HND or Bachelor’s Degree?

HND or bachelor's degree

Are you deliberating between studying an HND or full degree? You’re in the right place. Today we will be discussing the positives and negatives of both qualifications with the aim of making your next educational move just that little bit easier.

What is an HND?

HND stands for Higher National Diploma. An HND is an undergraduate vocational qualification and is equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree; an HND usually lasts two years when studied full-time. HNDs are work-related qualifications; they are designed to give students the academic knowledge and practical skills needed to excel in the workplace.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate qualification usually studied for at a university or college; most bachelor’s degrees in England take three years to complete. They are designed to provide students with general skills within a subject area that can be applied across a range of sectors.

Benefits of an HND

  • HND’s take two years to complete when studied full-time
  • HND’s tend to be cheaper than bachelor’s degrees – around £6,000
  • HND courses are created alongside industry experts and employers
  • HNDs are structured around gaining and developing the practical skills needed in particular sectors, making gaining employment the end goal of the qualification
  • You can top-up an HND to a full degree with just one extra year of study
  • HND’s tend to be exam-free; they are assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks
  • Entry requirements for HNDs tend to be lower than those required for degrees
  • HND courses have intakes throughout the year (January, May and September, for example)

Benefits of a Bachelor’s Degree

  • Bachelor’s degrees allow students to develop critical and theoretical understanding of a subject
  • Four-year bachelor’s degrees give you the opportunity to do a sandwich course – a year in industry or abroad
  • Full degrees allow students to develop their analytical, intellectual and essay/dissertation writing skills
  • There are a vast range of bachelor’s degree subjects to choose from which can help you prepare for a particular career or equip you with the skills needed for a wide range of roles
  • After a bachelor’s degree, graduates can go into employment or use their qualification to go on and study for a masters or PhD
  • University graduate’s employment rates are higher than those of non-graduates
  • With a degree, you can combine two topics – you could study French with business, for example

Cons of an HND

  • HNDs are only equivalent to the first two years of a full degree
  • Accreditation tends to be focused on continuous coursework rather than an end of year examination
  • HNDs are described as being role-specific in comparison to full degrees where the learning is more generic
  • If you study for an HND, you may not get the same atmosphere and social life as you would at university
  • There are a number of assignment grades you can get with an HND such as pass or distinction

Cons of a Bachelor’s Degree

  • The cost of a bachelor’s degree is significantly more than an HND – typically £9,000 per year vs £6,000
  • There are several degree classifications you can gain from a bachelor’s degree – you could graduate with a 1st or a 3rd, for example
  • Bachelor’s degrees typically take three years to complete unlike HNDs which usually take two
  • Intakes for full degrees tend to be in September or January/February only


Perhaps we’re a little bias here at HND Insider, but we believe the benefits of studying an HND can overshadow those of completing a bachelor’s degree. HNDs are great if you know the route you want your career to take for example, but if you’re adamant you want a full degree on your CV, it’s worth considering the fact that you can study an HND and top it up to a full degree for significantly less money than a three-year university degree.

Looking for further advice and guidance? Give the team at HND Insider a shout; we’re here to answer all your questions.

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