“Top-Up” Degree in Canada Universities

An HND “Top-Up” degree in Canada universities permits graduates who have acquired an HND (Higher National Diploma) to top-up their education in order to acquire a bachelor’s degree from a Canadian college or university.

The HND top-up degree is a perfect opportunity for people who have always wanted to bag a bachelor’s degree in their respective fields but were unable to. If you fall into that category, then in today’s guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about HND top-up degree in Canada universities and at the end of this blog post, you’ll be able to tell if it’s the right move for you or not.

What is a Higher National Diploma (HND)?

A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a qualification that uses practical elements and studying to prepare students for a particular career or job. The HND course is higher education qualification that’s available in the UK as well as in other international countries.

HND assignments have been specifically tailored or developed for the world of work. It’s no wonder why they are valued and highly sought after by employers and companies. So if you are more of a practical person then obtaining an HND and working with it should be ideal. However, if you’d like to increase your pay or get a higher position (in the case of a company) then you’ll need to top-up your degree. But what’s a top-up degree? Continue reading to find out.


What’s a “Top-Up” Degree?

A top-up degree is a program made for graduates or holders of HND to top-up their skills and knowledge in order to gain a bachelor’s degree from a university or college.

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In Canada, it’s possible for an HND certificate holder with a related Higher National Diploma to complete the required or necessary courses within a time frame of two to three academic years and at the end of that period, if the student graduates with satisfactory grades, they are then given a bachelors degree.

For example, let’s say you are a Chemical Engineering HND certificate holder who resides outside Canada, most Canadian universities will be willing to give you admission into a 2nd or 3rd-year bachelor’s program in that engineering discipline. However, the decision about the year (2nd or 3rd) largely depends on the number of transfer credits that were accepted from your previous HND degree.

Is it Possible for an HND Holder to Apply for a Masters’ Degree in Canada?

Yes! It is. As an HND certificate holder, you’ll be able to apply for a master’s degree in Canada. But, the chances of being offered admission directly into a master’s degree program in the country is pretty slim with only an HND certificate.

Why is it so difficult? It’s difficult because Canada is a popular location among international students who want to bag a master’s degree. Due to the high demand among international students, most Canadian universities often reserve the spots available for their master’s program for students who have at least a second-class upper (i.e., a 2:1) bachelor’s degree and not an HND.

However, if you want to improve your chances of being admitted then submitting your application together with a Post-HND degree will greatly improve your chances of being offered admission to pursue your master’s program by a Canadian university.

Which Canadian Universities accept HND for their Master’s Programs?

Canadian universities accepting HND for masters is only theoretical. What I mean by this is, that it’s possible for you to be accepted with an HND but the truth is, you most likely won’t be admitted. Hence, the earlier you can come to terms with that fact the better.

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So what are my options as an HND certificate holder? As a student with an HND certificate, the best approach to getting admitted into a Canadian university is through any of the following options:

  • Apply for a Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD)

You can start your journey of bagging a Canadian master’s degree by applying for a postgraduate diploma course at a Canadian college. However, the course you are selecting or choosing should be related to your previous HND course of study; which should also be related to the master’s program you have in mind.

Now, enrolling on a PGD program doesn’t automatically means you’ll be accepted by a Canadian university, what it means is after graduation, you’ll be eligible—which means that you can be accepted by one. However, if you want to be sure of being admitted, make sure you have good grades while undergoing the program (usually, having a minimum of B average is okay).

Finally, when you are getting close to completing your PGD studies in Canada, you can then start applying for a related master’s degree program in Canada. At this point, your chances of being admitted by a Canadian university to pursue your master’s is now very high because most Canadian universities give preference to HND certificate holders who also have a PGD degree.

  • Convert your HND To BSC
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This is where the importance of top-up degree programs comes in. Just as it has been earlier stated in this blog post, HND top-up degree in Canada universities lets you convert your HND to a bachelor’s degree. If you choose to follow this approach, then you’ll have to apply for an undergraduate program in order to get your credits transferred into a bachelor’s degree (your chosen university or college may waive some of the courses you studied in your country).

For this approach to work, you must choose the same or similar discipline that relates to what you studied during your HND program at your previous university. Canadian universities expect you to meet a minimum grade for courses you want to be waived. The number of years it’ll take you to obtain the degree depends on the number of courses you want to be waived and the number of courses you’ll have to undertake.

Finally, upon graduation, you’ll be given a bachelor’s degree in your chosen course and from there, you can proceed with applying for a master’s program but unlike before the top-up, your chances of being admitted to study masters is now high. To further improve your chances, make sure you graduate with a good grade (a minimum of a 2:1 will work just fine).

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi, I have a top-up degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering(2nd upper) and a Higher Diploma in Information Technology (second lower).
    Can I apply for a top-up degree in IT with these results in Canada?

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