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The purpose of the Bologna process (or Bologna accords) is to create the European higher education area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It is named after the place it was proposed, the University of Bolognamarker in the Italian city of Bolognamarker, with the signing in 1999 of the Bologna declaration by Ministers of Education from 29 European countries. This was opened up to other countries signatory to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe; further governmental meetings have been held in Praguemarker (2001), Berlinmarker (2003), Bergenmarker (2005), Londonmarker (2007) and Leuvenmarker (2009).

Before the signing of the Bologna declaration, the Magna Charta Universitatum had been issued at a meeting of university rectors celebrating the 900th anniversary of the University of Bolognamarker – and thus of (Western) European universities – in 1988. One year before the Bologna declaration, education ministers Claude Allegre (France), Jürgen Rüttgers (Germany), Luigi Berlinguer (Italy) and the Baroness Blackstone (UK) signed the Sorbonne declaration in Paris 1998, committing themselves to "harmonising the architecture of the European Higher Education system".

It is a common misconception that the Bologna Process is an EU initiative. The Bologna Process currently has 46 participating countries, whereas there are only 27 Member States of the EU. While the European Commissionmarker is an important contributor to the Bologna process, the Lisbon Recognition Convention was actually prepared by the Council of Europe and members of the Europe Region of UNESCOmarker.


Current signatories and thus members of the "European Higher Education Area" are :

This makes Monacomarker and San Marinomarker the only members of the Council of Europe which did not adopt the Bologna process (although they might consider joining once France and Italy have implemented it). All member states of the EU are participating in the process. Other countries eligible to join the initiative are Belarusmarker and Kazakhstanmarker.

The following organisations are also part of the follow-up of the process: ESU, EUA, EURASHE, EI, ENQA, UNICE as well as the Council of Europe, the European Commissionmarker and UNESCOmarker. Other networks at this level include ENIC, NARIC and EURODOC.

Rejected countries/entities

Four countries or entities applied to be included in the Bologna process, but have been rejected so far.

Kyrgyz Republic

Although the Kyrgyz Republicmarker ratified the Lisbon Recognition Convention in 2004, it is not a State party to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe, and there is – as far as is known – no consideration of expanding the geographical scope of this Convention. It therefore seems clear that the Kyrgyz Republic is not eligible to join the Bologna process under the criteria defined in Berlin.

Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprusmarker is not recognized as an independent political entity by any member of the Bologna process except Turkey. It is therefore not a member of any international intergovernmental organisation, and it is not a party to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe. Therefore, North Cyprus is not eligible to join the Bologna process under the criteria defined in Berlin.


Israelmarker is not a party to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe, although it has observer status. Hence, Israel participates in the meetings of the Council of Europe's Steering Committees under the European Cultural Convention – such as the CDESR – as an observer. While Israel is not a part of geographical Europe, it is a part of the UNESCO Europe Region. Israel is also a signatory party to the Lisbon Recognition Convention. Under the criteria defined in the Berlin Communiqué, it seems clear that Israel is not eligible for access to the Bologna process.

Republic of Kosovo

Kosovomarker is not a party to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe. Its status under public international law is disputed, although several states have recognised Kosovo as a state. Therefore, Kosovo cannot become a member of the Bologna process at the time being.


The basic framework adopted is of three cycles of higher education qualification. As outlined in the Bergen Declaration of 2005, the cycles are defined in terms of qualifications and European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits:

  • 1st cycle: typically 180−240 ECTS credits, usually awarding a Bachelor's degree.
  • 2nd cycle: typically 90−120 ECTS credits (a minimum of 60 on 2nd-cycle level). Usually awarding a Master's degree.
  • 3rd cycle: Doctoral degree. No ECTS range given.

In most cases, these will take 3, 2, and 3 years respectively to complete. The actual naming of the degrees may vary from country to country.

One academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS-credits that are equivalent to 1,500-1,800 hours of study. The new model comes closer to the North American and Japanese systems. It gives greater weight to practical training and to intensive research projects. The way credits are measured reflects how hard a student has worked. The new evaluation methods reflect not only a student's performance on exams, but also his or her lab experiments, presentations, hours spent on study, innovation capacities, and so forth.


The Bologna process was a major reform created with the claimed goal of providing responses to issues such as the public responsibility for higher education and research, higher education governance, the social dimension of higher education and research, and the values and roles of higher education and research in modern, globalized, and increasingly complex societies with the most demanding qualification needs.

