Top-up Degrees: A Complete Guide for HND Holders to Study Abroad

A top-up degree is the same as the final year of an undergraduate degree. Students who have finished a foundation-level degree (such as an HND) and want to get a Bachelor’s degree can do so with top-up degree programmes. Top-up degrees allow students to expand their skill set and understanding of the field. They do this while also earning an internationally recognized certification. 

Even though an HND is a great degree, pursuing an extra degree is worthwhile. At some universities, there are a lot of study alternatives for you to choose from. This includes day, evening, and weekend classes. If you like, you can spread your studies out over a longer length of time. Think of it as an adult programme where you get to top up your foundation or HND degree.


Benefits of Getting a Top-up Degree

Below are some of the benefits of getting a top-up degree. 

Expand Your Knowledge and Skills in the Field with a Top-up Degree

Top-up degrees can be helpful because they assist you in improving your expertise. You will become more knowledgeable in your specific field. Besides, they award an internationally recognized qualification.

Top-up Degrees are Affordable

When compared to obtaining a standard degree, top-up degrees are more affordable. Getting a top-up degree enables you to begin a new career. You can do this while minimizing the amount of credit you will encounter in the future. Taking the first two years of a top-up degree will help you save money on university tuition. You not only get the same degree for less money, but you also avoid piling up huge student loans. 

You will be able to save some money upon graduation instead of paying off student loans. If finances are a problem, getting a top-up degree is the best way to go.

It’s Equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree

Universities accept top-up degrees like bachelor’s degrees. If you wish to pursue a post-graduate programme but you have an HND, top-up degrees will help you. As the name implies, the top-up degree tops up your foundational degree to a bachelor’s degree. This way, you will be eligible to apply for a Masters programme. Many students who get a top-up degree usually proceed to pursue a Master’s degree.

Top-up Degrees Build Fundamental Knowledge 

Whatever field you choose, a top-up degree programme will ease the creation of core knowledge that is particular to the industry. So, this assists in the development of knowledge in the field you would like to thrive in. For example, once a student has earned a certificate in Law, he/she may wish to advance to International Law.

Presents an Opportunity to Travel Abroad

Pursuing a top-up degree is a great opportunity to study abroad. If given admission at the university of your choice, your student visa will be granted. You don’t have to apply for only full degree programmes to get a student visa. Study visas are also available for international students who wish to get a top-up degree.

Top-up Degree Offer Flexible Learning Methods

The top-up degree approach gives more flexible study modes. You have the opportunity to take the course on your own time and fit the coursework around your schedule. Pursuing a top-up degree gives you time to do other things.

Top-up Degrees Demonstrates Your Skillset to Employers

Another benefit is that it will assist you in demonstrating to an employer that you have the skills required for your chosen career path. It will also open up other chances for you in the future.

Getting a top-up degree will assist you in advancing your career at your current company. Most firms and graduate scheme recruiters list a Bachelor’s degree as a mandatory criterion. Getting a top-up degree, paired with job experience, could help you stand out.


Requirements for Top-up Degree

 The requirements for getting a top-up degree differ depending on the institution you apply to. Most will require that you have achieved a two-year certificate in the field of studies. It could be an HND or any other foundational degree.

Below are the requirements for admission to top-up degree courses.

  • A foundation degree program from a reputed university.
  • A Higher National Diploma (HND) from a reputable college or university.
  • You must also prove your English proficiency. It must be equivalent to IELTS 6.0 if you are not a native English speaker.

When applying for admission, know that your previous qualifications must be legitimate. You won’t be able to get admission if you have an invalid qualification.

After Getting a Top-up Degree: What Next? 

When you finish a top-up degree, you’ll have extensive knowledge that you can apply in the real world. You’ll also have improved your knowledge and skillset. These will prove to be important skills for many employers. It will show that you’re an individual committed to earning an undergraduate degree. This is because you did not stop after obtaining a foundational degree.

You can go ahead and achieve anything a bachelor’s degree holder can achieve. You can apply for jobs with a bachelor’s degree criteria, and also apply for masters and Ph.D.


The Best Countries for Top-up Degree Programmes

 Below are some of the best countries you should consider for getting a top-up degree.

United Kingdom 

In the UK, top-up degrees are equivalent to full degrees. An undergraduate degree in the UK takes three to four years to complete.  Top-up degrees in the UK allow you to convert a Level 5 certificate into a full undergraduate degree in a year. In comparison, an undergraduate degree in the UK lasts three to four years.

Top-up degrees are created with a curriculum that is tailored to the current labour market. As a result, students will be able to build the precise skill set required to thrive in their field. Top-up degrees are appropriate for students seeking graduate-level jobs. This is because they give you a head start in your profession. They also provide you with the academic qualifications required for these positions. 

Graduates of top-up programs have the skills they need to succeed in their field. See some of the schools that offer top-up degree programmes in the UK.

United States of America 

For HND graduates, the United States offers a safe haven. It’s straightforward to understand why so many HND graduates prefer the United States to the United Kingdom and Canada. When it comes to polytechnic and university degrees, there are no distinctions in the country. In the United States, polytechnics are frequently affiliated with universities.

 When you move to America with an HND, you will most likely be treated as if you have a university degree. Because of the country’s educational system, HND graduates are not prejudiced against. This, however, does not mean that you should not pursue a top-up degree. Getting a top-up degree is always advantageous for those with a foundational degree.

Pebbles Hills University is one of the most popular universities in the US that offers top-up degrees.


For international students interested in pursuing a master’s degree, Canada is a popular choice. For their masters programme, Canadian universities admit students who have a bachelor’s degree. Not just that, the student must have a second-class upper(2:1). This is because of the high demand to pursue masters in Canada. The good news is that having both an HND and a top-up degree boosts the odds of being accepted into a master’s program in Canada.

Obtaining a top-up degree in Canada is a great way to secure admission to a master’s program with your HND certificate. A top-up degree from a Canadian university is equal to a bachelor’s degree from a Canadian university!


Singapore is one of the best countries to obtain a top-up degree. Top-up degrees are becoming increasingly popular among Singapore students. Top-up degree programmes provide students with an opportunity to boost their foundation degree.

Students seeking top-up degree programmes in Singapore are recognized for their enhanced courses that meet quality standards. In comparison to other regular degrees or certifications, it aids in making students more aware of the coursework. 

The top-up degree enables students in Singapore to achieve extensive knowledge in a specific field. Also, when pursuing advanced degree programs, you will learn about international education credibility. Every student who completes a foundation degree in Singapore is eligible to enroll in a top-up degree programme. This will lead to a conversion course leading to a full honors degree. 


Final Note

If you want to boost your current academic qualifications as well as boost your job prospects or pursue postgraduate study, top-up degrees are a fantastic alternative. Top-up degrees are usually industry-specific. They assist you in developing the essential skills you will need to excel in a specific field.

If you have a foundational degree, like an HND, opting for a top-up degree is the best way to go.  A top-up degree of one year will enable you to achieve this goal. So, if you have been wondering if you can study abroad with an HND, the answer is yes! See how to go about it here.

Related Articles