Human Resources

Should You Choose a CIPD Diploma, Certificate or Award?

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Progress in your HR or L&D by studying a CIPD qualification.


 

Choosing the correct CIPD qualification is key to maximising the impact that these can have on your HR or L&D career.

As well as assessing the right level for your experience, you should also be aware of the different types of qualification that are available at each level.

Over the course of this blog, we’ll show you the various options and explain the key differences that you need to know about. 

 

Jump to:

What's the Difference Between a CIPD Diploma, Certificate and Award?

Should You Study a CIPD Level 3 Foundation Diploma or Certificate?

Should You Study a CIPD Level 5 Advanced Diploma or Certificate?

Should You Study a CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma or Certificate?

 

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What's the Difference Between a CIPD Diploma, Certificate and Award?

At each CIPD Level, there are three qualification lengths to choose from.

  • CIPD Diplomas are the most comprehensive and desirable CIPD qualifications, covering everything you need to know at your chosen level.
  • CIPD Certificates are shorter qualifications, covering only essential modules from the Diploma.
  • CIPD Awards are bite-sized courses covering one module from the Diploma. They’re useful if you’d like to focus on a specific topic like employment law.

 

Should You Study a CIPD Level 3 Foundation Diploma or Certificate?

If you’re new to the world of HR or L&D, then a foundation level qualification will be most suitable for you. These qualifications are designed as an introduction to the field that you wish to join, perfect for those with little to no prior experience.

 

Average Completion Time

  • Diploma – 8 to 10 months
  • Certificate – 7 to 9 months

 

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Core & Elective Topics Covered

CIPD Level 3 HR Modules

If you study the Level 3 Diploma in HR, you'll complete all of the core and elective modules.

If you study the Level 3 Certificate in HR, you'll complete all four core modules plus your choice of two elective modules.

 

Core modules

  • Understanding Organisations and the Role of Human Resources
  • Recording, Analysing and Using HR Information
  • Resourcing Talent
  • Developing Yourself as an Effective HR/L&D Practitioner

 

Elective modules

  • Delivering Learning and Development Activities
  • Supporting Good Practice in Performance and Reward Management
  • Supporting Good Practice in Managing Employment Relations

 

CIPD Level 3 L&D Modules

If you study the Level 3 Diploma in L&D, you'll complete all seven core modules plus your choice of one elective module.

If you study the Level 3 Certificate in L&D, you'll complete six of the core modules. 

 

Core modules

  • Becoming an Effective L&D Practitioner
  • L&D and the Organisation
  • Identifying L&D Needs
  • Designing L&D Activities
  • Delivering L&D Activities
  • Evaluating L&D Activities
  • Supporting Coaching and Mentoring (Diploma only)

 

Elective modules

  • Supporting Collective and Social Learning
  • Enhancing Learner Engagement
  • Using Technology to Facilitate Learning

 

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Should You Study a CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Diploma or Certificate?

A Level 5 qualification is right for you if you have some experience in HR or L&D, or if you already have a relevant degree. These qualifications will help you to build your professional practice and act more strategically, paving the way for roles like HR Manager, HRBP, L&D Officer, and L&D Advisor.

 

Average Completion Time

  • Diploma – 9 to 12 months
  • Certificate – 8 to 10 months

 

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Core & Elective Topics Covered

CIPD Level 5 HR Modules

If you study the Level 5 Diploma in HR, you'll complete all of the core and elective modules.

If you study the Level 5 Certificate in HR, you'll complete all four core modules plus your choice of two elective modules.

 

Core modules

  • Developing Professional Practice
  • Using Information in HR
  • Business Issues and the Contexts of HR
  • Managing and Coordinating the HR Function

 

Elective modules

  • Resourcing and Talent Planning
  • Reward Management
  • Employment Law
  • Contemporary Developments in Employment Relations

 

CIPD Level 5 L&D Modules

If you study the Level 5 Diploma in L&D, you'll complete all seven core modules.

If you study the Level 5 Certificate in L&D, you'll complete five core modules. 

 

Core modules

  • Developing Professional Practice
  • Understanding the Context of L&D
  • Using Information Metrics and Developing Business Cases for L&D
  • Implementing Coaching and Mentoring
  • Facilitating Collective and Social Learning
  • Developing Leadership and Management Skills (Diploma only)
  • Managing the L&D Business Function (Diploma only)

 

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Should You Study a CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma or Certificate?

A Level 7 qualification can help you to progress to senior roles in your HR or L&D career. To study this course, you should have significant real-world experience in HR or L&D, or a degree. Studying a Level 5 qualification can also act as a route to these advanced qualifications.

 

Average Completion Time

  • Diploma – 18 to 24 months
  • Certificate – 9 to 12 months

 

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Core & Elective Topics Covered

CIPD Level 7 HR Modules

If you study the Level 7 Diploma in HR, you'll complete four core modules plus your choice of four elective modules.

If you study the Level 7 Certificate in HR, you'll complete four modules of your choice from either the core or elective list below.

 

Core modules

  • Human Resource Management in Context
  • Leading, Managing and Developing People
  • Developing Skills for Business Leadership
  • Investigating a Business Issue from an HR Perspective

 

Elective modules

  • Resourcing and Talent Management
  • Managing Employment Relations
  • Reward Management
  • Employment Law
  • Learning and Talent Development
  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Organisational Design and Organisational Development

 

CIPD Level 7 L&D Modules

If you study the Level 7 Diploma in L&D, you'll complete all seven core modules plus your choice of one elective module.

 

Core modules

  • Human Resource Management in Context
  • Leading, Managing and Developing People
  • Developing Skills for Business Leadership
  • Investigating a Business Issue from an HR Perspective
  • Learning and Talent Development
  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Organisational Design and Organisational Development

 

Elective modules

  • Resourcing and Talent Management
  • Managing Employment Relations
  • Reward Management
  • Employment Law

 

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Level 7 Diploma Benefits

The Level 7 Diploma is equivalent to a Master's degree, and it’s the only qualification that allows you to apply for Chartered Membership. This means that you can use the designatory letters MCIPD after your name to indicate your level of professional study.


 

Upgrading Your Qualification

If you do choose to study an award or certificate, it is possible to later upgrade this into the full diploma. You can pay the difference in cost between the shorter, less expensive course that you have studied and the diploma to gain access to the full course.

By completing the additional modules, you’ll be able to take your qualification to the next level and complete the full Diploma. We allow our students to do so, but not all providers may do this so it’s worth checking this before you enrol.


 

If you want to progress in your HR or L&D career, then CIPD qualifications can create a lot of new opportunities for you.

Whether you’re starting with a short foundation course or progressing to a comprehensive advanced qualification, these can arm you with the skills and experience that you need to thrive.

 


Find out more about our fully-flexible online CIPD courses.