With the Bologna process implementation, higher education systems in European countries are to be organized in such a way that:

  • it is easy to move from one country to the other (within the European Higher Education Area) – for the purpose of further study or employment;
  • the attractiveness of European higher education has increased, so that many people from non-European countries also come to study and/or work in Europe;
  • the European Higher Education Area provides Europe with a broad, high-quality advanced knowledge base, and ensures the further development of Europe as a stable, peaceful and tolerant community benefiting from a cutting-edge European Research Area;
  • there will also be a greater convergence between the U.S. and Europe as European higher education adopts aspects of the American system.


The new changes were closer to the UKmarker and Irelandmarker's models than those used in most of Continental Europe. In many countries the process was not implemented without criticism.

Economic aspects

There is much scepticism and criticism of the Bologna process from the side of academics. Thus Dr Chris Lorenz of the Free University of Amsterdammarker has argued that:
"the basic idea behind all educational EU-plans is economic: the basic idea is the enlargement of scale of the European systems of higher education, ... in order to enhance its 'competitiveness' by cutting down costs. Therefore a Europe-wide standardization of the 'values' produced in each of the national higher educational systems is called for." Just as the World Trade Organization and GATS propose educational reforms that would effectively erode all effective forms of democratic political control over higher education, so "it is obvious that the economic view on higher education recently developed and formulated by the EU Declarations is similar to and compatible with the view developed by the WTO and by GATS."

Academic aspects

In much of continental Europe, the previous higher education system was modelled after the German system, in which there is a clear difference of vocational and academic higher education. This mostly has an impact on the old engineer's degrees. The conflation of the two types of degrees can be counterproductive in the following cases:
  • The vocational three-year degrees are not intended for further study, so those students who also want to advance to a master's degree will be at a disadvantage.
  • The master's degree effectively becomes the minimum qualification for a professional engineer, rather than the bachelor's degree.
  • The academic three-year degrees prepare only for continuing towards master's, so students who enter the workforce at that point will not be properly prepared. Yet they would have the same academic title as the fully trained vocationally educated engineers (see: Fachhochschule).

The end-result of the change is that the agreements between professional bodies will require reevaluation in some cases as qualifications change.

The requirement of 60 ECTS per year assumes that 1,500-1,800 hours are available per year. However, the Bologna process does not standardize semesters, which means that if the summer break at the university is long, the same material has to be crammed into a shorter study year. Also, there have been accusations that the same courses have been simply redefined e.g. 1.5 times shorter when the local credits were converted to ECTS, with no change in course content or requirements. This effectively increases demands with nothing to compensate.

Other reforms as riders

The Bologna process has been implemented concurrently with other reforms, which have been attached as "riders" to the implementation itself. These reforms go far beyond the minimum provisions necessary to implement the Bologna process, and include introducing tuition fees, overhauling departments, and changing the organization of universities. These reforms have been criticized as unnecessary, detrimental to the quality of education, or even undemocratic.

For example, in Finland, the official goal was to improve students' performance and to enable them to gain diplomas faster by introducing stricter standards. However, students appear to feel that the workload has increased, and the new standards lead to micromanaged and too narrow curricula . The Bologna process is said to lead to universities being "diploma factories". Also, for example at Helsinki University of Technologymarker, most students (85%) fail to achieve the official goal of 120 credits in two years — the average is 81 credits. The number of students failing to achieve the minimum credits to receive student benefit has risen 40% following the implementation of the process.

Part of the explanation is that student life in Finland tends towards ample extracurricular activities. The silent agreement has been that the gain in life experience and extended personal networks more than makes up for the increased study time. Because these personal networks include alumni in influential positions, students have long been able to resist attempts to improve their nominal study performance and to cut down on extracurricular activities. The Bologna process as a pan-European effort has extended over and above these student/alumni networks.

Effects by state

Contrary to popular belief, the Bologna process was not based on a European Union initiative. It constitutes an intergovernmental agreement, between both EU and non-EU countries. Therefore, it does not have the status of EU legislation. Also, as the Bologna Declaration is not a treaty or convention, there are no legal obligations for the signatory states. The (extent of) participation and cooperation is completely voluntary. This can be regarded both as a positive and as a negative thing. On the one hand, one could say that this "bottom-up" voluntary convergence does justice to the sovereignty of the states, which is especially important in the field of education. On the other hand, the avoidance of EU structures can be regretted for democratic reasons. The Bologna Declaration can be said to be a deal done behind closed doors by governmental officials without any participation of the European parliament. Also the involvement of the national parliaments has been limited.

Although the Bologna Declaration was created outside and without the EU institutions, the European Commission plays an increasingly important role in the implementation of the process. The Commission has supported several European projects (the Tuning project, the TEEP project) connected to quality assurance etc. Most countries do not currently fit the framework – instead they have their own time-honoured systems. The process will have many knock-on effects such as bilateral agreements between countries and institutions which recognise each others' degrees. However, the process is now moving away from a strict convergence in terms of time spent on qualifications, towards a competency-based system. The system will have an undergraduate and postgraduate division, with the bachelor degree in the former and the master and doctoral in the latter.

