Higher education in Ghana

Unlike Dutch higher education, Ghanaian higher education is not divided into and . Some Ghanaian higher education institutions can offer both types of education. This often means that for each diploma we have to determine whether it is HBO or WO. Below, we describe the diplomas that we often see.

Higher National Diploma

Technical universities, polytechnics and colleges offer study programmes for a Higher National Diploma (HND). Students take their exams via the National Board for Professional and Technician Examinations (NABPTEX) and also get the official diploma from the NABPTEX. This may change, because NABPTEX has recently merged with COTVET.

  • : 3 years.
  • Content: 5 subjects are compulsory:
    • African studies;
    • communication studies;
    • computer literacy;
    • entrepreneurship;
    • research methodology.
      In addition, students take subjects from a field of study they choose. This usually concerns business, technology or applied sciences.
  • Admission requirements: a West African Senior School Certificate with certain study results or a Certificate II. Often, the admission requirements are less strict than the admission requirements for a bachelor’s programme at a university.
  • Function of the diploma: work. Students holding an HND with good study results may get access to the 2nd or 3rd year of a bachelor's programme in a related field of study.
  • Diploma: a Higher National Diploma, usually from the NABPTEX.

We compare a Higher National Diploma to an associate degree or 2 years of HBO.

Bachelor’s degree

Mainly universities offer bachelor’s programmes. Bachelor of Technology programmes are mostly offered by technical universities and polytechnics.

  • Duration: usually 4 years. There are exceptions:
    • Study programmes preceded by an HND (top-up) take 2 or 3 years to complete.
    • The architecture programme sometimes takes 5 years.
    • Medical study programmes take 6 years.
  • Content: profession-oriented or research-oriented subjects and sometimes an internship and/or thesis as well.
  • Admission requirements:
    • For most bachelor’s programmes, students need a West African Senior Secondary School Certificate with a C6 or higher for at least 6 subjects and a total score (aggregate score) of at most 36.
    • Students holding an HND can sometimes enter the 2nd or 3rd year of a bachelor’s programme in a related field of study.
  • Function of the diploma: access to master’s programmes and work.
  • Diploma: a bachelor’s degree, such as:
    • Bachelor of Arts;
    • Bachelor of Business Administration;
    • Bachelor of Education;
    • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery;
    • Bachelor of Science;
    • Bachelor of Technology.
      Some medical bachelor’s programmes are concluded with a doctor’s degree rather than a bachelor’s degree:
    • Doctor of Optometry;
    • Doctor of Pharmacy;
    • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

We compare a bachelor’s degree (duration: 4 years) to an HBO bachelor’s degree or 2 years of WO. This depends on the content of the study programme.

We compare a Bachelor of Technology to an HBO bachelor’s degree.

We compare a bachelor’s degree (duration: 5 years) to an HBO bachelor’s degree or a WO bachelor’s degree. This depends on the content of the study programme.

We compare a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery to 1 year of a 3-year master’s programme in medicine.

Taught master’s degree

Study programmes for a taught master's degree may be profession-oriented or research-oriented, but often students pay no or little attention to academic research and/or writing a thesis. This differs from the Master of Philosophy (MPhil), a research master's degree.

  • Duration: 1 or 2 years.
  • Content: research-oriented or profession-oriented subjects, sometimes an internship and/or thesis as well. A 2-year master’s programme is usually research-oriented.
  • Admission requirements: a bachelor’s degree with at least second-class honours (lower division). Usually, the bachelor’s degree needs to be obtained in a related field of study.
  • Function of the diploma: access to PhD programmes and work.
  • Diploma: a taught master’s degree, such as:
    • Master of Arts;
    • Master of Business Administration;
    • Master of Education;
    • Master of Science;
    • Master of Technology.

We compare a taught master’s degree (duration: 1 year) to an HBO master’s degree or a WO bachelor’s degree. This depends on the content of the study programme.

We compare a Master of Technology to an HBO master’s degree.

We compare a taught master’s degree (duration: 2 years) to an HBO master’s degree or a (1-year) WO master’s degree. This depends on the content of the study programme.

Master of Philosophy

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is a research master. MPhil programmes are always research-oriented.

  • Duration: 2 years.
  • Content: in the 1st year, students usually follow subjects in the chosen field of study. In the 2nd year, students do research and write a thesis.
  • Admission requirements: usually a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study, sometimes a taught master’s degree . Often, there are extra requirements, such as certain grades or an entrance exam.
  • Function of the diploma: access to the 1st or 2nd year of a PhD programme.
  • Diploma: Master of Philosophy.

We compare a Master of Philosophy to a WO master’s degree.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Students conclude a PhD programme with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

  • Duration: 3 or 4 years.
  • Content: in the 1st year of the programme, students follow subjects, such as research methods. In the final 2 to 3 years of the programme, they do research and write a dissertation. Sometimes PhD students have to give seminars for bachelor's or master's students.
  • Admission requirements: a master’s degree with good study results. Students holding a bachelor’s degree first need to complete 1 year of master’s subjects. After that, they are informed whether they can continue on to the PhD programme.
  • Diploma: Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as: PhD.