Why is an HND a good stepping stone towards a full undergraduate degree?

Uncover the reasons why opting for an HND can be a smart move towards achieving a full undergraduate degree. Explore the advantages that make an HND top-up degree a stepping stone.

Do you prefer learning by doing? Then a Higher National Diploma (HND) might be just right for you. It's a qualification that helps you get a specific job faster than going to higher education institutions. These practical courses usually take two years if you study full-time or four years if you go part-time.

Many students in the UK choose an HND because it's a good option. After finishing it, you have two paths to consider: you can either change your career direction or take your HND to the next level and upgrade it to a full bachelor's degree with the help of an HND top-up degree.

With an HND, you learn practical skills in preparation for an accelerated entry into the job market. But the cool thing is that you can also use your HND to go to a higher institution and get a complete bachelor's degree.

Making this choice might open better job opportunities for you in the future.

What is an HND?

An HND is a vocational qualification that aims to give you hands-on skills and training in a specific field.

You can find HNDs in different subjects, like:

  • business and management
  • construction management
  • digital technology.

When you're enrolled on an HND course, the programme will include a combination of coursework, hands-on assignments and maybe even work placements. This helps you learn about real-world experiences that you can make use of when you start working.

More and more people are choosing HND courses because there's a huge demand for vocational skills. Employers value individuals who have practical experience and know how to do their tasks efficiently.

What are the jobs available with an HND?

As stated earlier, HNDs are vocational courses, meaning the subjects you learn are usually connected to a specific career path. Your HND might be getting you ready for a career in one of the following areas:

  • construction and civil engineering
  • business
  • computing
  • sports science
  • performing arts
  • agriculture
  • health and social care
  • engineering
  • hospitality
  • retail.

But the best thing about HNDs is that you gain a variety of transferable skills and work experience that can be utilised in any industry. Employers value these transferable skills, so even if you're not sure about pursuing a career in the same sector as your HND, you can still think about different industries.

Is an HND a good qualification?


An HND provides numerous benefits by imparting learners with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Exploring the wide-ranging advantages it offers, emphasises its contribution to personal growth, professional development and overall career prospects.

Improved practical skills and industry relevance

  • Practical emphasis: An HND prioritises hands-on learning; bridging the gap between theory and real-world application.
  • Industry integration: The course involves industry-specific projects, case studies and exercises for a deep understanding of the chosen field.
  • Skills development: A hands-on approach cultivates problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking skills.
  • Seamless transition: Exposure to industry-relevant techniques equips you for a smooth entry into the workforce with an up-to-date skillset which is appropriate for the market.

Enhanced job prospects and progression in career

  • Employability advantage: HND holders stand out in the job market, combining theoretical knowledge and practical expertise for a competitive edge.
  • Concrete competency: The diploma serves as proof of competency and the ability to apply learned skills in real-world situations.
  • Career advancement: HND graduates are frequently ahead of their peers in seeking employment or advancing their careers.
  • Networking opportunities: HND courses often include industry placements, fostering connections with potential employers and enhancing employability.
  • Career growth opportunities: Practical experiences through internships enable students like you to build professional relationships, gaining valuable exposure and significantly boosting your employability.

Route to further education

  • Foundation for further studies: HND qualifications are recognised by many institutions, providing opportunities for advanced standing or credit transfers.
  • Easy transition: Graduates can smoothly transition to pursuing a bachelor's degree or higher education in their field.

Professional and personal growth

  • Holistic development: An HND will foster personal and professional growth through a structured learning environment.
  • Discipline and time management: An emphasis on discipline and effective time management will develop essential professional skills.
  • Presentations: Participation in presentations will foster leadership abilities.
  • Lifelong learning mindset: Experiences on your HND course will inspire a mindset of lifelong learning, ensuring adaptability and relevance in your chosen fields.

Is an HND equivalent to a degree?

An HND is equivalent to two-thirds of a bachelor's degree.

To put it simply, it's as if you finished the first and second years of a three-year degree in the UK. Many students choose to do a "top-up" and turn their HND into a full bachelor’s degree.

An HND is considered at level 5 in the national qualifications framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This puts it on the same level as the second year of an undergraduate degree, also referred to as an honours or bachelor's degree in this blog.

However, in practice, there's a level 4 HNC (higher national certificate) embedded in HNDs, making them equal to the first two years of a degree. If you only finish the first part of an HND, you still get an HNC.

  • HNDs are worth 240 out of the 360 credits needed for a degree, while HNCs are worth 120 credits.
  • HNDs are also equivalent to foundation degrees; another level 5 qualification with 240 credits.

What is an HND top-up degree?

An HND top-up degree is a qualification that allows you to add top-up credits and achieve a full undergraduate bachelor's degree.

For many HND graduates, an HND top-up degree helps them to complete the final year of their undergraduate degree.

Can you pursue a different subject for a top-up degree with an HND?

Usually, you can't switch to a top-up degree in a different subject. Most higher education institutions prefer a level 5 qualification in the same subject.