In mainland Europe five year plus first degrees are common, with some taking up to eight years not being unheard of. This leads to many not completing their studies; many of these countries are now introducing bachelor-level qualifications. This situation is changing rapidly as the Bologna process is implemented.

Depending on the country and the development of its higher education system, some introduced ECTS, discussed their degree structures and qualifications, financing and management of higher education, mobility programmes etc. At the institutional level the reform involved higher education institutions, their faculties or departments, student and staff representatives and many other actors. The priorities varied from country to country and from institution to institution.


The situation in Austriamarker is similar to that in Germanymarker: the traditional "lowest" degrees are the Magister and the Diplom-Ingenieur, which can be obtained after at least four to six years of study. However, beginning with the year 2000, many curricula have already been converted into separate bachelor (Bakkalaureat, although this term will be replaced by Bachelor in most studies by 2007) and master (Magisterstudium) programmes, with nominal durations of six semesters (three years) and three to four semesters (1.5–2 years), respectively. With few exceptions (e.g. studies of human and veterinary medicine), all university curricula will be remodeled to this format within the next years.

Enrollment in a doctoral programme generally requires a master's level degree in a related field. The nominal duration of doctoral programmes is two or three years, but the actual time to graduation varies considerably and is generally longer than that.


In Belgiummarker the candidate's degree took 2 years (in some cases 3), with an additional 2 to 3 years (in some cases 4) to obtain a license. This has been replaced by an academic bachelor's degree of 3 years and a master's degree of 1 or 2 years (in some cases 3 or even 4). The professional (non-academic) graduate degree has been replaced by a professional bachelor degree of 3 years.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina has not passed new higher education law (as of summer 2008), but universities (and faculties within universities) have started reforming already.


In Croatiamarker, the implementation of the Bologna process started in the academic year 2005/2006. The existing academic degrees were generally transformed like this:
  • The degree granted with a diploma was transformed into a baccalaureus (in Croatian: prvostupnik) and the programmes were usually shortened from 4 years to around 3.
  • The degree granted with a magisterij was mostly eliminated or transformed into a master's degree, achieved after two additional years of study.
  • The degree of doktorat (Ph.D., remains, but it can be received after 3 more years, i.e. 8 years in total.

Therefore, the typical length of studies is now 3 years for Bachelor or Baccalaureus, then 2 years for Master or magistar, and then 3 years for "Doctor of Science" or doktor znanosti. In local use, there is a distinction in titles between vocational degrees and academic degrees at the baccalareus level (the academic degrees holders add univ. before their title, denoting a university programme). A distinction is also made between engineering programs and other programs at levels below Ph.D. – engineering program graduates append engineer (inženjer – ing.) to their title. It is not yet officially clear how those differences map to the arts and science differentiation present in the Anglo-American system. It is expected that most faculties issuing engineering degrees will translate them as science degrees.

There are several notable exceptions:

  • The first higher education degree in economics still lasts four years, while the master's degree in economics is obtained after an additional one year (this refers to University of Zagreb'smarker Faculty of Economics)and Zagreb School of Economics and Management.
  • Medicine and medicine-related studies do not assign a baccalaureus degree and instead last 6 years like before.

The translation system put into law for holders of the old degrees, however, recognises that they were more comprehensive then the scaled down programs that are replacing them in the new system and thus the translation goes as follows:
  • diploma holders translate into masters (magistar inženjer for engineering diploma holders and magistar for others)
  • the old master's degree holders title is grandfathered into the new system (magistar znanosti – master of science) and is considered and intermediate title between the new master's degree and a doctor's degree for local use, and is expected to go into disuse as the title holders either gain a Ph.D. (which is available under mostly generous terms compared to new masters) or with their demise, since there is no way to gain the title under the new system.
  • doctor's degrees are not translated, but rather remain the same as in the old system

In May 2008 around 5000 students protested against the ineffective implementation (weak funding, unclearly defined new rules etc.), and thus poor results of the Bologna reform.


Before the adaptation to international standards, the lowest degree that could be obtained at universities in Denmarkmarker was equivalent to a Master degree (Kandidat). Officially, Bachelor degrees have been introduced after 3 years' university studies, but very few choose to stop at this stage , without the additional 2 years required to obtain a Masters degree. Various medium-length (2-4 years) professional degrees have been adapted so they now have status as professional bachelor degrees (3½ years), and opposed to academic bachelor degrees they are considered to be "valid" degrees.


Since 2002 all Bachelors (honours) degrees have been three-year courses in Estoniamarker (4 years if students enrolled before 2001). Masters courses take two years and doctorates four years. The Masters degree is always a postgraduate degree.


