What qualification levels mean (2024)

There are 9 qualification levels.

Entry level

Each entry level qualification is available at three sub-levels - 1, 2 and 3. Entry level 3 is the most difficult.

Entry level qualifications are:

  • entry level award
  • entry level certificate (ELC)
  • entry level diploma
  • entry level English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • entry level essential skills
  • entry level functional skills
  • Skills for Life

Level 1

Level 1 qualifications are:

  • first certificate
  • GCSE - grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, G
  • level 1 award
  • level 1 certificate
  • level 1 diploma
  • level 1 ESOL
  • level 1 essential skills
  • level 1 functional skills
  • level 1 national vocational qualification (NVQ)
  • music grades 1, 2 and 3

Level 2

Level 2 qualifications are:

  • CSE - grade 1
  • GCSE - grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*, A, B, C
  • intermediate apprenticeship
  • level 2 award
  • level 2 certificate
  • level 2 diploma
  • level 2 ESOL
  • level 2 essential skills
  • level 2 functional skills
  • level 2 national certificate
  • level 2 national diploma
  • level 2 NVQ
  • music grades 4 and 5
  • O level - grade A, B or C

Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are:

  • A level
  • access to higher education diploma
  • advanced apprenticeship
  • applied general
  • AS level
  • international Baccalaureate diploma
  • level 3 award
  • level 3 certificate
  • level 3 diploma
  • level 3 ESOL
  • level 3 national certificate
  • level 3 national diploma
  • level 3 NVQ
  • music grades 6, 7 and 8
  • T Level
  • tech level

Level 4

Level 4 qualifications are:

  • certificate of higher education (CertHE)
  • higher apprenticeship
  • higher national certificate (HNC)
  • level 4 award
  • level 4 certificate
  • level 4 diploma
  • level 4 NVQ

Level 5

Level 5 qualifications are:

  • diploma of higher education (DipHE)
  • foundation degree
  • higher national diploma (HND)
  • level 5 award
  • level 5 certificate
  • level 5 diploma
  • level 5 NVQ

Level 6

Level 6 qualifications are:

  • degree apprenticeship
  • degree with honours - for example bachelor of the arts (BA) hons, bachelor of science (BSc) hons
  • graduate certificate
  • graduate diploma
  • level 6 award
  • level 6 certificate
  • level 6 diploma
  • level 6 NVQ
  • ordinary degree without honours

Level 7

Level 7 qualifications are:

  • integrated master’s degree, for example master of engineering (MEng)
  • level 7 award
  • level 7 certificate
  • level 7 diploma
  • level 7 NVQ
  • master’s degree, for example master of arts (MA), master of science (MSc)
  • postgraduate certificate
  • postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)
  • postgraduate diploma

Level 8

Level 8 qualifications are:

  • doctorate, for example doctor of philosophy (PhD or DPhil)
  • level 8 award
  • level 8 certificate
  • level 8 diploma
What qualification levels mean (2024)


What do the levels of qualification mean? ›

The higher the level, the harder the qualification. The levels are based on the standards of knowledge, skill and competence needed for each qualification. Qualifications at the same level can be very different in terms of content and the length of time they take to complete.

What is level 7 qualification? ›

Level 7 refers to a level of education equivalent to a master's degree, and is generally attained in a centre for further education. Examples of Level 7 qualifications include: Master's degree. Integrated master's degree. Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)

What is a level 3 qualification? ›

Level 3 qualifications are: A level. access to higher education diploma. advanced apprenticeship. applied general.

What is a level 4 qualification? ›

Level 4 qualifications are equivalent to the first year of a bachelor's degree and are considered advanced learning. They are typically taken after college A-levels, an Access to Higher Education programme or similar Level 3 courses.

What are Level 5 qualifications? ›

A level 5 qualification is a higher education certificate that demonstrates learning at university level. Individuals who take these certificates gain a strong foundation in the subject area. Level 5 education and training can be academic, vocational or a mixture of both, such as foundation degrees.

How to answer what is your qualification? ›

When answering a question about your qualifications, always try to use examples. This not only explains why you are qualified but describes those skills and abilities put into action. When giving an example from your past work experience, focus on how your use of that skill or ability brought success to the company.

What is a level 8 equivalent to? ›

This qualifications at RQF Level 8 represent practical knowledge, skills, capabilities and competences that are assessed in academic terms as being equivalent to: Doctorate, for example Doctor of Philosophy ( PhD or DPhil ) Level 8 Award. Level 8 Certificate.

Is level 8 a degree? ›

A Level 8 is known as an honours degree. They are generally four years in duration, with some exceptions. For example, Medicine is five or six years, Home Economics Teaching is 5 years and Arts degrees are often three years. A level 8 is the highest level of qualification that a school leaver can apply to.

What is the highest level of qualification? ›

A doctorate is the highest level of degree that can be obtained and is Level 8 on the educational scale.

What is A-Level 2 qualification equivalent to? ›

A Level 2 qualification represents a specific level of academic or vocational achievement recognised by an accrediting body in the United Kingdom. Broadly equivalent to GCSEs in academic terms, Level 2 now aligns with a broad range of vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.

What level is a master's? ›

Master's degree – Level 7

Master's degrees come with titles such as Master of Arts – MA, Master of Science – MSc, Master of Engineering – MEng, Master of Research – MRes and Master of Laws – LLM.

Does A-Level 3 count as a degree? ›

Higher Education is any course or training which is at Level 4 or above, with Level 6 being equivalent to a degree. You can see all qualifications and levels in a grid by following this link to Careerpilot but, for comparison, Level 2 is GCSEs 4-9, Level 3 is A levels/Level 3 BTECs and T Levels.

What are the highest level of qualification? ›

Doctoral Degrees. A doctorate represents the highest degree you can get in academia.

What is a full level 2 qualification? ›

A full Level 2 achievement is equivalent to 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C. A full Level 3 achievement is equivalent to 2 or more A-levels. Historically there has been substantial growth in the number of full Level 2 achievements – up from around 116,800 in 2003/04 to 494,100 in 2013/14.

What is the meaning of qualification status? ›

Qualification status. Definition: An indicator of formal certification of qualifications.

What is the meaning of qualification of program level? ›

A programme is defined by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) as 'a purposeful and structured set of learning experiences that lead to a qualification', and a qualification is defined as 'the formal recognition and certification of learning achievement'.

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