What Exactly Is a Graduate Diploma and How Can It Advance My Career?

What Exactly Is a Graduate Diploma and How Can It Advance My Career?
What Exactly Is a Graduate Diploma and How Can It Advance My Career?

Earning a graduate diploma can be a valuable way to deepen your knowledge, advance your career, or transition to a new field. With a convenient and flexible format, most programs are tailored for working adults. You can earn a graduate diploma in less than a year and be on your way to reaching your career goals.

In this blog, we will define what a graduate diploma is and why it might be worth considering. Then we will take a closer look at what diplomas are offered in the area of public safety at Wilfrid Laurier University. The questions we will address are:

What Is a Graduate Diploma?

A graduate diploma is a postsecondary credential for eligible students who have earned a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the program, it usually takes six months to a year to complete the requirements for a diploma. Typically these programs are offered in a format that allows students to work full-time. Students pursuing a graduate diploma often have at least a few years of work experience.

Why Should I Earn a Graduate Diploma?

A graduate diploma can help you advance your career by expanding your expertise and giving you a deeper understanding of your chosen discipline. You’ll be better prepared for leadership opportunities and future promotions.

It’s helpful to think of a graduate diploma as an “educational boost” to your work experience and undergraduate degree. It provides skills and knowledge to help you achieve professional goals—and stand out in the eyes of employers.

Earning a graduate diploma can also help you demonstrate to employers your understanding and familiarity with the industry. In fact, it might be necessary to earn a new credential to demonstrate your readiness to employers for career progression.

How Does a Graduate Diploma Relate to Other Graduate Education?

Earning a graduate diploma can also be a great way to explore the possibility of earning a graduate degree, such as a master’s or doctorate. In a diploma program, you will take advanced courses, work on solving complex problems, and “try out” life as a graduate student.

As you progress in the program, you can ask yourself questions such as: Are you enjoying the material and do you want to dig deeper? Have you been encouraged by your professors to earn a graduate degree? Are you finding that additional schooling could help you advance or transition your career even more effectively?

A graduate diploma program can help answer these and other questions about pursuing a graduate degree. Plus, some programs allow you to transfer diploma credits toward a graduate degree. Therefore, should you decide to pursue further education after a graduate diploma, you will have a head start and be able to finish more quickly.

What Kind of Graduate Diploma Can I Earn in Public Safety?

There are several types of graduate diplomas in the area of public safety. These programs can help you grow your career in law enforcement, emergency prevention and management, border regulation, national security, and more.

At Laurier, you can pursue public safety graduate diplomas in these areas:

What Does Each Graduate Diploma Program Offer and What Are the Career Outlooks?

Below we unpack what you can expect to learn in each graduate diploma program and what the general career outlook is for each. All five programs can be taken 100 percent online. This means you can continue to work full-time while earning your diploma. The curriculum is developed by public safety professionals, ensuring up-to-date and relevant coursework designed to directly help you in your career.

Graduate Diploma in Border Strategies

Graduate Diploma in Border Strategies

Public safety professionals in careers related to border strategies are committed to keeping Canada's borders secure. For example, those working for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) ensure borders are secure, safe, and closely monitored for the protection of Canada. Border workers engage in close dialogue with border officers from the United States. They also monitor customs and migration-related issues, enforce national laws and policies, and prevent criminal and illegal activity.

By pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Border Strategies, you will learn about contemporary issues in public safety, immigration, and border security. The curriculum will develop your understanding of Canada's legislation and policies related to the border. You’ll study migration and immigration trends and the economic and political motivations for crossing borders illegally and legally. You will also review criminal activities associated with border crossing, including drug smuggling and human trafficking.

A Graduate Diploma in Border Strategies can help you join and climb the professional ranks of the CBSA. Often, students pursuing this kind of credential are already working in a related field and are looking to advance in their career.

Border workers are not only well paid but are also protected by the Public Service Alliance of Canada union. According to Public Safety Canada, first-year trainees can expect to make $64,234 to $71,525 per year, and certified officers can expect to make $69,486 to $82,411 per year. At the highest levels, officers may receive as much as $125,381 annually.

There are also more specialized roles within the CBSA, such as security dog handlers, with their own pay scales. You will be equipped to pursue customs-related roles for private organizations as well. Salary levels will depend on your years of experience, current labour trends, education, and other factors.

According to Canada’s national employment service Job Bank, the outlook is positive for careers in the areas of immigration and border services, especially in particular regions of the country.

Learn More About Our GDip in Border Strategies

Graduate Diploma in Countering Crime

Graduate Diploma in Countering Crime

Workers in countering crime support the public safety of their communities in a number of ways, including crime prevention, law enforcement, and criminal rehabilitation. Crime specialists work with multiple organizations and other professionals to ultimately reduce crime and keep Canada safe. They are involved in many areas of criminal activity, including, but not limited to:

  • organized crime
  • illicit drugs
  • contraband tobacco
  • human trafficking

By pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Countering Crime, you will take courses in understanding, managing, and applying criminal intelligence. You will develop skills to navigate diverse communities and explore issues, challenges, and opportunities related to Canadian public safety.