In the Finnish pre-Bologna system, the higher education was strictly divided between the universities and polytechnics. In universities, the degrees were divided in most fields into a three-year Bachelor's degree kandidaatti, which was followed by the two-year higher Master's degree maisteri. In these fields, the Bologna process causes no changes. The degrees retain their former domestic names but in English usage, Bachelor and Master are used to describe the degrees.

In the field of engineering, the universities did not offer bachelor-level degrees, but only a 5½-year master's program (diplomi-insinööri). This program has now been divided into a three-year bachelor-level degree tekniikan kandidaatti and a two-year master-level degree diplomi-insinööri, for which the English names are Bachelor of Science (Eng) and Master of Science (Eng), respectively. A corresponding change has also been made in the military higher education, where the officer's degree was divided between a bachelor's and master's program.The Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, which have offered Bachelor's Degree level engineering programmes, have since legistlative changes in 2005 started to offer Master Degree programmes. Some Master of Engineering (insinööri (ylempi AMK)) programmes are also taught in English.

Only medicine retains its non-standard degree structure, where the Licentiate — higher than Master's, less extensive than Doctor of Medicine degree — serves as the basic degree. A six-year program of at least 360 ECTS credits leads directly to the degree Licenciate of Medicine (lääketieteen lisensiaatti). There is an intermediate title (but curiously, not an academic degree) of lääketieteen kandidaatti, and there is no Master's degree. Licentiates of Medicine may continue to Doctor's degree.

The degrees from polytechnics are considered Bachelor's degrees in international usage. However, in domestic usage, bachelors transferring from polytechnics to universities may be required a maximum of 60 ECTS credits of additional studies prior emabarking the master's level studies. In conjunction with Bologna process, the polytechnics have obtained the right to award master's degrees. However, such programs remain rather minor phenomenon. The polytechnic master's degree does not qualify for doctoral studies.

The Finnish postgraduate education retains its non-standard two-level degree structure. The Licenciate's degree (lisensiaatti) may be undertaken after circa two years' postgraduate study. This degree requires the coursework of the doctoral degree but has much less stringent thesis requirements. The Doctor's degree, with a full dissertation, takes about four years to complete. Most Finnish universities encourage their post-graduate students to skip the intermediate licenciate degree.

In grading, Finnish universities may use their own 5-point system (0 fail, 5 best), which can be criterion-referenced rather than norm-referenced, and where ECTS points given are not affected by the grade.


In France the baccalauréat is awarded at the end of secondary education and allows students to enter university. It is followed by a two-year Diplôme d'études universitaires générales (DEUG), followed by a third year, the licence. The licence is the equivalent of a UK Bachelor's degree.

After the licence, students can choose to enter the maîtrise, which is a one-year research degree. The maîtrise may be followed by either a one-year vocational degree, the diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées (DESS), or a one-year research degree, the Diplôme d'études approfondies (DEA). The DEA is preparation for a doctorate, and can be considered equivalent to an M. Phil.. After the DEA, students may pursue a doctorat, which takes at least three years. The DESS was created in 1975 for students who have already completed their fourth year degrees. It was intended to be a University Doctorate degree with a more practical approach - instead of research - and includes the production of a paper of about 120 pages which is defended in front a jury of three international specialists in that very field. The mini-thesis is then kept in the libraries of the University issuing the DESS; whereas a copy of each PhD Doctorate thesis is distributed by its author to every french university library.

Higher education in France is also provided by non-university institutions dedicated to specific subjects. For example, the Diplôme d'ingénieur (engineering diploma) is awarded to students after five years of study in state-recognized Ecoles d'ingénieurs, especially the Grandes Ecoles. Degrees from these schools are generally favoured over university degrees due to their selective admissions procedures. In contrast, public universities are legally obliged to accept any students who have passed High School.

The baccalauréat and the doctorat are unchanged in the new Bologna system, but the DEUG and the old licence have been merged into a new, three-year licence. The maîtrise, DESS, and DEA have also been combined into a two-year master's degree, which can be work-oriented (master professionnel) or research-oriented (master recherche). The Diplôme d'ingénieur degree is still separate from the university degree but students with such a degree may lawfully claim a Master degree as well.

Strikes occurred in France in 2002-2003 and 2007 against the reforms. Strikes were more related to the under funding of the French universities since May 1968, than to the Bologna process itself. The two main students’ organisations object some aspects of the application to the French scheme but welcome the European process, which aims to facilitate full grade in various universities.


