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Diploma in Teaching vs. Degree in Teaching

by Shirley Erasmus

Pursuing a career in teaching may require you to study toward a degree in teaching or alternatively a diploma in teaching. Shirley breaks down some of the differences between the two options.

If you’ve always dreamed of becoming a teacher and your favorite movies include The Dead Poets Society or School of Rock, but there are so many options and you’re not sure which option is best for you. Being a teacher is more than having a giant red apple on your desk and chalkboard behind you. Teaching is a profession that can make a profound difference in the lives of future generations of this world. Sound like your kind of gig? Here’s how you can go about starting your career in teaching.

What is the difference between a diploma and a degree?

A diploma and a degree are two different qualifications and they require different levels of study. It is therefore important to understand the difference between the two options so that you can make an informed decision as to what is the best path to pursue for you.

Diploma in teaching

A diploma in teaching is a qualification that is usually awarded through a technical or vocational school. This qualification in education usually takes 18 months to acquire while a degree is usually studied over four years. A diploma in teaching will often allow you to specialize in a certain field of teaching. For example a Diploma in Grade R Teaching will allow you to teach Grade R children only. This means that if you do not have the time or funds to take a full degree in teaching, a diploma might be the right path for you.

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Degree in teaching

A degree can be earned at various levels such as: bachelor’s (four years); honours master’s (two years beyond a bachelor’s degree); and doctoral. You can achieve a degree in teaching in two ways:

  • Take a full undergraduate course in teaching
  • You need to have completed an undergraduate degree in order to apply towards a postgraduate degree in teaching.

Where can I study an Undergraduate Teaching Degree in South Africa?

Do you want to study? Check out 2020 Application Dates

What do I need to study? 

The short answer? It depends on you. While both a diploma and a degree (or postgraduate degree) in teaching have their merits, it really depends on what age group you hope to teach. If you are interested in teaching younger children, then a Bachelor of Education degree is a basic degree in teaching which enables you to work in the profession.

On the other hand, if you want to teach a specific subject, you could get a bachelors degree in that subject and follow it up with a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education).

As a rule of thumb, if you are interested in becoming a primary school teacher the subjects you passed in your matric NSC will not be as important. Alternatively, if you want to teach a particular subject to older children (for example – high school children), you will need to have the appropriate pass marks in the subjects you hope to teach, you may even be required to have pursued a higher degree in these subjects in order to qualify for a certain age-group.

What does this mean?

If you’re interested in teaching older children from high school and above, you might want to consider doing a degree or postgraduate degree in teaching. What this means is that you will be able to choose your subjects and be of great help to students who are in high-school.

However, if you love younger children and are interested in teaching children from pre-school to primary school, you might want to consider doing a diploma in a more specified course. This can be done at a number of different vocational institutions.

Lyceum School of Education Sciences

Lyceum offers diploma courses in the following:

Early Childhood Development (ECD)

This course offers students the skills to be placed in a meaningful career in Early Childhood Development and opportunities to pursue the following careers:

  • ECD Practitioner
  • Grade R Educator
  • Day-care Teacher
  • Pre-school Teacher
  • Pre-school Coordinator
  • Pre-school Director

The short learning programme from Lyceum will grant you access to study for a Diploma in Grade R Teaching.

Diploma in Grade R Teaching

This course offers students an opportunity to gain experience by applying knowledge and skills in the context of working with Grade R learners in a school. After achieving a diploma in Grade R Teaching through Lyceum, you will be able to teach in a Grade R classroom and equip them with the skills they need going into school.

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There are various options for pursuing a career in teaching and these options will vary based on what age group of students you wish to teach or what subjects you are most passionate about. Remember to explore your options and decide what is going to be the best option for you.

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