We have two different kinds of degree-granting institutions in the US. Some are Colleges and some are Universities. The actual differences are a bit a fuzzy.
Student or Learner
I learned that "degree" is obtained from four-year course universities, while "diploma"from two-year course junior or community colleges. What is "degree" obtained from "Spelman college"? Is it because Americans sometimes say "college" even for "university"?
Born in Macon, Georgia, in 1949, the youngest of five children, Tina McElroy grew up listening to her mother read books and to her grandfather tell stories. She earned an English degree from Spelman College in Atlanta in 1971. After graduating, she joined the Atlanta Constitution’'s copy desk - the first black woman on the newspaper’'s staff. 1n nearly two decades with the daily, she supervised news design, wrote entertainment features, and reported news. She also worked as an editor and copy editor for the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina. 1n 1982, she began writing freelance articles and newspaper columns. She instructed people at writing workshops at Brunswick College, Spelman College, and Emory University. She contributed to the CBS Sunday Morning program her “" Postcards from Georgia."
As far as I understand, you get a diploma from high school and you get a degree from a college or university. Even a community college grants two-year "associate degrees."
To me, a diploma is the actual paper certificate you receive. It can be for completion of any kind of coursework - high school through doctorate.
A degree is more just the status of recognized completion. It gives you those little letters to put at the end of your name.
In fact, during a college commencement ceremony there will be the "presentation of diplomas", where the graduates are physically handed their diplomas. The diplomas are presented by degree earned - for example, they'll announce names of all the graduates who earned associates of science degrees, then those earning associates of applied arts, etc.
As far as I know, this is true regardless if it's a 4 year or 2 year institution.
Apparently these words many different things in different places, and perhaps even in the same place.
A degree could be anything. in Australia, the post-High School (post-matriculation) education usually goes Certificate (1 year), Diploma (2-3), Bachelor degree (3+), Bachelor degree with Honours (4+), Graduate (or Postgraduate) Certificate (1 year postgrad.), Graduate Diploma (2-3 post-grad), Masters degree, Masters degree with Honours (not so common these days), Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD), Higher Doctorate.
To me, the original means a Bachelors degree, probably a BA, ie. Arts.