In Germanymarker the process is already underway, many subjects of the humanities and social studies can be completed with a B.A. and many subjects of the natural sciences with a B.Sc. at an increasing number of universities. The Bachelor's degree in engineering can be a B.Eng. or a B.Sc., depending on the focus of studies. The new postgraduate Master's degrees (M.A., M.Sc., M.Eng. and other) are seen as equivalent to the old five year first degrees Diplom (one subject, can be in all sciences) and Magister Artium (interdisciplinary, common in social and cultural sciences). The number of old degree courses is declining and they will be replaced by the new degrees up until 2010 in some states.


Greece joined the Bologna process from the very beginning in 1999. Since 2007, more intensive steps towards the establishment of the European Higher Education Area were completed.

During the years 2006 – 2007, the Greek government led by New Democracy, with the consent of PASOK, tried to implement the declaration of Bologna through massive reforms aiming at the university system. These actions led to universities being taken over by the students, massive protests, police violence and riots. These reactions led to the failure of the constitutional change of the article 16 that prohibits the founding of private universities and also blocked the reform in the laws regarding the internal workings of universities.

In 2008 a group of engineering schools in Greece took steps to silently implement parts of the Bologna declaration. The daily Eleftherotypia wrote on 18 March 2008 that the major engineering schools in Greece will issue certificates to all their graduates recognizing their diplomas as masters level degrees. Engineering studies in Greece last 5 years and by identifying the corresponding diplomas as masters, the schools silently adopt Bologna's directive that the undergraduate studies should be at least 3 years long, thus leaving room for master level studies in the 5 year period required for an engineering degree in Greece. Engineering schools in Greece objected to the Bologna process for years, which might explain the silent adoption of the process.


In Hungarymarker, the Bologna system will be applied to those starting their university education in September 2006. From this year, only 108 majors will be available for selection (instead of more than 400 in the previous year), out of which six are exempt from the Bachelor vs. Master division: lawyer, physician, dentist, veterinary, pharmacist and architect.

According to an online poll (query date: 24-FEB-06) of the National Tertiary Education Information Centre[44918] 65% of the voters think it was unnecessary to adopt this system. Its unpopularity first of all comes from the fact that the new system provides much less guarantee for students to get a practically useful Master's degree because many of them will be dismissed after the three years' Bachelor education. It's also not popular that students are supposed to take up more unrelated subjects in the first three years at several majors, due to the much more reduced number of majors.

Source in Hungarian: [44919]



In Irelandmarker most honours bachelors degree are three to four years with master's and doctorates being broadly similar to the UK. Ordinary bachelors degrees are also first cycle qualifications. The masters degree is always a postgraduate degree, either taught or achieved through research. The generic outcomes for Irish degrees are spelled out in the National Framework of Qualifications published in 2003.


Italymarker seems to fit the framework since the adoption, in 1999, of the so-called 3+2 system. The first degree is the Laurea triennale that can be achieved after three years of studies. Students can then complete two more years of specialization which lead to the Laurea Magistrale.

The "Laurea Magistrale" corresponds to a Master's Degree, and gives access to third cycle programmes (doctorates). It should not be confused with Italian "Masters", less popular second cycle degrees which do not give access to doctorates: "First Level Masters" can be pursued by those who hold at least a "Laurea triennale" degree, while "Second Level Masters" require a "Laurea Magistrale" before entry.

Exceptions to the 3+2 system are the unique cycle degrees: medicine (six years, plus a postgraduate specialization), pharmacy, veterinary science, architecture and law (five years). The dottorato di ricerca (doctorate) requires three or four years of work.


The Republic of Macedoniamarker became a member of the Bologna process in 2003, having started with the changes in the higher education system much earlier in 2000 when the Ministry of Education and Science passed the new Law on Higher Education. The Law requires universities to start introducing the ECTS and designing study and subject programs according to the principles of the Bologna process.

The existing academic degree granted with a diploma was transformed into a baccalaureus and the programmes were shortened from 4 years to around 3. The degree granted with a magisterium is transformed into a master's degree, achieved after 5 years of study. Medicine and medicine related studies still last 6 or 5 years. The degree of doktorat (PhD, remains but it can be received after 3 more years, i.e. 8 years in total: 3 years (Bachelor or Baccalaureus) + 2 years (Master) + 3 years (doctor of science or doktor na nauki).

The implementation of the Bologna process/ ECTS on the Law Faculty "Iustinianus Primus"-Skopje: [44920].


Republic of Moldova adhered to the process in 2005.


In Montenegromarker, the implementation of the Bologna process started in the academic year 2007.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands differentiates between HBO (higher professional education, or polytechnical education) and WO (scientific education, or research universities).

