Getting a master’s degree in an American university with HND is possible and in this article, we will prove it. The differences between the Nigerian educational system and an American University are quite multifaceted. From the terms used, to the number of years spent in each level, to the number of levels, and to the curriculum being taught in schools. The differences are quite obvious. Some of them are easy to understand, and others are not so simple to understand.
For instance, some people might not know that while Americans would call all their tertiary institutions “colleges”, there is actually a difference between a college, a university, and a polytechnic. And yet for some others, this is the first time hearing that there are actually polytechnics in the United States.
So, yes, there are lots of misconceptions and areas of the American educational system that Nigerians are yet to fully understand. And no, it’s not just on the part of Nigerians. Americans are yet to fully understand the Nigerian educational system.
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The HND Dilemma
Today, we are going to be addressing one of those confusing areas. That is the area of the Nigerian Higher National Diploma and how it competes in the American educational system. It’s no news that here in Nigeria, most organizations, establishments, and universities snub HNDs. When placed side by side with its university counterpart, the B.Sc., the HND pales very much in comparison. And it opens fewer doors for its holders.
Normally, in the Nigerian educational system, one with an HND degree would have to do a post-graduate diploma first before applying to a university for a master’s degree. Even if it’s in the same discipline as his undergraduate programme.
Also, in order to get some jobs, some HND holders would have to “convert” their HND into a B.Sc. first before they can even get a chance.
This narrative, therefore, provides a basis for the expected confusion of the average Nigerian who intends to get a Master’s degree in an American university with HND. The questions, therefore, hang: Can I get my master’s degree in an American university with my HND? Or would I have to do a PGD first too?
Getting a master’s degree in an American university with HND simplified.
The truth of the matter and the straightforward answer to this question would be “no”. You will not have to do a PGD first to get a master’s degree in an American university.
We’ve gathered information from the research and one-on-one conversations with people who have had firsthand experience with situations like this. With that, we can categorically tell you, that American universities do not look down on the Higher National diploma degree like their counterparts in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
In the United States, they treat HND the exact same way as the B.Sc. degree. No difference at all.
There are numerous Nigerians who have gone on to the United States and even Canada with just their HND degrees. And they got into master’s programmes without breaking a sweat. Many have even gone further to obtain their Ph.D. as well! And they did this without having to first go through any remedial course, or postgraduate diploma.
In fact, this might be a good time to add that American universities do not even give postgraduate diplomas in the first place. So, that is not even an option.
A funny Story
While researching for this article, I stumbled upon a funny but true story of an incident that happened in America with a Nigerian HND holder.
So, this person obtained his HND degree from a polytechnic in Canada. He wanted to get his master’s from a university in America: the University of New Orleans to be precise. When he presented his certificate to the admissions committee at the University of New Orleans, they actually mistook it for a master’s degree!
Now here is why that confusion came up. In America, “diploma” is the generic term for any document that certifies the successful completion of any course of study, whatever level it might be. So what we and the British would call a certificate, to an average American, is a diploma.
Yes, even if you’re studying for a Ph.D., the average American would call your certificate a diploma. Funny yeah?
Anyway, moving on… against this backdrop. It becomes quite easy to understand why the admissions committee at the University of New Orleans mistook the “Higher National” Diploma” for a master’s degree.
Funny and relieving as this story may sound, this is not the only reason the Americans will not snub your HND degree. There are still, at least, four other reasons for you to feel even more relieved. Ready to see them? Then, let’s do this!
The HND degree does not exist in the American University System
Okay, first things first, in the American university system, there is nothing like a Higher National Diploma. The American University system has no concept whatsoever of the HND degree.
In the United States, tertiary institutions simply award associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees alone. Community colleges usually award associate degrees, usually after two years of study. So you could say that the associate degree is similar to the Nigerian Ordinary National Diploma. Or you could also compare it to the Nigerian (also British) A levels in some sense.
Colleges and Universities award Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, and PhDs. And those are the only post-secondary degrees you can get in the United States.
Difference Between an American College and an American University
We mentioned something about colleges and universities being different in the first paragraph. We are going to give you a brief summary of what that difference is right now.
Again, the word “college” is a generic term. It’s the name they call any institution that awards a Bachelor’s degree. So, universities are also referred to as colleges. But what’s the actual difference?
The major difference between a college and a university is the size. Colleges are smaller than universities and offer fewer programmes than a university. For instance, a university will have multiple schools (faculties) in one as compared to a college, like a school of arts, engineering, sciences, etc.
Again, universities offer a Master’s degree while colleges do not.
Polytechnics in the American and Nigerian Educational systems bear little Resemblance
Although both Nigerian and American educational systems have polytechnics, they bear little in resemblance.
For example, the Southern Polytechnic State University, 15 miles north of Atlanta, awards Bachelor’s degrees in technical, vocational, as well as science, and social science programmes.
Again, many other universities in the United States have the word “polytechnic” in their names. Examples are the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the California State Polytechnic University, etc.
Now, if someone comes to an American university presenting a qualification from a polytechnic, they will most likely regard it as a university degree. Since most universities that also award bachelor’s degrees are also regarded as polytechnics over there.
HND Degrees are awarded After Four Years of Post-Secondary Education
To the American university system, the fact that the HND degree is awarded after four years of post-secondary education makes the degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
Also, added to this is the fact that they call the degree a “diploma” (a generic term for any certificate). A polytechnic awards a diploma (which is a name often associated with universities in America). Adding all these up, you possibly get a clearer picture as to why they regard an HND degree as equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
Now, let’s do a quick compare and contrast with the Indians. Indians, with a background in social science and humanities, can never present a bachelor’s degree to American universities and expect to get accepted. The reason for this is that it takes just three years to get a degree in social science and humanities. In America, it would take a master’s degree from an Indian tertiary institution to match up with an American bachelor’s degree.
A GRE Score
The final reason you can get a master’s degree in an American university with HND is the fact that you have a GRE (or GMAT) score if you have a GRE (or GMAT) score.
Getting into an American university is a result of a multifaceted process. However, the most important part of this process is getting an acceptable GRE score. So, having an HND degree with a high GRE score will get you into an American university for your postgraduate. Even faster than simply having a first-class bachelor’s degree with mediocre GRE scores.
So, you see. With all the reasons we have stated above, you can understand why an average American university won’t be too bothered about your HND degree.
Not so with universities in the United Kingdom though. They are still quite snobbish about the HND degree.
Part of the reasons might be because polytechnics ceased to exist in the United Kingdom since the year 1992. All of them have been transmuted into universities by nomenclature and curriculum. Expectedly, therefore, HND holders will face stiff discrimination in universities across the United Kingdom.
Bottom line? Universities in the United States are more welcoming to HND degrees than their counterparts in the UK and even Nigeria.
We are sure this post brought some hope and probably put a smile on your face. Why not do the altruistic thing and share it? Ciao! And good luck!