PG Diploma vs Masters in Canada: How to Decide the Right Course?

If you are planning to study in Canada after graduation, both PG Diploma and Masters (MS) are good options. There is no right or wrong. Both options have their own benefits and limitations. In this post, we will do a comparison between PG Diploma and Masters (MS) in Canada.

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PG Diploma vs Masters in Canada: Comparison

ParametersPG DiplomaMasters (MSc / MEng)
Duration1 - 2 years2 - 3 years
CostINR 10 - 18 LacsINR 12 - 32 Lacs
ScholarshipsVery LimitedPretty much available; especially for Thesis-based Masters
Bachelor Degree Duration3-yearMust be 4-year Bachelors
GPA Requirement55 - 60%Minimum 70% (CGPA 7.6)
IELTS Requirement6 - 6.5 (Overall)6.5 - 7.0 (Overall)
GRE / GMATNot RequiredMandatory for few universities; desirable for others
Contacting SupervisorNot RequiredRequired for majority of thesis-based Masters
Post-Study Work Permit1 year2 - 3 years
Salary Range (per annum)CAD $40,000 - $53,000CAD $55,000 - 90,000
Immigration Points15 (even with a 2-year PG Diploma)30 (even with a 1-year Masters)

How to Choose the Right Program between PG Diploma and Masters in Canada?

PG Diploma in Canada is a 12-24 months program that will help you to get a job quickly as it works as an additional qualification for bachelor degree holders.

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A PG diploma is not equivalent to a master’s degree. A Master’s degree in Canada is a 2-3 years program through which one can specialize in a particular subject area or domain.

To make the decision-making process easy, I am going to lay out the reasons when not to choose a particular option.

When NOT to Choose a PG Diploma in Canada?

You have 70% or above in your Bachelor’s Degree

Ideally, PG Diploma is suitable for the folks who have a weaker academic track record (say less than 65%) in their Bachelors. So, if you have 70% (CGPA 7.5) or more, it’s better to opt for a Masters degree.

If you have a 4-year Bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree

The majority of Masters degrees in Canada ask for a 4-year undergraduate degree. Hence, it makes sense to opt for a PG Diploma if you happen to have a 3-year Bachelor’s degree.

If you have 7.0 or above in IELTS

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If you have scored 7.0 or more in IELTS (or equivalent scores in TOEFL, DuoLingo, or PTE), you could be over-qualified for a PG Diploma in Canada.

You have some work experience

If you have professional work experience post-Bachelors, it’s better to leverage that. Your work experience can be advantageous for courses like MBA, MS Business Analytics, and even MS.

If you have GRE/GMAT score (or planning to appear)

PG Diploma courses in Canada do not require GRE or GMAT. So, no point in opting for a PG Diploma if you have a valid GRE or GMAT score (or planning to appear).

If you can afford a Little More for your Postgraduate Studies

If you are on a very tight budget for your postgraduate studies in Canada, then it’s okay to opt for a PG Diploma.

However, if you can afford and are qualified, then aim for a Masters degree by all means. It can give your better ROI in the short-term and long-term in terms of salary and career growth.

By the way, it’s possible to complete your Masters in Canada in less than INR 12 Lacs. In fact, students who opted for thesis-based masters in Canada went on to receive full funding (full tuition fee waiver along with monthly stipend).

Need more personalized advice on fully-funded MS in Canada? Feel free to book a 1-on-1 session with me.

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You Want a Better ROI

The average base salary for PG Diploma holders in Canada is CAD $53,000 per year. Whereas for Masters degree holders, the average base salary is CAD $69,000 per annum.

For niche subjects, Master’s degree holders can earn between CAD $90,000 and $125,000 per annum.

Whereas, salaries for PG Diploma holders can be as low as CAD $34,000 per annum.

If you are inclined towards Research Career or Academia

If you are interested in a research career or academia, you should definitely avoid PG Diploma. Be it an R&D job in the industry or PhD, an MS will serve your purpose better.

When NOT to Choose a Masters in Canada?

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If you have a 3-year undergraduate Degree

Usually, you are required to possess a 4-year undergraduate degree in order to be eligible for a Masters degree in Canada. So, if you have a 3-year Bachelors from India, it would be wise to opt for a PG Diploma. You can then later switch to MS after completing your PG Diploma.

A few business degrees (like MBA, MiM, etc.) do accept 3-year Bachelor’s degrees. But, the options are very limited.

You have Less than 70% in your Bachelor’s Degree

The majority of top Canadian universities require a minimum of 75% marks (or CGPA 8.25 or more) in Bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for a Masters program.

Given the huge volume of applications received by Canadian universities, your chances would be extremely low to get into a Masters program with anything less than 70% in your undergraduate degree.

If you are not inclined toward Research and Innovation

The majority of Masters programs, especially at the top universities, involve a research or thesis component. If research is not your cup of tea, stay away from a Masters.

A PG Diploma in Canada will serve your purpose better as it will make you job-ready without conducting any research work.

My Two Cents

Even a PG Diploma from a good college will cost you at least INR 12-20 Lacs.

Why would you want to spend a huge amount of money to go to Canada to pursue just a “PG Diploma”?

If you really want to go for your higher studies in Canada, just go for your MS.

Firstly this is a proper Master’s Degree and not any Diploma. Secondly anywhere around the world Master Degree in a Technical field has a way bigger value than a Diploma.

There are agents and study abroad counselors/consultants who may suggest that PG diploma is better because it’s cheap, it will help you to get jobs easily, and can be a quicker gateway to Canadian PR.

Please keep in mind that those agents/consultants get money for sending you to Canadian colleges for PG Diploma. Whereas hardly any Canadian university (except a few) pays the agents/consultants to recruit students for their Masters programs.

Need Personalized Guidance?

Sign up for a 30/60-minute consultation session with Tanmoy Ray

Here are a few good subjects that you can consider for pursuing a PG Diploma in Canada as an international student:

  • Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Public Relations
  • Advertising
  • Education Counselling and Management
  • Operations Management 
  • Insurance and Risk management 
  • Marketing 
  • Accounting 
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Nursing
  • Healthcare
  • Journalism

Try to Choose a Longer PG Diploma in Canada

If you are not eligible for Masters or don’t have the budget to afford a Masters, then try to choose a PG Diploma that is of 16-month (or more) in duration.

  • You will get more time to settle down.
  • There would be more opportunities for Co-op and internships.
  • You will be eligible for a longer post-study work permit.

Lastly, if you are going to enroll in a PG Diploma course in Canada, try for colleges or universities, where you can switch to Masters track after 1-year.

Canada has set a goal to welcome 400,000 migrants annually. But, make sure you choose the better route to follow the Canadian dreams.

You might also like the following articles:

Tips to Avoid Canada Student Visa Rejections

How to Get Jobs in Canada as an International Student

How to Secure Fully-Funded MS in Canada and USA

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Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage Operations at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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