The old HBO has moved to the Bachelor/Master system. It generally requires four years of education to obtain a Bachelor degree at these institutions (i.e. BA, other than Bachelor of..., BSc and LLB). After these four years, graduates can apply for a master program at a university. These master programs generally require one to two years to complete. In order that a HBO Bachelor graduate be admitted to WO Master (which may grant titles as MA, MSc and LLM, he/she may have to pass one year of pre-Master education, meant to bridge the gap between his/her HBO study and WO study. There are also some HBO Master studies (granting the title Master of..., other than MA, MSc and LLM).

In respect to WO, previously there used to be a "kandidaats" (1-2 year) followed by three or four years of further studies to obtain a "doctoraal" degree (drs., ir. or mr.); not to be confused with the title doctor (dr.) which furthermore requires the writing of a dissertation and several scientific publications and it is the European correspondent of the PhD degree. This process is now replaced with first a "propedeuse" after one year, and then the "twee fase structuur" with a Bachelor of two years and a Master of one, two, or three years. A Master's title (or a "doctoraal" degree) is a requirement for promotion (promotie), i.e. doing original research at a WO faculty in order to get the title doctor (dr.). A HBO faculty cannot grant the title doctor (dr.).


The Polish equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts degree or Bachelor of Science degree (given by a university) is called licencjat, while in a technical university (politechnika) one gets the title of Engineer (inżynier). Magister is the Polish equivalent of Master's degree. Doktor is the Polish equivalent of a doctoral degree (Ph.D.).


Due to the pan-European Bologna process, after 2005 new licenciatura (licentiate) degrees were organized at both university and polytechnic institutions of Portugal – they are now a first study cycle (3 years) offered by Portuguese institutions of higher education, and are the only requirement for any applicant who wish to undertake the second study cycle (2 years) which awards a master's degree. Some new Bologna courses are integrated 5-year programmes or more, awarding a single master's degree (joint degree), a common practice in medicine, a 6-year programme, and some other fields taught at the universities. In engineering, although the use of two separated cycles, only having the masters' degree (2nd cycle of study) one can be a full chartered engineer. The new master's degrees attained after 5 or 6 years of successful study, corresponds to the same time duration of many old undergraduate degrees known as licenciatura. The new licenciatura attained after 3 years of successful study corresponds to the time duration of the old bacharelato which is a discontinued degree formerly awarded by polytechnics, in use between the 1970s and early 2000s, roughly equivalent to an extended associate's degree. Both the old and new master's degrees are the first graduate degree before a doctorate, and both the old and new licenciatura degrees are undergraduate degrees. Before the changes, the licenciatura diploma (4 to 6-year course) was required for those applicants who wished to undertake (the old) master's and/or doctorate programs but admission were only allowed for licenciatura degree owners with grades over 14 (out of 20). After the changes introduced by the Bologna process, the master's degree is conferred at the end of a programme roughly equivalent in time duration to many old licenciatura programmes. However, the Bologna process was elaborated in order to attain an improved education system based on the development of competences rather than on the transmission of knowledge. Its goal was the development of a reformed and modernized system of easily readable and comparable degrees, aimed to simplify comparison between qualifications across Europe through a total reorganisation of curricula and teaching methods in every new cycle of study. The flexibility and transparency provided is oriented to enable students to have their qualifications recognised more widely, facilitating freedom of movement around a more transparent EHEA (European Higher Education Area) which is based on two main cycles: undergraduate (1st cycle of study) and graduate (2nd cycle of study); as well as providing postgraduate degrees (3rd cycle of study) for advanced applicants aiming the doctorate degree.

As of 2007, critics allege that this was not achieved as many institutions relabeled their old licenciatura as the new master's without making any substantial alteration to the curriculum. The changings creating 3 to 6 years new licenciaturas and master's degrees that correspond to either 4 to 8 years of study in the previous model, has generated considerable confusion among some people and institutions. It is also alleged that many of those master's degrees offered by certain institutions, were not designed to prepare the students for further study (3rd cycle).


Romania made major steps towards the European Higher Education Area by reorganizing the entire education system. The new structure was approved by the National Rectors Council in November 2003 releasing on 5th of November 2003 the Declaration of the National Higher Education Conference.

The new legislation of June 2004 (No. 288/2004) stipulates the reorganization of the university studies, in accordance with Bologna declaration and Prague 2001, Berlin 2003 ministerial meetings, in three main cycles: Bachelor, Master and Doctoral. The implementation begun with the 2005-2006 generation of students and consists in a short-term higher education (180 ECTS) after which the student receives a diploma de absolvire or a long-term higher education (240-360 ECTS) after which one can receive an engineer diploma, diploma de inginer, (300 ECTS), architect diploma, diploma de architect, (360 ECTS) or bachelor diploma de licenţă in other fields (240-360 ECTS). The first stage of the higher education can be followed by an advanced studies program (60-90 ECTS) in the same field as the diploma obtained after a long-term higher education, giving the student a diploma for advanced studies diploma de studii aprofundate. Master studies last for 2 to 4 semesters (60-120 ECTS).


