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This page refers to types of Master's degrees in Europe. Please see Master's degree for more information.

In order to facilitate the movement of students between European countries, a standardized schedule of higher education diplomas, also known as the Bologna process, was proposed: an undergraduate degree of at least three years called licence or Bachelor's degree, followed by a one-year or two-year diploma called Master, then a doctorate, meant to be obtained in (at least) 3 years. Because of these indicated schedules, the reform is sometimes (erroneously) referred to as 3-5-8. The objective is the European Higher Education Area.

The European Master's Market

As indicated in the sections below, the Bologna process is far from accomplished. Still, there exist large differences between the national higher education systems of the European nations (see the comprehensive report 'Bologna with student eyes' from ESIB). Through the Bologna initiatives and support of the European Union, Europe is unifying and standardising especially the structure of their Master's programmes, making them more and more accessible to foreign students.

An often cited advantage of the European universities is an advantageous cost/quality ratio. In Europe, especially continental Europe, universities are heavily subsidized by their national governments. In Germany, Scandinavia or Eastern Europe for instance, most Master’s programmes are totally free of charge.

In the recent publication of the Times Higher Education Supplement, 36 of the top 100 universities in the world are located in Europe. There are large regional differences in the tuition fees in those top 100 universities:



Source: mastersportal.eu

In continental Europe, the Master's tuition fee in 2008 was on average less than 1/4th of the tuition fee of the universities in the USA.

Austria

The traditional Austrianmarker equivalent to the Master's degree is the Diplomstudium, leading to the title Diplom-Ingenieur (female title: Diplom-Ingenieurin) in engineering or Magister (female: Magistra) in almost every other discipline. This is a first degree after 4–6 years of study. The fields of medicine and dentistry pose an exception; the first degree in these disciplines is a professional doctorate.

Due to the Bologna process, the traditional degrees are being replaced by a Bachelor's degree after 3 years of study and a Master's degree after 2 more years of study at the university level - including both the "research-oriented university" sector as well as the "university of applied sciences" sector which was established in 1990 (see also Fachhochschulen).

Belgium

In Belgiummarker, possessing a Master's degree means that you have completed a higher education (usually university or college) programme of 4 or 5 years. Before the Bologna process most university degrees required 4 years of studies (leading to a licence), but some programmes required 5 years of study. An example in the field of education in business/management was the 5-year programme of "Handelsingenieur" (Dutch/Flemish) or "Ingénieur de Gestion" (French) (English: "Commercial Engineer") with an important amount of mathematics and sciences, and which corresponds to a M.Sc. in Management. This degree co-existed with a graduate degree in business economics (4 years) named "Licentiaat in toegepaste economische wetenschappen" (Dutch/Flemish) or "Licence en sciences économiques appliquées" (French) (English: "Licence in applied economics").

Denmark

In Denmarkmarker, a Master's degree is awarded. This is just "Master" in Danish; however, MA/M.Sc and Master Courses are distinguished, where MA and M.Sc are known as Candidate degrees ("kandidatgrad"), and are obtained by completing a longer advanced education ("længere videregående uddannelse"), with a typical duration of five years.

A large number of subdivisions exist, usually designating the area of education (e.g. cand.theol., cand.arch. and cand.jur.), though some have more vague definitions (cand.mag., cand.scient., cand.polyt., and cand.scient.techn., each of which encompass broad, overlapping areas of science).

The Bologna process has caused most educations to be split into a three-year (180 ECTS points) substructure, after which a Bachelor's degree is obtained, followed by a two-year (120 ECTS points) superstructure, at which point the Master's degree is obtained.

Finland

In Finlandmarker, the introduction of the Bologna Process has standardized most of the degrees into the European model. The Master's degree takes two years (120 ECTS units) after the Bachelor's degree. In English-speaking usage, the is called Master (of respective field) in all fields of study. In Finnish, the degree is called maisteri in most fields. When precision is needed, the term ylempi korkeakoulututkinto is used to denote all degrees of Master's degree level. Literally, this translates to English higher diploma of higher education.