A graduate diploma can help you advance your career in the areas of policing, law enforcement, security, criminal intelligence, and more. Often, students pursuing a diploma already have some experience in policing or crime prevention.

There are various career paths related to countering crime, so the employment outlook will vary. For example, a starting cadet for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police earns a salary of $53,144 per year. However, by the end of 36 months of service, the salary will have typically increased to $86,110 per year. While detective or criminal investigators enjoy a median salary of $61,463 per year, some make as much as $96,000 per year.

According to Canada’s national employment service Job Bank, for those looking to pursue careers as police officers, the outlook varies depending on the province. Further, according to the Job Bank, for those interested in careers in social, community, and correctional services the outlook is generally good depending on the province. Having advanced education such as a graduate diploma gives applicants an advantage in seeking out these positions.

Learn More About Our GDip in Countering Crime

Graduate Diploma in Emergency Management

Graduate Diploma in Emergency Management

Professionals working in fields related to emergency management are committed to protecting their communities from natural, human-induced, and technological disasters and emergencies. They collaborate with a network of provincial, territorial, and national organizations and stakeholders to develop and manage policies, frameworks, and response initiatives for disasters and emergencies. They can work more specifically in several areas such as emergency prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and disaster recovery.

By pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Emergency Management, you will develop a clearer understanding of the nuanced roles within government and private organizations for protecting citizens from natural and human-made disasters. You will study the history of emergency planning and look closely at various prevention strategies. Coursework also addresses potential challenges and obstacles emergency management professionals currently face in planning and preparedness.

A graduate diploma can help you advance your career in the areas of emergency management, health emergency planning, fire, earthquake, flood prevention/response, and many related areas.

Salaries vary depending on the specific role within the emergency management field, years of experience, and location. An emergency management director, for example, earns an average annual salary of $76,929, according to Neuvoo. According to listings on Indeed, a health emergency planning specialist can make from around $87,000 to around $100,000 per year. And a fire safety and flood specialist can make from around $45,000 to $95,000 per year.

Learn More About Our GDip in Emergency Management

Graduate Diploma in GIS and Data Analytics

Professionals in fields related to GIS (geographic information systems) and data analytics utilize technology to glean actionable intelligence. They use this knowledge to help inform the management, response, and planning around crime, emergencies, and natural disasters within a given area. GIS and data analytics specialists use information to determine the risks and trends of a specific area to influence policies, responses, and initiatives.

By pursuing a Graduate Diploma in GIS and Data Analytics, you will gain tools for identifying and analyzing the relationships between crime, natural disasters, and emergency events. Coursework considers how criminology theories play in the development and use of GIS for crime analysis. You will also develop the technical and analytical skills needed to synthesize qualitative and quantitative data to map out crime and emergency/disaster patterns in certain areas.

A graduate diploma can help you advance your career in the areas of public safety-related cartography, criminal intelligence, emergency management planning/response, and more. While many pursuing this diploma have previous experience in criminal intelligence and GIS and data analytics, some enter this area of public safety from other analytics careers.

According to Indeed, the average salary for GIS analysts is $40.84 per hour, or roughly $85,000 per year. The exact salary depends on years of experience as well as the province.

The discipline of GIS and data analytics is critical to Canada's public safety. Analysts specializing in these areas will find roles in emergency management; fire, rescue, and EMS teams; law enforcement; 911 bureaus; and other organizations committed to both local and national safety.

Learn More About Our GDip in GIS and Data Analytics

Graduate Diploma in National Security

Graduate Diploma in National Security

Workers in national security work to keep Canadian citizens safe and secure from complex threats and dangers. They work in areas such as counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, transportation security, counter-proliferation of weapons, and more. They collaborate with stakeholders in various Canadian provinces and countries to ensure the safety and security of Canada.

By pursuing a Graduate Diploma in National Security, you will explore complex issues related to terrorism and international crime. You’ll study the tools, methodologies, and technologies used to expose, prevent, and manage criminal and terrorist activities. Coursework will broaden your understanding of the different roles organizations and stakeholders play across Canada and beyond to maintain national security.

A diploma can help you advance your career in the areas of counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, criminal intelligence, and many related fields. The salaries of national security careers vary depending on the role, years of experience, and location. For example, an advanced standing role in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service may offer a salary as high as $133,950. Roles in the Communications Security Establishment are similar, with advanced standing roles as high as $133,101.

Learn More About Our GDip in National Security

Earning a Public Safety Graduate Diploma from Laurier

Earn a graduate diploma from Laurier in Border Strategies, Countering Crime, Emergency Management, GIS and Data Analytics, or National Security. A diploma can help you gain pertinent, robust knowledge in public safety—highlighting your value to employers.

By pursuing a public safety program at Laurier, you will:

  • Take courses designed by professionals and academics with years of experience in the field.
  • Apply what you are learning in the classroom to the workplace right away.
  • Enjoy a flexible and convenient 100 percent online format that takes less than a year to complete.
  • Earn your diploma while working from anywhere in the country.

Lastly, you can apply credits from your graduate diploma to a master’s degree to streamline your advanced education. Learn more about Laurier’s online graduate diplomas or speak with one of our enrolment advisors to get started on your path to advancing your career.

Learn More About Our Public Safety Graduate Diplomas