The Russianmarker higher education framework was basically incompatible with the process: the generic "lowest" degree in all universities since Soviet era is the Specialist which can be obtained after completing 5-6 years of studies. Since the mid-90s, many universities have introduced limited educational programmes allowing students to graduate with a Bachelor's degree (4 years) and then earn a Master's degree (another 1-2 years) while preserving the old 5-6 year scheme. In October 2007 Russia enacted a move to two-tier education in line with Bologna process model. The universities inserted a BSc diploma in the middle of their standard specialist programs; transition to real MS qualification has not been completed yet.

It is worth mentioning that even though Specialists are eligible for post-graduate courses (Aspirantura) as well as Masters are, Bachelors are not. Specialist degree is now being discontinued, so new students don't have this option. At the same time, while specialist education was free, the MS part of six-year program is not; students graduating in 2009–2010 will have to pay for what was free to their predecessors. The labor market regards BSc diplomas as inferior to "classic" education, thus MS stage remains mandatory for most graduates.

Also, some politicians in Russia are trying to link the transition to Bologna process with attempts to bypass an article of the Russian Constitution which guarantees a free higher education for every citizen of the Russian Federation. But the Master's degree is not free and must be paid for. This fact is seen as a violation of the Russian Constitution.


In Serbiamarker, the implementation of the Bologna process started in some schools in 2005. The existing academic degree granted with a diploma was transformed into a baccalaureus and the programmes last for 4 or, in some cases, 3 years. The degree granted with a magistratura was mostly eliminated or transformed into a master's degree, achieved after 5 years of study. Medicine and medicine related studies still last 6 or 5 years. The degree of doktorat (PhD) remains.

Currently, there is a lot of turmoil in the Serbian education system. The implementation of the Bologna process spawned a lot of problems, with one of the major problems being the introduction of very high tuition fees in public universities under the cover of the process. The fees, which are in some cases extremely high, have caused unrest among the student population.


The structure of university degrees in Spainmarker is quite different from the Anglo-Saxon model.

For years it has had two kinds of initial degrees: 3-year "Diplomatura" or "Ingeniería Técnica" (technical engineering) degrees and 4, 5 or 6-year "Licenciatura" or "Ingeniería" degrees. These two kinds of degrees used to be completely separate, the former leading to a medium-level technical profession (like Nursing, Social Work, School Teaching, medium-level Engineering, etc.) and the latter giving access to higher-level professions or academic disciplines (Physics, Chemistry, History, Psychology, Medicine, Sociology, Philosophy, Economics, higher Engineering, etc.) and opening the path to the Doctorate. Although the "Diplomatura" degrees used to be a sort of blocked path, over the years the possibility was opened to go on (with an extra year or half-year of study) to the last two years of a "Licenciatura" usually in a related but different field. But a "Diplomatura" has never been the exact equivalent of a BA/BSc, nor the "Licenciatura" that of an MA/MSC.

The new degrees have started for the master's level in 2006, and are scheduled to start at the undergraduate level in 2008. The new degrees will be: "Graduado" for the Bachelor's degree, after 4 years of study, except for Pharmacy or Dentistry, after 5 years, and Medicine, after 6 years; "Master" with an extra year or two; and "Doctor" for the doctorate.

The reform will also mean the end of a long standing Spanish tradition of centralised definition of degrees, both in their names and in a large part of their contents. Universities will have a very large autonomy to define their programmes and the name of their degrees, and will have to account for the results by means of an evaluation and accreditation process.


A bill proposing new regulations in the field of Higher Education was presented to Parliament in 2005. The new system came into force in July 2007. In the new system of degrees there will be two degrees of different lengths in each cycle.

Cycle Swedish English Length (undergraduate) Length (postgraduate)
1 Högskoleexamen University Diploma 2 years N/A
1 Kandidatexamen Bachelor's degree 3 years Högskoleexamen + 1 year
2 Magisterexamen Degree of Master, 1 year (sometimes called "Swedish master's degree") 4 years Kandidatexamen + 1 year
2 Masterexamen Degree of Master, 2 years 5 years Kandidatexamen + 2 years, or magisterexamen + 1 year
3 Licentiatexamen Degree of Licentiate N/A Kandidatexamen or higher + 2 years
3 Doktorsexamen Degree of Doctor N/A Kandidatexamen or higher + 4 years

Students might not always be offered all of the combinations above for obtaining a degree. For example, the högskoleexamen is not offered for most educations, and many educations require students to obtain the kandidatexamen before obtaining a magisterexamen or a masterexamen. Most third cycle programmes require the student to have obtained at least a magisterexamen before being allowed to enroll, although the legal requirement only is the kandidatexamen.

