AskDefine | Define diplomas

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  1. Plural of diploma

Extensive Definition

A diploma (from Greek δίπλωµα diploma, 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 U.K. and Australia, the word diploma refers to a level of academic award (see below).
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, such a document is 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.

Past diploma styles

Diplomas were originally made of sheepskin, as paper was not very durable and was difficult to create. The sheepskin was made paper thin and information was handwritten. Soon, parchment was used for the diploma and at the turn of the 20th century, the diploma became bound in leather.
Diplomas used to be quite large, but it has become common to print diplomas on standard letter or A4 size paper.

As an academic award

  • In the U.S., the word diploma usually refers to the actual document received at the end of higher education. It also can refer to a specific academic award. An example would be in the field of Nursing where the Diploma in Nursing was offered by hospital based schools. In other parts of the world, diploma often refers to the actual education or is some indication of the amount of time spent in study.
  • In some countries, such as Australia and India a diploma is a specific academic award of lower rank than a bachelor degree (and in some areas an Advanced Diploma falls in between as well).
  • In Ontario, Canada, diplomas are awarded by colleges whereas bachelor degrees are awarded by universities. In Canada there is a subtle difference between a college and a university.


diplomas in German: Diploma
diplomas in French: Diplôme
diplomas in Italian: Diploma
diplomas in Dutch: Diploma
diplomas in Occitan (post 1500): Diplòma
diplomas in Portuguese: Diploma
diplomas in Russian: Диплом
diplomas in Slovenian: Diploma
diplomas in Turkish: Diploma
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