PGCE vs PGDE: Which is Right for You?

Students attending a 'teacher education' course

Are you an aspiring or current teacher, and uncertain about whether to pursue a PGCE (Professional Graduate Certificate in Education) or a PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education)? 

In this blog we’ll explore the differences in teacher education courses and help you make an informed choice that aligns with your learning goals and career aspirations. We'll help you navigate the differences between PGCE and PGDE, offering insights into their structures, benefits, and potential outcomes. 

Whether you're already a teacher and are considering a new path, or a future educator mapping out your journey; this blog will provide clarity on the next steps for your career.


A PGCE and a PGDE are both advanced-level qualifications, designed to strengthen teaching expertise beyond the basic Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The main difference is in the number of credits awarded by each; PGCE courses award 60 credits at master’s degree level, whereas PGDE courses award 120 credits.

These credits can be contributed directly to a Master's degree, if you wish to pursue further study.

Both courses involve postgraduate-level study on teaching theory, and while a QTS certifies teaching in most schools in England or Wales, a PGCE/PGDE opens doors internationally. These qualifications are widely recognised as academic accreditations, and they go beyond the QTS by offering additional credits which requires more extensive assignment work. 

The choice between PGCE and PGDE ultimately depends on individual preferences, career goals, and the desired balance between theoretical knowledge and practical experiences in your study path. 

What is a PGCE course?

An internationally recognised qualification, a PGCE offers 60 credits that can contribute to a master's degree. It is not mandatory for teaching in England or Wales but provides a solid academic foundation and understanding of teaching theory. 

The part-time Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (Lifelong Learning) course at UCEN Manchester costs around £6000 for tuition fees and prepares individuals for roles like a primary or secondary school teacher, further education lecturer, or teacher trainer.

Note that UCEN Manchester students may be eligible to receive extra funding & support for their course – visit the Fees & Finance page to find out more. 

What is a PGDE course?

A step above the PGCE, PGDEs award 120 credits, which can also contribute to a master's degree. It involves more assignment work than a PGCE, with a greater focus on practical experience. 

Costing £9,250 for one year of full-time study, a PGDE can open doors to various career paths; including primary or secondary school teaching, school leadership roles, curriculum development, and educational research.

Should I do a PGCE or PGDE?

Whether you do a PGCE or a PGDE depends on your career goals, learning style, and commitment level. Aspiring or current teachers can choose the right course based on preferences; with PGCE typically being more classroom based and PGDE requiring more practical experience.

The choice not only shapes the trajectory of your educational journey but also influences the theoretical knowledge and practical experiences you will integrate into your teaching practice. By considering these distinctions, you can tailor your postgraduate education to align seamlessly with your professional aspirations.

Confused? Let us guide you! Reach out for advice and guidance on your teaching career journey.