Top-Up Degree or Direct Entry, Which is Better?

I've guardedly talked about Top-up degree in a few posts on this blog. I won't deny the fact that most of my posts on Direct entry admissions are doing as well. As a result, my readers had been dropping questions that need to be attended to.

  1. Should I go for a Top-Up Degree or Direct Entry?
  2. Is it better to consider HND to BSC conversion programmes after HND or I should wait until I can secure admission through Direct entry after my ND?
  3. Is a Top-Up degree limited in any way compared to starting at the 200 level through Direct Entry?

Anyway, this post will carefully break things down. By the time we come to the very last word, we will both decide if HND to BSC conversion will be better off or otherwise.

Let's get the basics first.

Basics of the Top-Up Degree and Direct Entry 

A Top-up degree (also called the HND to BSC conversion programme) is usually a course designed by certain universities to upgrade Higher National Diploma (HND) to Bachelor's Degree (BSC).

It's usually a 2-3 year course with each year consisting of two sessions. And of course, it's majorly run on a part-time basis thereby allowing you to work while still studying.

Top-up application forms can be obtained by HND or BSC holders. As for the HND holders, they use it to upgrade their qualifications to BSC and if they have poor grades at HND, they can mend up during the Top-up courses. For the BSC holders, a top-up course is a means to have a degree in a different course. They can upgrade grades with it too.

Direct Entry is an admission process that allows holders of BSC, HND, ND, NCE, ATS, AIB, NABTEB A'level, Cambridge A'level, IJMB, JUEB, and more to continue their studies at the 200 or 300 level of their related courses. Hence, you're to spend another 2 or 3 years to complete your BSC here too.

This, of course, is administered by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

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Why You Should Consider a Top-Up Degree Over Direct Entry and Vice Versa

It can get confusing to decide which of the two mediums to acquire BSC in your interest course. Considering a few factors below, you should be better off in deciding if you should consider Direct Entry over HND to BSC conversion programme.

1. NYSC is Not Allowed After Top-Up Degree

One of the reasons most people go to school is to serve the nation through NYSC after their years in school. I'm sure you're aware of this. In fact, a few Nigerian graduates believe if you don't serve, you're a fake graduate or have related notions.

Anyway, if you're done with HND and you want to upgrade to BSC using HND to BSC conversion course, you're not eligible to serve at NYSC after the programme. 

In fact, one of the prerequisites or requirements to obtaining a Top-Up degree form is NYSC discharged certificate or Exemption/Exclusion certificate. This is because as an HND or a BSC holder, you're expected to have served before you make the move to obtain a top-up degree form. And since it's not legally allowed to serve at NYSC more than once, you shouldn't expect to be mobilized after your top-up course.

Whereas, if you consider a Direct Entry form after your HND or BSC, and that's done without NYSC, you can be mobilized after your BSC. However, if you have served before obtaining the Direct Entry form, you won't be mobilized for NYSC. Another factor that may limit you from serving, even if you've not served, is age (if you're above 30 in the year of graduation).

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2. Top-Up Degree May Not Be as Economical

Of course, obtaining a direct entry form will give you admission into the 200 or 300 level of your proposed course (depending on the policy of the university). There, you will resume as a freshman who will be billed like other freshers. If you're lucky to be offered admission by a federal university, you're likely to spend less in your year 1 and the subsequent years. A few federal universities are charging less than N100,000 which is the average tuition.

On the other hand, the top-up degree is more financially demanding. You pay close to N250,000 or more per session for the next two or three years (depending on the university's top-up duration). 

Although a top-up degree may allow you to still be working while studying and as a result able to raise the money much more conveniently. Yet, the financial aspect should be given some thought.

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3. Direct Entry Admission is on Full-Time

As an HND or BSC holder who wishes to further his or her study, you may want to do that on a part-time basis. If that's your take, DE is not the best chase. Gaining admission through DE will give you admission on a full-time basis.

However, Top-up degrees, generally, are run during weekends which may be suitable if you want the part-time approach.

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4. Top-Up Degree is not Meant For ND and NCE Holders

The direct entry option is the only take for you if you're, right now, an ND or NCE holder. You will be considered for the 200 level of your course or a related one if admitted. If you're done in three years, you're set for the national service without limitation of any kind except if overaged.

As an HND or NCE holder, you're not eligible to obtain the To-Up degree form. Only the HND and BSC holders are eligible.

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5. Long Waiting For Direct Entry Admission May Be Worth it for ND/NCE Holders

One of the reasons ND holders decide to go for HND is the difficulty in gaining admission through Direct Entry. But it's worth it after all. 

Especially if you have a good grade; such as distinction or upper credit, sooner or later, your DE admission processing will favor you. The waiting maybe two or three years. Yet, it's better than proceeding to HND to spend two years, then later spend three or two years for a Top-up degree. It's a waste of more time!

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6. Poor Grade is not a Limitation for Top-Up Degree

One of the core purposes of starting a top-up degree by these universities was to help graduates with poor grades such as pass or lower grades to mend things up during the top-up course. Hence, the least acceptable grade for HND/BSC conversion course is PASS.

However, to be admitted through Direct Entry, even with your HND and BSC, some universities will still insist on better grades such as first-class, distinction, and second-class upper or upper credit.

Although HND/BSC with a better grade will give you an edge over competing candidates who have ND, NCE, IJMB, etc. In fact, a few universities may consider you for the 300 level of these courses instead of the 200 level.

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Even to this end, I can't possibly decide for you which one you should consider. Rather, you should check through the conditions established in this post and see where you stand. It's after that, you will be able to personally decide which one is better for you.

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  1. Good evening sir,

    Please if I may ask what are the limitations of having a top-up degree?

    Does this top-up degree come with Hons?

    Thanks with regards.

    1. None that I know of for now. You won't be able to go to NYSC.

  2. Good morning sir, Please sir I want you to help find out a reliable answers to the above question by jerry please🙏🏼 you know is a lifetime result that we don't joke with.
    Also please I want to ask can the result be used for masters degree and hope their won't be any dichotomy like HND in the future? Because we are facing a lot been an HND graduate.thank you

    1. No limitation to having Top-Up degree in the real sense of it. It's just like direct entry admission into 300 level with which you will need 2 years to earn a degree.

      As for the its acceptance, it's acceptable for any advanced programme, jobs etc.

      I don't even thing any university does indicate, on their certificate, that you're holding a degree with top-up. Hence, you degree is the same as the degree of their regular candidates.

  3. Sir you said that after applying for Direct entry as an ND holder you'll wait for 2-3 years again before gaining admission...This is not good Enough
    ..When I apply they will just give admission to 200 level ones

    1. Maybe a misunderstanding. What I stated was that if you want to go for HND, you wait or do your IT for 1 year before you can apply. For Direct Entry, you don't need to wait.

  4. Good evening sir
    Can I apply for direct entry with lower credit (2.88) to university ?

    1. Yes, but such universities and courses must be very less competitive.

  5. Good evening sir, Is the top-up programme form is still on?
    And, is it possible for HND holder in accountancy to apply for Economics?

    1. To know if any university still has the form on, check the post below and follow their links.

  6. Does Coren accept top up degree?

    1. I don't have this update. You can enquire from COREN directly.

  7. Good morning sir. Please which one would you suggest for an HND up degree or PGD?


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