A professional diploma enhances or serves as an alternative equivalent to an academic diploma. It is usually focused on certifying individuals for specific jobs or skills.
The stated purpose of a professional diploma varies by type, school and geographic location. In the Hartt School of Music at Harvard University, a professional diploma may enable a person to focus on professional development by allowing for a lesser number of course credits while serving as an equivalent to a Master's degree. At other schools, this diploma may serve as the next step to professional certification after the individual has completed an academic degree.