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

When graduates seeking admission to a top-up degree program contact me with inquiries about the possibility of achieving a first-class upon completing the HND/BSC conversion program, I understand their true concern.

In one guy's words, he asked, "Is it feasible to attain a distinction?"

Certainly, universities do not use the term "distinction"; instead, they refer to it as a "first class."

If you find yourself on this page, chances are you hold an HND or another BSC degree. Therefore, there is no need to spend time explaining the difference between the terms "distinction" and "first class."

If Better Grade is Your Goal, It's Achievable

Most HND and BSC holders aspire to upgrade their qualifications to a first-class standard. This is because the primary reason many people opt for a top-up or BSC/HND conversion in the first place is due to lower grades.

The job market is not particularly welcoming to individuals with previous lower credit grades, as it is to those with a distinction in their HND. Even with a pass or lower grade in a BSC degree, you may still encounter limited opportunities. First-class graduates tend to be favored.

Consequently, if you received a poor grade in your HND or one of your BSC degrees, you may consider pursuing a top-up degree to compensate for it and achieve first-class this time around.

Achieving a First Class with a Top-Up Degree is Possible

Similar to starting your degree from the 100 level working your way up to the 400 level, and subsequently earning the grade you rightfully deserve, you can also attain a first-class honor with a top-up degree if you are deserving of it. 

While it may be somewhat challenging for a polytechnic graduate with lower credit or a pass to attain a first class at the university level, it is not impossible. 

If you are willing to put in the effort, you can achieve that grade.

No Regulation Stops Universities From Awarding First Class

There is no rule or regulation that prevents universities that offer HND to BSC conversion programs from awarding first-class to deserving graduates. 

Your apprehension might stem from the misconception that there is such a rule. However, there is no such restriction in place. 

The fact that a university has not yet produced top-up graduates with first-class does not imply that it is prohibited. It simply means that they have not yet to have students capable of breaking that jinx.

Balancing Your Expectations

While it is possible to aim for a first-class, it should not be your sole focus. These universities understand why you are pursuing the conversion program in the first place. Therefore, they will likely provide support to help you achieve higher grades than what you initially bring in.

However, it is important to look beyond just grades, especially the first class. Attaining a second-class upper honor is still a commendable achievement, and even a second-class lower degree, without further elaboration, holds greater value than just an HND, even with a distinction. We both recognize this by now.


In the pursuit of academic excellence through top-up degree programs, the aspiration to achieve a first-class is both valid and achievable. While it may come with challenges, dedication, and effort can lead individuals to attain this academic pinnacle. 

It is essential to debunk myths and misconceptions surrounding top-up degrees and recognize that universities do not impose restrictions on awarding first-class distinctions. 

However, it is equally crucial to maintain a balanced perspective and acknowledge that academic success extends beyond grades alone. Ultimately, the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth should remain at the forefront of any educational journey.

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