Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 31, 2023


Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate

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Knowledge is a fundamental necessity for growth and success in life. We all acknowledge that our parents are our first teachers. Subsequently, they enroll us in kindergarten to acquire better knowledge. As we continue to grow, we transition to a new school, a new education system, new classes, and new milestones. Upon completion of our matriculation, the entire education system and the syllabus pattern of school life undergo significant changes. It becomes further divided into Arts, Science, and Commerce in the higher secondary or undergraduate program, and a Master's degree or Doctorate after the graduate program. While the terms undergraduate and graduate both serve the purpose of preparing individuals for new experiences and advancing their education, there exist important differences between the two. These differences encompass outcomes, levels of difficulty and commitment, and the reasons why students choose to pursue these programs. While some differences may be minor, others hold significant importance. Continue reading to gain comprehensive knowledge about the various degree levels and the distinctions between undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Undergraduate vs Graduate

The two terms are often misunderstood as academic terms among young people in the US. Some people still consider both as being the same, while others are confused about which comes first between the two. 

The undergraduate definition makes it the first level of study after secondary education; it offers technical, vocational, and practicable knowledge that the student needs to be qualified as a professional in the different working sectors. 

The study can either be taken with the mind of immediate employment after graduation or as a stepping stone for an advanced study while the graduate, on the other hand, is for professionals and students looking for a more specialized focus in their field.

The graduate comes after the undergraduate degree; it is an advanced level of learning.

So, if you are looking forward to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you are an undergraduate. So, in this article, we will be discussing graduate and undergraduate meanings. What is the difference, similarities, types, and cost? 

If you are still undergoing a four-year bachelor’s degree, then you are an undergraduate, but the completion makes you a graduate.

Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate in Tabular Form

Parameters of comparisonUndergraduateGraduate
Class sizeHere you’ll often have hundreds of students in one class.This program is a lot more competitive, though and has a small batch size.
Changing programsYou can change your mind in between the course.You can’t generally change your mind about this program as it is a lot more specific.
Program LengthUndergraduate degrees will take about four years of study.Graduate degrees will take one to three years of study.
AttendanceAttendance is completely optional.Here professors expect you to attend every single class.
Grades/ExpectationsMost of the batch strength got average marks.Most of the students got lower marks due to the advanced level of studies.
Class FormatHere you generally go to class and be learning passively by listening to a lecture.In graduate schools, there’s a lot more than lectures, like group discussions and activities.
Program FormatUndergraduate degrees have courses and semester papers that you can choose as per your wish.Graduate programs are a lot more structural.
OffersGenerally, it doesn’t offer any internships.Graduate programs do offer internships.

What is The Term Undergraduate Means?

First of all, we will talk about what undergraduate means. An undergraduate is a student who studies in a college or a university and hasn’t received a bachelor’s degree yet might term themselves an undergraduate student. An undergraduate student is a student who is basically pursuing a degree at the initial level of higher education. The undergraduate term can be used for those students who have completed their matriculation and higher secondary studies and, currently a student who is opted for graduation but hasn’t completed it.

What Is the Eligibility to Get Admission to an Undergraduate School?

To get admission to any of the undergraduate schools, a student is just required to have a decent scorecard with passing marks. There are plenty numbers of colleges that accept the application of average students and give them admission, but there are some good colleges that have their cut-off marks for different subjects. Many engineering colleges and almost every government medical college accepts a valid scorecard of All India Ranking and give admission on its basis. There are many undergraduate colleges that have quota seats, where students book their slots by paying a bigger amount of money without providing any AIR scorecard.

Top 5 Reasons Why you should Pursue an Undergraduate Degree in India.

There are so many reasons to pursue an undergraduate degree-

1. Affordable Cost of Education- To pursue an undergraduate program in India is budget friendly and cheaper than pursuing a four-year undergraduate program abroad. The tuition fees and living cost is very affordable in India.

2. International Rankings- In 2023, university rankings, these three institutions of India made it to the top 300 universities of the world.

* Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, as RANK 155

* Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Bombay as RANK 172

*Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Delhi, as RANK 174

3. Quality of Education- Every degree-granting university in India requires accreditation by institutions authorized by UGC, that is University Grants Commission. India is therefore becoming a study-abroad destination for outsiders.

4. Wide Variety of Courses- As India offers hundreds of diverse programs, it is getting noticed as an exceptional destination for students from different social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. The is a big list of UG courses in India across streams in ARTS, COMMERCE, and SCIENCE that students can study.

