High National Diploma’s (HND) are work-focused courses taught at Higher Education institutes such as universities and colleges. They take two years to complete if you are studying full-time but can be extended up to three or four years if you would rather study part-time.

Classed as a Level 5 qualification, they are the equivalent to a foundation degree or the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. They are a great way to learn the focused skills needed for a particular career without committing to a whole degree. HND’s are popular because of their vocational nature; they incorporate practical experience and skills into the studying programme, making it easier to step into employment.

In general, HND’s target young people who are starting in employment, and want to know that what they are studying will help them get onto their career path. However, suppose you are already in a career and want to refresh your skills or find new opportunities. In that case, an HND could be an excellent choice for you. They usually ask for one or two A-Levels as an entry requirement, but do check with each course as this can vary.

As they are a Higher Education qualification, you can get financial support from the government in the form of maintenance and tuition loans. For more information on the loan system in England, visit our page on university costs.

The cost of an HND can vary depending on the institution and where in the UK you are studying. An example of the price of an HND in 2019/2020 entry, is a Film and TV production diploma at Southport College, which costs £6,165 for two years full-time.

HND’s are suitable for people who want to go into a practical industry because they are designed with a specific career in mind. Here is a list of some popular Higher National Diploma’s:

What can you do after a Higher National Diploma?

One of the most appealing things about HND’s is that any time after finishing them, you can choose to do a ‘top-up’ year to convert the diploma into a full bachelor’s degree. This is a popular choice for many people who complete HND’s, either because they are interested in the subject or because they want a further qualification.

Most graduate jobs or graduate-level jobs won’t accept an HND as a full degree so you will need to do to top up year to apply for these. It has been reported that 47% of people who completed at HND were in further study for their full bachelor’s qualification within six months.

You do not have to decide whether or not you want to do this final year until the end of your course, and you can even have a break of a few years then go back to finish it. You can choose to do your top-up year either at the same institution that you do your HND or a different one. This means that an HND is a perfect flexible choice for people who might know what career they want to go into but don’t want to commit to one institution for three years.

Research what jobs you are interested in before signing up for a top-up year as not all jobs require the final year, meaning you may waste time and money. For example, the nation’s leading air navigation service provider, National Air Traffic Services, offers a job programme for people with an HND in engineering.

For more information on careers after studying, visit our hub for Graduate Careers.