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Why start on a CertCE rather than a BA (Hons) degree?

Open book on a table, in the sun

At University of Essex Online we offer undergraduate qualifications including a Certificate of Continuing Education (CertCE), Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Bachelor of Arts (BA (Hons)) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Deciding which one is right for each student is a big part of our application process.

Not sure which level is right for you? This week’s blog gives you answers to some of the most common questions about our different qualifications…


“Why start on a CertCE when traditional universities only provide Bachelor degrees?”

While it’s true that traditional universities are in the business of providing Bachelors level qualifications, the truth is that these courses still consist of CertCE and DipHE (or equivalent) qualifications. Each course consists of the modules from the previous course which means that instead of seeing them as separate, they should instead be seen as progression.

For example, if you were to quit a traditional university course after two years, you would be granted an exit qualification that resembles a DipHE.

What we do at University of Essex Online is offer these components as individually selectable options up front, rather than asking students to commit to a full BA (Hons) course from the start.

“Why do you offer the course in parts and not just full Bachelor degrees?”

We could do this, but we’re aware that:

  • Not everyone needs/wants a full degree to achieve their personal or professional goals.
  • Students may want to take their time to complete the course and spread it out over a longer period than the BA (Hons) maximum study duration allows for.
  • Online study is new to most people and we want our students to be sure that they like it as a method of study before deciding to do a four year degree (although we do offer a 21-day money back guarantee on all our courses).
  • Some people are uncertain what their circumstances will be like in a few years’ time, so don’t want to commit to a long course.
  • Not everyone is ready to make the step of committing to long-term study.
  • Some people don’t meet the traditional academic entry requirements for a full BA (Hons) course, so we encourage them to try further education in a short course format like the CertCE before committing to longer.
  • Some people need qualification certificates in the short-term and rather than waiting four years for a BA (Hons) certificate, they would prefer to get multiple certificates during that period that they can present to potential employers.


“What happens if I want to do a BA (Hons) but I start on a CertCE?”

The way our courses work is that you can progress from one to the next seamlessly. Meaning that once you complete a CertCE you can move onto the DipHE and it will feel no different than if you were on the full BA (Hons) course.

The modules you complete will be identical and the students you work with online will be the same, whether you’re on the CertCE or the BA (Hons) course.


“So if I have any doubts, I should just start on the CertCE and move up to a higher qualification later?”

Simply put, “Yes”. There’s no harm in taking this approach and at University of Essex Online you’re given a dedicated Student Support Adviser who will take care of the pastoral requirements of transitioning you between courses, leaving you free to focus on study.

Some students feel there’s a stigma attached to joining a CertCE course rather than signing up to the BA (Hons) degree from the word go; however, academically speaking, building up your degree over multiple courses is exactly the same as gaining it by joining the BA (Hons) from day one.


Want to know more? Contact our Admissions team.