Top-Up Degree or PGD/MSC? Which One is Better?

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A few things had been pointed out in my recent posts. Some of these posts were meant to help you decide whether you should go for a top-up degree or postgraduate studies. Below is a list of a few of such. 

  1. After NYSC What Next? MSC, Jobs or Business (Self-Employment)
  2. Top-Up Degree or Direct Entry, Which is Better?
  3. After Completing HND, What Next?
  4. MSC vs Professional Course: The Better, the Cheaper, the Faster
  5. 6 Ways to Convert HND Courses to Education (Teacher/Lecturer)

If you're interested in any of the posts, you can read them first before returning here to complete the rest of this piece. You can also read this post, to the end, first. Then, come back to the links and see what the posts have in stock for you.

A few of these posts had already given some insights into making choices among certain available academic programmes after your HND or BSC.

But here, in deep, we're going to look into what will be the better take between a top-up degree and a postgraduate diploma (PGD) or MSC.

Before we dive in, let's get the basics off the way, in case you're confused.

What's a Top-Up Degree Programme?

This is usually a two-year to a three-year course that will convert your HND to BSC or make up for your poor HND grade. It can also be used to convert your BSC to another BSC or to have a better grade.

Top-up degrees are usually run on a part-time or distance learning basis. And for some universities e.g. DELSU, UNIABUJA, etc. on a full-time basis.

A top-up degree is typically for individuals who have completed a higher national diploma (HND) or a foundation degree and wish to obtain an honors degree. It is a shorter and more affordable option than pursuing a full undergraduate degree. It is suitable for individuals who are already employed and need to improve their qualifications for career advancement or change.

What's a Postgraduate Programme?

This is equally an after-HND/BSC programme that will give you additional qualifications with your base study. 

With a postgraduate course, you can go for the same or similar to (the one you had in HND/BSC) or you may change the course as the policy of the proposed university may permit it.

RecommendedDifferences Between Degrees: Undergraduate and Postgraduate

Which of the Top-Up Degree and PGD is Better?

While deciding which to go for, there is a need to emphasize that both have certain advantages over each other.

For example, if you elect a top-up degree, you can make up for a poor grade from your last HND or BSC. If you work for it, you may merit the first class at the end of your course and leave behind the poor lower credit, 2nd class lower, third class, or pass you had in the past.

You can also change from a less-marketable course to a course widely demanded.

With PGD, you've augmented your standard over BSC/HND holders. This may broaden the chance of getting a job faster and if you secure one, get higher pay than others without postgraduate studies.

A PGD or MSc is a postgraduate qualification that requires a bachelor's degree for admission. It is a higher-level qualification that offers advanced skills and knowledge in a particular field. A PGD or MSc is suitable for individuals who want to specialize in a particular field, enhance their career prospects, or pursue a career in academia.

RecommendedCan I Get First Class With a Top-Up Degree?

If I Must Make a Choice Between PGD and a Top-Up Degree

I will of course prefer top-up first, then followed by PGD. Why?

For one reason, not all universities are accepting HND holders for their postgraduate courses e.g. PGD, MSC. A few, that accept HND will usually limit it to certain courses

In fact, very many HND holders who go for PGD straight will usually end up with education courses. For example, some will go for the National Teachers Institute (NTI) which obviously will upgrade them to become teachers. They may be forced to settle for less competitive part-time or distance learning proreammes such as the National Open University. This is because not all universities will take Higher National Diplomas (HND) for all their postgraduate courses.

And if by any means, you're able to run MSC/PGD with your HND, even in any postgraduate school, or in those universities that give it to limited courses, you're still under tense competition with BSC holders who have the same PGD/MSC.

What I meant there was that your prospective employer (especially private establishments) would still want to consider BSC plus PGD/MSC before giving a look at HND plus PGD/MSC.

Even at the federal level, the discrimination between the two qualifications, even among postgraduate holders, had not been fully neutralized. That was why I wrote, "Abolishing HND and BSC Dichotomy: Latest Developments You Must Know"


If you're in a country where things truly work, adding a postgraduate diploma (PGD) to your HND should be the right take. And in fact, with a Master's degree will be the best without question. This has worked and still working in some countries recently reported. In fact, some Nigerians with HND had been reported to have obtained Ph.D. without any PGD/MSC in countries like the United States

As for our dear Nigeria, in the time being, though it may take more time than you'd wanted, to me, topping up your HND to BSC before you go for PGD/MSC will save you from some future discrimination and career embarrassment.

Deciding which is better depends on your career goals and personal circumstances. If you already have an HND or foundation degree and wish to obtain an honors degree, a top-up degree may be the more practical and affordable option. However, if you want to specialize in a particular field or pursue a career in academia, a PGD or MSc may be a better option.

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