All degrees and qualifications are described using learning outcomes.

In July 2007, a new system of credits compatible with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, ECTS, was introduced, where one academic credit point (högskolepoäng) in the new system corresponds to one ECTS credit point, or two thirds of a credit point in the old system (poäng).

Some Swedish universities have decided to introduce the ECTS standard grading scale for all students, while others only will use it for international students. However, since so called criterion-referenced grading is practiced instead of relative grading in the Swedish educational system, the 10%, 25%, 30%, 25% and 10% distribution of the students among A, B, C, D and E will not be obeyed.

Some universities have decided to only give grade Failed or Passed (F or P) at certain courses, for example internship and thesis projects, or at some assignments, for example laboratory exercises.



Bologna Process


Since the mid-90s, Ukrainemarker took steps to reform its education frameworks in consistence with the Bologna process. By mid-2000s, most Universities grant lower Bachelor's degree (about 4 years) and higher Master's degree (about 6 years). In the Soviet times the only degree was Specialist, which is discontinued by now. Masters are eligible for post-graduate courses. The post-graduate system (Aspirantura) has not been reformed, with Candidate of Sciences and Doktor nauk degrees being granted.

United Kingdom

The UK is unusual in that graduates with a Bachelor's (Honours) degree can undertake doctoral studies without first having to obtain a Master's degree; however, the vast majority of students do obtain a Master's degree before pursuing doctoral research. It should also be noted that unlike many university systems in many other countries, British undergraduates are required to undertake a significant amount of independent research, usually in the form of an independent research project and thesis. Opponents argue that a Master's degree experience is required to train the student for their doctoral studies – both in practical techniques and enhanced knowledge of a field.

England and Wales

The first academic degrees in England and Wales available to undergraduates students are either a three-year ("Honours") Bachelor's degree, or a four-year degree equivalent to a three-year Bachelor's plus an integrated one-year Master's, or a three-year degree plus a year spent in employment ("sandwich courses") or in a foreign university. Postgraduate Master's degrees generally take only one additional academic year to complete beyond the initial 3-year Bachelor's degree. Note, however, that the academic year for postgraduate Master's programmes in UK usually lasts twelve months (full-time). A research doctorate leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree may be completed after 3 or 4 years of additional full-time study.


Scottish students can leave school and enter University at age seventeen with national Higher Grade certificates, as Scottish university courses generally last a year longer than in England and Wales. It is often possible for school students to take Advanced Highers, equivalent to English A-levels, and join the courses at the second year.

A unique aspect is that the Ancient Universities of Scotland issue a Master of Arts as the first degree in humanities.

Bologna process seminars

Several Bologna process seminars have been held as of October 2008.

The first seminar devoted to a single academic discipline was held in June 2004 in Dresdenmarker, Germanymarker: its title was "Chemistry Studies in the European Higher Education Area". The same seminar also approved Eurobachelor.


  1. Sorbonne declaration
  4. Bologna for Pedestrians, The Council of Europe Internet Portal.
  5. Applications for accession to the bologna process
  6. The framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area
  7. The Dutch universities and the Bologna process
  8. Polyteekkari – Vain harva uuden tutkintorakenteen opiskelija saavuttaa asetetut opintopistemäärät
  9. Studenti: Mi smo prva bolonjska degeneracija – NACIONAL
  10. Finnish governmental decree 423/2005 on degrees at Universities of Applied Sciences Accessed: 21 June 2009
  11. Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences - Master's Degrees Accessed: 21 June 2009
  12. WENR, March/April 2004: France
  13. Strikes against LMD reforms in France
  14. Strikes against private fundings of Universities in France
  15. Ελευθεροτυπία - Μάστερ από τα Πολυτεχνεία
  16. Δυναμικό "όχι" στην υποβάθμιση της Ανώτατης Παιδείας είπαν Πρυτάνεις, Καθηγητές ΑΕΙ, Μηχανικοί και Φοιτητές
  17. Országos Felsőoktatási Információs Központ
  18. Following the usage in the UN and many other international organisations, Macedonia is referred to in the Bologna process as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" [1]. See Macedonia naming dispute.
  19. About BPhil see the following note.
  20. Although it is not recognized by the Dutch state, Dutch universities may still grant the degree MPhil, next to granting a degree as MA or MSc next to the MPhil degree, so that the graduate may still get a recognized degree. [2]
  21. eurodoctorate (PDF 140KB)


  • Kertz-Welzel, Alexandra: "Motivation zur Weiterbildung: Master- und Bachelor-Abschlüsse in den USA". Diskussion Musikpädagogik 29 (2006): 33-35.

See also

External links

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