5. Acquisition of Relevant Skills to Boost Career Prospects- The old traditional teaching concept in India has been totally transformed and changed with current trends and diverse career options. The undergraduate programs offer the best grooming for students before they step into their professional careers.

What Is the Term Graduate Means?

The term Graduate means a student has completed the undergraduate degree and is eligible for higher studies like a Master’s degree or PhD. Graduate students can start working if they want to, but most of the students go for even higher education. A graduate degree, including master's degrees, doctorates, and PhDs, provides an advanced understanding of a specific topic or field and demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning that many employers value. Those who decide to enroll in graduate school often do so with a set of focused, career-oriented goals, which sets the stage for a significantly different type of educational environment than one might experience during an undergraduate career.

What Is the Next Step After Graduation?

Students can start working just after completing their bachelor’s degree, but most of the students decide to go to higher education institutions for Higher studies. Many students go abroad, and many come to India from abroad as well. Graduation is usually an exciting time for students to choose a life path according to their wishes. While getting an entry-level position in a relevant field is sometimes a popular choice, there are various ways to use your time after graduation. Knowing what to do after graduation and the different options available can help you make better decisions and improve your chances of personal and professional fulfilment. Nowadays, most students are pursuing MBA after completing their undergraduate program as MBA is the most convenient option for every student from different backgrounds in Arts, Commerce, and Science. But there are so many different options available for the students to go for after completing their graduation like M.com, M.sc, M.A, in normal subjects as well.

Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate in Points


In undergraduate programs, you’ll often have hundreds of students in one class and you’ll often never get to know most of the students in that class.

Graduate programs are a lot more competitive, though and they only take a small number of students each year, for example, 15 to 30 students depending upon the college.


In undergraduate programs, attendance is completely optional. so you can still pass your courses even if you don’t show up to class but still complete your assignments and exams. Sometimes there are marks associated with going to class or participating, but for the most part, you can skip class with no consequences.

In graduate school, though, professors expect you to attend every single class, and they’re going to know if you don’t show up to class because of the small batch strength.


In undergraduate programs, professors are generally going to expect there to be a normal distribution of scores where most people will fall somewhere in the middle and get average marks.

But in Graduate schools, students are really expected to be high achievers and most professors will expect students to get good marks in their classes.


In Undergraduate programs, you’ll generally go to class and learn passively by listening to lectures.

While there are lectures as well in Graduate schools, there’s also a lot more discussion and activities to do and that definitely means that you need to make sure you’ve done your readings and your assignments so you’re able to participate in the discussions and it’s not just enough to do the readings you also have to really make sure you understand them in great depth so you can form an opinion and a stance on the topic for these discussions.


So undergraduate degrees have courses that you have to take for your major, but you generally get to choose what you want to take each semester and do them at your own pace or whichever semester you want to take them. In Undergraduate programs, there are also several electives that you get to take in order to complete your major.

Graduate programs, on the other hand, are a lot more structured, and there’s usually a set number of courses that you have to take each semester there’s less flexibility when you take those courses, and there are also much fewer electives to take.


In an undergraduate program, you can apply and start doing any degree, and then in your second year, you can switch and start doing any other subject.

But You can’t generally change your mind about your graduate program once you’ve gotten to it, and this is because the graduate programs are a lot more specific


Undergraduate degrees will take about four years of study.

Master’s degrees will take one to three years of study, and PhD’s will take about five to seven years of study. The master’s degree will generally take a shorter amount of time, and the PhD will take a longer amount of time than the undergraduate degree.


In undergraduate programs, you generally get courses where you learn the information and then get tested on it, or you apply the knowledge that you learned through an assignment like an essay or a project. Getting work experience is generally seen as optional and not a lot of students do it for a variety of reasons.

Graduate school, on the other hand, is a good combination of learning theories and getting that hands-on training that you can apply once you finish your program. Most graduate programs will offer you an internship or other useful training or get you to do a research project with a supervisor, like a thesis or dissertation.


In conclusion, it is equally important to do an Undergraduate degree and a post-graduate degree for a better chance of getting a highly-paid job and job stability in today’s world. There are many people idly sitting even after completing a PhD so it is also necessary to stay attentive in class during your undergraduate, graduate, or any higher studies, not just for the sake of marks but for your betterment. While a student can get a job at any stage of their life after completing matriculation, it is helpful for the students if they study and learn things at a higher and more advanced standard.


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"Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 15 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-undergraduate-and-graduate-1294>.

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