There are qualifications in thousands of subjects at different levels. Qualifications can be academic, work-related or job-related.

In England, there are nine qualification levels. The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) for general and vocational qualifications is regulated by Ofqual. The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

Level Qualifications
8 Doctorates, eg, Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil or PhD)
Level 8 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
7 Integrated Master’s Degrees, eg, Master of Engineering (MEng)
Master’s Degree, eg, Master of Arts (MA), Master of Ccience (MSc)
Level 7 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 7 NVQs
Postgraduate Certificates
Postgraduate Certificates in Education (PGCE)
Postgraduate Diplomas
6 Degree Apprenticeships
Degrees with Honours, eg, Bachelor of the Arts (BA) Hons, Bachelor of Science (BSc) Hons
Graduate Certificates and Diplomas
Level 6 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 6 NVQs
Ordinary Degrees without honours
5 Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE)
Foundation Degrees
Higher National Diplomas (HND)
Level 5 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 5 NVQs
4 Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE)
Higher Apprenticeships
Higher National Certificates (HNC)
Level 4 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 4 NVQs
3 A and AS levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma
Advanced Apprenticeships
Applied General
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Level 3 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 3 ESOL
Level 3 National certificates and Diplomas
Level 3 NVQs
Music Grades 6-8
Tech Levels
2 CSE - Grade 1
GCSEs Grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*-C
Intermediate Apprenticeships
Level 2 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 2 ESOL
Level 2 Essential Skills
Level 2 Functional Skills
Level 2 National Certificates and Diplomas
Level 2 NVQs
Music Grades 4 and 5
O Level Grades A, B or C
1 First Certificate
GCSEs Grades 3, 2, 1 or D-G
Level 1 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 1 ESOL
Level 1 Essential Skills
Level 1 Functional Skills
Level 1 NVQs
Music Grades 1-3
Entry Entry Level Award
Entry Level Certificate (ELC)
Entry Level Diplomas
Entry Level English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Entry Level Essential Skills
Entry Level Functional Skills 
Skills for Life

Entry Level qualifications

Entry Level qualifications are available at three sub-levels - 1, 2 and 3. Entry Level 3 is the most difficult.

GCSEs - General Certificate of Secondary Education

These are the main qualifications that you could expect to take at the end of Year 11, but they can also be studied in schools and colleges through day or evening classes, or by distance learning. GCSEs are available in the traditional academic or work-related subjects. GCSE (short courses) are equivalent to half a full GCSE but are only available in a limited number of subjects in some schools.

In England, reforms to GCSEs being phased in include new subject content and a new grading system.

A and AS Levels

A and AS Level qualifications are Level 3 qualifications. AS Levels are freestanding qualifications and no longer count towards the full A Level.

In England, reforms to A Levels being phased in include new course subjects and revised course content for existing subjects.  

Degrees, Foundation Degrees and HNDs

Degrees, Foundation Degrees and HNDs are higher education qualifications that you could study at universities, some further education colleges and colleges of higher education. You might then choose to study towards a Postgraduate or other higher level qualifications.

This page is intended to give only a brief overview of the major qualifications available and doesn't include every type of qualification available. For more information, visit the Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) website. Ofqual is the Government body responsible for regulating qualifications, examinations and assesments in England.