural science
  • Aircraft maintenance engineering
  • Aircraft maintenance technology
  • Animation
  • Animation & multimedia design
  • Architectural design
  • Architectural technology
  • Automotive technology
  • Batik design
  • Biotechnology
  • Broadcast journalism
  • Broadcasting
  • Broadcasting & film
  • Business
  • Business administration
  • Business computing
  • Business information systems
  • Business management
  • Children performing arts
  • CNC precision technology
  • Computer engineering
  • Computer forensic
  • Computer science
  • Computer studies
  • Corporate communication
  • Creative multimedia
  • Culinary arts
  • Dental technology
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Digital 3D animation
  • Digital animation
  • Digital photography
  • Digital video
  • E-business
  • E-commerce
  • E-secretaryship
  • Early childhood education
  • Education (primary education)
  • Education (TESL)
  • Electrical & electronic engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Electro-mechanical engineering
  • Electronics & communication engineering
  • Engineering (materials science)
  • Engineering technology
  • English for professional communication
  • Entertainment arts
  • Entrepreneurial design
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental health
  • Event management
  • Fashion
  • Fashion & apparel design
  • Fashion & retail design
  • Fashion design
  • Fashion design & pattern making
  • Finance
  • Fine art
  • Food science & technology
  • Games art
  • Games design & animation
  • Geomatic engineering
  • Graphic design
  • Halal management & food safety
  • Health informatics
  • Health information management
  • Healthcare
  • Higher education studies
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Hotel management
  • Human capital management
  • Human resource management
  • Illustration
  • Industrial design
  • Industrial electronics
  • Information & communications technology
  • Information technology
  • Interactive & multimedia design
  • Interior architecture
  • Interior design
  • International hotel & tourism management
  • Investment management
  • Islamic banking
  • Islamic finance
  • Islamic medical practice
  • Islamic studies with education
  • Journalism
  • Landscape architecture
  • Law
  • Leisure & outdoor management
  • Logistics management
  • Management
  • Marine engineering
  • Maritime transportation management
  • Marketing
  • Mass communication
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Mechatronics
  • Medical assistant
  • Medical imaging
  • Medical laboratory technology
  • Medical sciences
  • Montessori pedagogy
  • Motorsport technology
  • Multimedia application
  • Multimedia design
  • Music
  • Nautical studies
  • Network & mobile technology
  • Network security
  • Network technology
  • Nursing
  • Occupational safety & health
  • Occupational therapy
  • Office management
  • Packaging design & technology
  • Paramedic science
  • Patisserie
  • Pharmacy
  • Photography
  • Physiotherapy
  • Port management
  • Product design
  • Product design and manufacturing
  • Production technology
  • Psychology
  • Public relations
  • Quantity surveying
  • Restaurant management
  • Retail management
  • Sales & marketing
  • Shipping management
  • Software engineering
  • Sound & music technology
  • Spa management
  • Sports management
  • Telecommunication technology
  • Telecommunications & computer engineering
  • Textile & fashion design
  • Tourism management
  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • Visual communication

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Education Guide Malaysia 14th Ed.Source: Education Guide Malaysia 14th Ed.

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