University and Polytechnic in Nigeria: Which one is Better?

A lot of young Nigerians have been wondering about: Universities and Polytechnics, which one is better? Are you among the people that have been asking the question? Then ask no more, this article is exactly what you need to satisfy your curiosities, so keep reading this article.

Universities and Polytechnics are the most attended higher institutions in Nigeria. There are over 170 universities (public and private) and 120 polytechnics in Nigeria (public and private).

One might rush to the conclusion that a university is better than a polytechnic or that a polytechnic is better than a university. This article will answer this question from a subjective approach and without any bias, leaving the reader to decide which is best depending on what he/she wants.

Are Polytechnics better than Universities?

Are Universities better than Polytechnics?

Which is the best option for Nigerian Students?

Polytechnics and Universities: Definitions


Polytechnics are higher learning institutions that qualify as an institute of technology or vocational training. The main focus of a polytechnic is to train students in experimental and practical learning, give them practical skills, and also give them vocational training. A typical polytechnic program can be completed in 2 years and at the end of the program, a diploma is awarded.


Universities, on the other hand, are institutions of higher learning that provide facilities for teaching and research and are authorized to grant academic degrees.

It typically takes 4 years to complete a university program, and students are awarded a bachelor’s degree at the completion of the program.

University focuses on theoretical aspects of a program or courses, offers different kinds of degrees,

The Difference between Polytechnics and Universities in Nigeria

1. Content of Degree

One of the more prominent differences between a university and a polytechnic is the type of degree awarded at the completion of studies in these different institutions. Universities award bachelor’s Degrees while Polytechnics Awards Diplomas (ND and HND).

For international studies, some schools in other countries do not accept HND (Higher National Diploma) for a Master’s degree, this is one of the disadvantages for Polytechnic graduates.

B.Sc holders have higher employment prospects than HND holders as most Nigerian employers prefer B.Sc holders.

Moreso, many companies and employers recognize BSc more than HND, and they tend to choose BSc graduate over HND graduate.

2. Duration of Study

Another factor that differentiates universities and Polytechnics is the duration it takes to complete a program. The minimum duration for completion in university is 4 years, it may be more depending on the course, for example, medical courses and engineering courses usually take longer to complete.

The minimum duration for completion of the program in a polytechnic is 2 years, it may extend to four years if a student decides to further study to earn an HND. That is 2 years for National Diploma, a year for Industrial Training, and another two years for HND, totaling 5 years.

3. Affordability

Most Nigerian Universities are more expensive than Polytechnics. The economic state of Nigeria is not too stable and one has to consider the cost to ascertain which of these two schools o higher education will suit their pockets.

4. Mode of Admission

Gaining admission into a university is more difficult and lesser than a Polytechnic. Polytechnics require UTME scores and other requirements. Getting admission into a university requires your UTME score, post-UTME score (for some universities), and other requirements.

Polytechnics in Nigeria accept 150-180 JAMB scores, but universities in Nigeria accept nothing less than a 180-270 JAMB score.

5. Content of Study

Polytechnics are more practically-oriented, while Universities are more theoretically-oriented.  Polytechnics are more focused on the practical aspects of a course or program, and University focuses on the theoretical aspect of a program or course.

Meanwhile, if the course you want to study involves more practical than theory, a polytechnic might be your best choice.

Universities May Be Better Than Polytechnic.

There are several downsides to polytechnic education. Let’s take a look at them.

1. BSC holders spend fewer number of years in total than HND  holders who spend 5 years (together with IT). However, some courses in universities require more than 4 years e.g  Medical courses, Engineering, and Agriculture

2. Universities offer more art courses than polytechnics.  For instance, polytechnics do not offer  Philosophy, Linguistics, Law, English, etc.

3. Universities also offer more science/medical courses than polytechnics, there are no polytechnics in Nigeria that offer Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy.

4. More companies acknowledge BSC (degree) than HND, this can be confirmed by the requirements for jobs.