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Eligibility vs. Qualification: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 14, 2023
Eligibility refers to meeting specific criteria to participate or obtain something; Qualification is about possessing skills, knowledge, or credentials for a particular role or task.

Key Differences

Eligibility and Qualification, while closely linked in many contexts, have distinct meanings. Eligibility centers around the idea of being suitable or allowed to do something based on meeting a set of specified criteria. For instance, age might determine someone's eligibility to vote or drive. On the other hand, qualification leans more towards the possession of certain skills, credentials, or knowledge that fits an individual for a particular role, job, or task.
Imagine a job scenario. Eligibility may refer to the foundational criteria someone needs to even apply, such as being a certain age or having the right to work in a country. Qualification, conversely, would delve deeper, looking at the applicant's specific degrees, experiences, and skills that make them apt for the role. While eligibility is about having permission or the right to do something, qualification is about competency and capability.
In many settings, especially professional ones, both eligibility and qualification go hand in hand. A person might be eligible to apply for a medical license due to their age and citizenship, but without the requisite qualifications—like a medical degree and training—they won't be granted one. Similarly, in sports, an athlete's eligibility could be tied to their age or amateur status, while their qualification could depend on their performance or ranking.
It's crucial to understand that while all qualified individuals may be eligible for a task or role, not all eligible individuals might be qualified. Being eligible is about meeting basic criteria, while being qualified is about possessing the requisite expertise or credentials for a specific endeavor.

Comparison Chart


Meeting criteria to participate or obtain something.
Possessing skills or credentials for a role or task.


Broader criteria like age, nationality.
Specific skills, degrees, experiences.

Associated with

Permission or the right to do something.
Competency or capability in a domain.

In the Context of Jobs

Basic criteria to apply.
Specific skills or expertise required for the role.

Requirement Type

Often non-negotiable, binary criteria.
Can vary in levels or depth of expertise.

Eligibility and Qualification Definitions


Possessing the characteristics required for a right or privilege.
Her grades granted her eligibility for the honor roll.


A skill or accomplishment making someone suitable for a role.
His engineering degree was a key qualification for the job.


The right to receive or participate based on specific criteria.
Due to his age, he gained eligibility to vote.


The act of becoming fit or competent for a task.
After years of study, she gained qualification as a pilot.


Suitability based on a predefined set of conditions.
Her nationality confirmed her eligibility for the scholarship.


The act of qualifying or the condition of being qualified
Qualification for the tournament will be hard.


Meeting the stipulations necessary for an entitlement.
The team's win ensured their eligibility for the playoffs.


A quality, ability, or accomplishment that makes a person suitable for a particular position or task.


Being fit or suitable for a specific role or event.
His clean record ensured his eligibility for the government position.


A condition or circumstance that must be met or complied with
Fulfilled the qualifications for registering to vote.


Qualified or entitled to be chosen
Eligible to run for office.
Eligible for retirement.


A restriction or modification
A statement hedged with several qualifications.


Desirable and worthy of choice, especially for marriage
An eligible bachelor.


The act or process of qualifying for a position, achievement etc.
Qualification for this organization is extraordinarily difficult.


(Football) Allowed under the rules to catch a forward pass.


An ability or attribute that aids someone's chances of qualifying for something; specifically, completed professional training.
What are your qualifications for this job?


A person who is eligible.


(UK) A certificate, diploma, or degree awarded after successful completion of a course, training, or exam.


The state, quality, or the fact of being eligible.


A clause or condition which qualifies something; a modification, a limitation.
I accept your offer, but with the following qualification.


The quality of being eligible; eligibleness; as, the eligibility of a candidate; the eligibility of an offer of marriage.


(obsolete) A quality or attribute.


The state of being eligible


The act of qualifying, or the condition of being qualified.


The quality or state of being eligible;
Eligibility of a candidate for office
Eligibility for a loan


That which qualifies; any natural endowment, or any acquirement, which fits a person for a place, office, or employment, or which enables him to sustian any character with success; an enabling quality or circumstance; requisite capacity or possession.
There is no qualification for government but virtue and wisdom, actual or presumptive.


The act of limiting, or the state of being limited; that which qualifies by limiting; modification; restriction; hence, abatement; diminution; as, to use words without any qualification.


An attribute that must be met or complied with and that fits a person for something;
Her qualifications for the job are excellent
One of the qualifications for admission is an academic degree
She has the makings of fine musician


The act of modifying or changing the strength of some idea;
His new position involves a qualification of his party's platform


A statement that limits or restricts some claim;
He recommended her without any reservations


An attribute or quality enhancing one's abilities.
Her fluency in three languages was a valuable qualification.


A credential or achievement validating one's expertise.
He obtained a qualification in digital marketing.


A condition or stipulation that specifies or limits.
The contract had several qualifications to consider.


Can someone be eligible but not qualified?

Yes, a person might meet basic criteria (eligible) but lack specific skills (not qualified).

Is age often a factor in eligibility?

Yes, age can determine eligibility for things like voting, driving, or drinking.

Can qualifications be acquired?

Yes, qualifications can be acquired through education, training, or experience.

Can eligibility criteria change?

Yes, eligibility criteria can change based on rules, regulations, or policies.

Is eligibility often tied to rights or permissions?

Yes, eligibility often determines if someone has the right or permission to do something.

Are eligibility and qualification interchangeable?

No, while related, eligibility is about meeting criteria, and qualification is about possessing specific skills or credentials.

Is nationality a common eligibility criterion?

Yes, nationality can determine eligibility for things like jobs, scholarships, or government benefits.

Can one be overqualified?

Yes, possessing more qualifications than required can make one overqualified.

Are qualifications always needed for a job?

Not always, but they can increase chances of getting or succeeding in a job.

Can qualifications be innate?

Some innate talents can be considered qualifications, but often they're enhanced with training.

Can one have multiple qualifications for a role?

Yes, a role might require or benefit from multiple skills or credentials.

Do all scholarships have eligibility criteria?

Yes, scholarships typically have criteria to determine who can apply or receive them.

Do all jobs list required qualifications?

Most jobs list required or preferred qualifications, but some might focus on potential or fit.

Are qualifications always formal?

No, qualifications can be formal, like degrees, or informal, like experiences or skills.

Is eligibility a binary concept?

Often, yes. One either meets the criteria (eligible) or doesn't (ineligible).

Can qualifications expire?

Yes, some qualifications, especially certifications, may need renewal or updating.

Is experience considered a qualification?

Yes, experience in a domain can be a valuable qualification.

Can eligibility be restricted?

Yes, eligibility can be restricted based on specific criteria or stipulations.

Can one appeal if deemed ineligible?

Depending on the context, there might be appeal processes for eligibility decisions.

Is a driver's license an eligibility or qualification?

It's a qualification proving driving skills, but age or health might determine eligibility to obtain it.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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