But there could be exceptions. If you have significant work experience in the HND top-up degree subject field and a level 5 qualification in an unrelated field, you might still get in. It's worth asking your institution in such a case.

Turn your HND into a degree

You can turn your HND into a full bachelor’s degree and doing this can boost your academic qualifications and open more career opportunities for you. Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. If your HND covers similar topics as the degree, you might even start directly in the final year.

You may choose to pursue the HND top-up degree at your current institution or a different one. One of the perks is that there's no rush to do it right after completing your HND. You can take your time.

If you want to study a degree that's not exactly related to your HND, you might be able to start in the second year of an honour’s degree. But in some cases, you might need to start from the beginning. Each institution decides when you can enter the scholastic year, so it's important to contact the ones you're interested in.

Can you do a master’s with HND?

In ordinary cases, to get a master's degree, higher institutions require you to have a bachelor's degree. If you've completed an HND, the usual path is to first do an HND top-up degree and then go for a master's.

But let's say you're a mature student (25 or older for postgraduate) and you've got extensive experience in leadership and management. In some institutions, you might be able to jump into a master's degree just based on your career experience.

How to increase your chances of getting a job?


Due to the vocational nature of an HND, you might come across opportunities while working. If you're gaining work experience while studying, you'll not only refine the skills sought by employers but also establish connections that could prove beneficial in your job search.

You can benefit from acquiring practical and specialised experience before landing your initial graduate role. To make a strong impression on potential employers, it's important to highlight your strengths in a skills-based CV and cover letter. Take note of the skills employers seek to get an idea of what to include in your application.

Turning your HND into a complete degree is an effective way to enter the job market for graduates. Having a bachelor’s degree opens more job and internship options that would otherwise be unavailable to you.

Pursue an undergraduate degree in the UK with Global Banking School (GBS)

GBS is one of the leading educational institutions in the UK, known for its industry-specific courses in fields such as finance, business, healthcare and more. With a wide presence in major UK cities, the institution is dedicated to its mission of “changing lives through education”.

GBS offers numerous HND and bachelor’s degree courses for students who want to gain industry-specific skills and success in their sectors. Listed below are the sectors in which GBS offers its renowned courses.

1. Banking and finance

The banking and finance courses at GBS, known worldwide, are an investment in your future, providing chances for a successful and fulfilling career. There is substantial demand for specialised finance graduates, offering various career paths in:

  • banking
  • finance
  • accounting
  • insurance
  • financial planning
  • investment
  • tax sectors.

GBS is recognised for the training it provides to professionals in investment banks, private equity firms and hedge funds.

2. Business and management

GBS offers business management courses in the UK designed for aspiring professionals, entrepreneurs and individuals seeking business insights. Whether you're launching a business, progressing in your career, or aiming to understand global business dynamics, this is the perfect course for you. Acquire crucial skills and knowledge through hands-on applications and real-world scenarios. Delve into areas such as:

  • marketing
  • organisational behaviours
  • strategy
  • contemporary business operations.

3. Health and social care

The need for healthcare management professionals is growing and employers seek individuals with a blend of specialised healthcare knowledge and strong management skills. GBS healthcare courses are designed to cultivate both aspects, providing you with the practical skills essential for a thriving management career in healthcare. Accreditation from GBS in healthcare serves as your pathway to success in the industry. The specialised professional courses integrate practical study with work-based experience, offering you the necessary skills and knowledge for success.

4. Construction management

Construction experts are the architects of our cities, constructing the spaces where we reside, work and engage in leisure. Join this fulfilling, demanding and dynamic sector by pursuing a career in construction management. GBS construction management courses aim to enhance your specialised skills and knowledge, providing insight into the contemporary construction industry along with the legal, environmental and technological framework within which it functions.

5. Digital technology

The GBS digital technology course enables you to acquire essential skills for entering the dynamic and constantly evolving sector. Additionally, you will develop transferable skills like:

  • communication
  • teamwork
  • research.

These skills are highly esteemed in both higher education and the professional environment.

So, what are you waiting for? Contact us to enrol today.

Frequently asked questions about the HND top-up degree

A top-up degree typically enables HND graduates to complete additional coursework, often in one or two years, to earn a full bachelor's degree. This pathway recognises the HND qualification and provides a streamlined route for further academic advancement.

An HND is equivalent to two-thirds of a bachelor's degree. HNDs are recognised and respected qualifications that offer a practical and vocational focus.

Yes, an HND is considered a good qualification. It enhances employability and can serve as a stepping stone for further education or entry into the workforce, depending on one's career goals.

Yes, HND top-up degrees are often considered valuable as they offer a pathway for HND graduates to convert the HND into a full bachelor's degree, providing expanded opportunities for career advancement and higher qualifications.

GBS offers HNDs in numerous sectors, such as:

  • Business and management
  • Health and social care
  • Digital technology
  • Construction management.

Contact our student support team to learn about the application process.

Have a Query?

Explore our courses

Choose from a wide range of vocational, foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Finance, Business Management, Healthcare, Tourism and more…