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Questions You May Have After Your HND, Answered

We answer some of the questions you may have after completing your Higher National Diploma.

A Higher National Diploma (HND) is an excellent first step towards carving out a successful career for yourself. They're not as intensive as a full Bachelors degree, yet are a great way to explore and build knowledge of your chosen subject whilst gaining invaluable vocational skills.

Whether you're nearing the end of your HND qualification or just finished one, there’s never a bad time to take stock and consider your next steps.

If you have any questions about what your options are now, we’re here to help. Below, we’ve answered some of the most FAQs people have after completing an HND. Read on.


1. What do other HND grads go on to do once they’ve finished their studies? 

The most popular route for HND graduates is to go on to further study, with almost 50% deciding to take this pathway (Higher Education Statistics Agency). Comparatively, for just under 30% of students, an HND provides a platform to continue on in full-time employment, most likely within their vocation of choice. A further 15% of students decide to combine the two, working and studying side-by-side. 


2. Should I ‘top up’ my HND to a Bachelors degree?  

An HND is a two year course that educates you to academic level 5 in the UK. In contrast, a Bachelors degree is a level 6 qualification. This means you should only need to complete one more year of full-time study to earn a Bachelors degree. Today, many universities offer specific Top Up courses that will allow you to do just this, such as our Business and Management BA (Hons) which is aimed at those with a Business/Management related HND or equivalent. The distance learning course enables people to build on their existing education and experience to gain a full BA in just 18 months, part time.  

Alternatively, you may be able to enrol on a full length Bachelors at the start of its third year. 

However, is taking a top up degree worthwhile?

As the figures above show, moving on to complete a Bachelors, or even gain a Masters degree, seems to be the right move for most students. Whilst an HND is a valuable qualification in itself, many higher paying opportunities require a degree as standard, and employers often regard them as a ‘must have’ when appointing people to senior roles. 


“In most business areas, work experience alone will only get you so far.  After this, employers expect and demand certain educational standards in order to give candidates their consideration…. Employers and decision makers are increasingly showing preference to those who have demonstrated their commitment and potential by taking quality study programmes.”

Elizabeth Blower, Northumbria University Business and Management academic


The knowledge you come away with after one extra year of study, especially given the advanced third year curriculum of most degrees, will be invaluable to enhancing your professional practice and progressing your career. The final year is often a student’s chance to conduct big research driven, independent projects, while really honing their communication and analytical skills - a critical rite of passage, which is extremely useful to prepare you for moving through the working world.


3. Can I do a top up degree in a different subject to my HND?

Generally, no. At each stage of a Bachelors degree, you'll learn crucial requisite knowledge that will provide you with a platform to learn more advanced concepts in subsequent years. Most universities, therefore, will ask that you have studied a level 5 qualification in a related subject in order to eligible for a top up course.

However, some top up programmes may offer a degree of flexibility. If you do have an interest in a specific course and want to know if your HND is compatible, you have nothing to lose by speaking to the university to find out if you are suitable.


4. Can I do a Masters after my HND? 

Usually, universities require students to complete an undergraduate degree before taking on a Masters. However, a limited selection of Masters may accept related work experience as evidence of eligibility in place of a formal education. It’s likely you would need to be able to demonstrate a significant number of years in industry - think 10 years or more - at a senior level in order to be considered.

Alternatively, some universities offer Integrated Masters programmes, which will allow you to finish your undergraduate studies and gain a postgraduate qualification in one go. 


5. Will my HND be respected by employers?

Yes! As a vocational qualification, an HND gives you the opportunity to build critical, hands on professional skills that will be of real value in the workplace. For that reason, many employers will respect and value professionals who have completed a Higher National Diploma. 

There is a risk you may not be as highly regarded by some employers as typical “graduates”. However, the best way to leverage your HND is to emphasise the value of the practical training and work experience you have built - something that your typical university student may lack. Highlighting professional experience is crucial when applying for roles; emphasizing both the careers based and academic skillset you developed during your HND will certainly help you to stand out.


Got a Business or Management HND? Manage your future with our Business and Management Top Up Degree

For more information about our Business and Management BA (Hons) Top Up, and how it could help you to boost your career and educational profile, visit our course page.


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