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A diploma (from Greek δίπλωµα. díplōma, meaning "folded paper") is a certificate or deed issued by an educational institution, such as a university, that testifies that the recipient has successfully completed a particular course of study or confers an academic degree. In countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, the word diploma refers to a level of academic award. The words diplomat and diplomacy have the same origin, from the official "folded papers" of accreditation delivered by ambassadors or delegates.
In some countries, such as the UK and Australia, such a document can be called a testimonium or testamur, Latin for "we testify" or "certify" (testari), and so called from the word with which the certificate begins. In Ireland, it is generally called a parchment. The certificate that a Nobel laureate receives is also called a diploma.
The term diploma is also used in some historical contexts, to refer to documents signed by a King affirming a grant or tenure of specified land and its conditions (see Anglo-Saxon Charters and Diplomatics).
Diploma styles 
Originally, diplomas were made of thin Italian sheepskin, as paper wasn't economically viable to create because of the lack of skilled workers since the fall of Carthage (famous for its paper) to Rome, and also because it was extremely delicate at that time, with the exception of Carthaginian paper of course.[when?] The entire diploma was written by hand because of the lack of economically viable printing presses, as at the time templates would have been carved out of limestone tablets, and since the fall of the Egyptian empire there had been very few skilled workers in the carving of limestone. Soon, parchment entered use for the diploma in many places but most notably, first at Mexico City College in May, 1949[dubious ], later the diploma became bound in leather.
Diplomas used to be printed on large paper, but it has become common to print diplomas on standard letter or A4 size paper, except for most educational institutions in the north of France which issue diplomas on A3 size paper or larger.[dubious ] The University of Malta also still issues diplomas and degrees on A3 size paper or larger.
- In the U.S., the word diploma usually refers to the actual document received at the end of high school, undergraduate studies, or graduate/professional school. This can lead to some confusion when persons who obtained a degree in the USA are presenting their academic credentials in other countries (see below).
- It also can refer to a specific academic award. An example is in the field of Nursing where the Diploma in Nursing was offered by hospital based schools.
- In Australia, a diploma can mean one of three things: the older usage is of an advanced level course done in the vocational education and training sector or university academically equivalent to some years of a bachelor degree but giving a similar professional status and position as a degree; a Graduate Diploma, which is undertaken after completing a degree but at undergraduate level in a field other than that covered by the degree (e.g., the Graduate Diploma of Education necessary to become a school teacher in most Australian states); and a Postgraduate Diploma, a coursework-only qualification which is undertaken as additional study in a specialisation within one's degree area. The course itself and the certification are referred to as a "diploma" in Australian English.
- In India, a diploma is a specific academic award usually earned in professional/vocational courses, e.g., Engineering, Pharmacy, Design, etc. In such cases, a diploma is specific in rank than a Bachelor's degree of that discipline but equivalent to general degree in that discipline, e.g., Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering is rated differently than Bachelor of Technology in Electronics Engineering but is equivalent to Bachelor of Science in Electronics. Also diploma is concentrated for the area of study, e.g., Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering may be in Advanced Communication Systems (ACS) or Integrated Circuits (IC) or Industrial Electronics (IE). On successful completion of Parts I and II Technician Examination of Institution of Mechanical Engineers, it is equivalent to Diploma in Mechanical Engineering as per a government of India circular.
- In Pakistan, a Diploma is a specific academic award usually earned in professional/vocational courses e.g. Engineering, Nursing, Fashion, etc. In such cases, a dipelor's degree of that discipline. As diploma studies started on vocational route of study after school for three years, the Bachelor of Technology is the logical next degree for diploma graduates. Also Diploma is concentrated for the area of study, e.g., Diploma in Engineering of Electronics Engineering or Industrial Electronics, Civil Engineering. Graduates of Diplomas work as associates to Engineers and are often called Associate Engineers. Few Postgraduate Diploma or PGD are ranked higher than the Bachelor degree as they are completed after graduation. These are normally a year's worth of coursework after a university degree.
- In Ireland, a National Diploma was awarded before 2004. It was at the same level as the ordinary Bachelor's degree and below the honours Bachelor's degree, whilst the Higher Diploma is taken after the Bachelor's degree.
- In Germany, Ukraine, Serbia, Hungary and other countries that adopted the German academic education system, diploma (in German Diplom) is the standard academic degree, needing at least 3.5 years to complete it, being comparable with a Bachelor's and Master's degree in one.
- In Greece, diplomas can be awarded by educational institutes as a proof of a certain educational level. Diploma in engineering is a high award provided by Greek technical universities after the successful completion of a five-year programme and is equivalent to British bachelor and master of engineering.
- In Hong Kong, advanced diploma, higher diploma and associate degree are below the standard of the honours bachelor's degree. Certificate (not to be confused with postgraduate certificate) and diploma are below the standard of advanced diploma, higher diploma and associate degree. Postgraduate Certificates and Postgraduate Diplomas are taken after the bachelor degree, and are more vocational oriented than a master's degree.
- In Ontario, Canada, diplomas are awarded by colleges of applied arts and technology whereas bachelor degrees are awarded by universities. In Canada, depending on the provincial legislation, there may be a subtle difference between a college and a university.
- In the Kingdom of Spain, university diplomas are issued in the name of the King. As such, they are Public Official documents, strictly regulated and protected by the law. They are internationally recognized by the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961.
- In Mexico and other Latin American countries, a diploma may be awarded for short courses of vocational training. The university-issued diplomas finalizing higher education are most often called título (title) or certificado (certificate).
- The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is a pre-university qualification normally taken by students in the final two years of high school.
- In the UK, diploma can refer to several different types of academic qualification. The Diploma of Higher Education is a higher education award below the standard of a bachelor's degree. The term can also refer to a Postgraduate Diploma or to the 14–19 Diploma that was introduced in England in September 2008. Postgraduate Diploma award is higher than the Bachelor's degree.
See also 
- Bachelor Degree
- Bologna process
- Certificate (disambiguation)
- Diploma de Estudios Avanzados
- Diploma mill
- Diploma of Biblical Studies
- Diploma of Education
- Diploma of Imperial College
- Diploma of Journalism
- Diploma in Computer Science
- Diploma in Engineering
- High school diploma
- Postgraduate Diploma in Education
- Professional Graduate Diploma in Education
- "International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme". Retrieved 2007-05-08.