Medicine-related fields of medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine pose an exception to Bologna system. In medical fields, the Licenciate ( , ) is an equivalent degree, the completion of which takes five (dentistry) or six years (medicine and veterinary), while the Bachelor of Medicine's degree ( ) is gained after second year of studies. In fields other than medicine, the Licentiate's degree is a post-graduate degree higher than Master's but lower than doctor's.

In Engineering, the higher degree is either diplomi-insinööri ( , literally "Engineer with diploma") or arkkitehti ( , ) although in international use MSc is used. In Pharmacy, the degree is proviisori ( ). All such degrees retaining their historical name are classified as Master's degrees (ylempi korkeakoulututkinto) and in English usage, they are always translated as Master's degrees. Some other Master's degrees give the right to use the traditional title of the degree-holder. Most importantly, the degree of Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration gives the right to use the title of ekonomi, while the Masters of Science in Agriculture and Forestry may use the titles of metsänhoitaja (Forester) or agronomi (Agronomist) depending on their field of study.

France

In Francemarker and many countries which follow the French model (like the Francophone regions in Switzerlandmarker,Belgiummarker, Lebanonmarker, Algeriamarker,Moroccomarker, Tunisiamarker) a traditional diploma was the maîtrise (which translates literally as "Master's qualification") after 4 years of studies for which the licence degree - 3 years of studies - is required. This diploma becomes the first year of the Master's program, often referred to as M1. Because of this change, legal texts specifying a maîtrise (for instance, those defining the conditions for the external agrégation) had to be amended. The Master's programs subsume the former DEA (research-oriented 1-2 years degree), and DESS (industry-oriented 1-2 years degree), which become the second year of the Master (M2). But in some Francophonic universities, like University of Genevamarker in Switzerland, the licence degree is obtained after 4 years of studies followed by 1-2 years for the DEA/DESS degrees and there is no maîtrise degree like in France.

Parallel to university education, graduation from a grande école, which requires 5 years after the baccalauréat, can be assimilated to the Bologna definition of a Master's degree.

France is also host to a number of private American-style universities like The American University of Paris, that offer accredited American Master's degrees in Europe. Admission into these Master's programs requires a completed American undergraduate degree or a similar French/European degree that can be acquired in four years of study.

Germany

In Germanymarker the Diplom (first degree after 5 years, from either a University a Technische Hochschule or Fachhochschule (University of Applied Science)) and the Magister have traditionally been the equivalents to the Master's degree, the Magister being a degree in Humanities or Arts, the Diplom being a degree in Natural Science or Engineering.

Due to the Bologna process, these academic titles are mostly being replaced by the Bachelor and (postgraduate) Master's degree. The traditional degree at a German Fachhochschule (University of Applied Science), the Diplom (FH) (first degree after 4 years of study), is also being replaced by undergraduate Bachelor's degrees (3 years) and postgraduate Master's (2 years).

The German Meister degree for a master craftsman is not comparable to academic Master's degrees: It is the highest degree awarded to craftsmen; requiring only a relatively small amount of theoretical knowledge, but instead significant practical experience (often 6-7 years of work experience, examinations of the practical knowledge and the manufacturing of a masterpiece).

Ireland

Postgraduate Master's degrees in Ireland can either be taught degrees involving lectures, examination and a short dissertation, or research degrees. They usually are one of: MA (except Trinity College Dublinmarker, where this is an undergraduate degree awarded 21 terms after matriculation, see 'MAs in Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin', below, or MA, M.Sc., MBA, MAI, ME/MEng/MEngSc, MPhil, LLM, MLitt, MArch, MAgrSc, MSocSc, MCH, MAcc, MEconSc.

The Magister in Arte Ingeniaria (MAI), literally meaning 'Master in the Art of Engineering', is awarded by the University of Dublinmarker, Ireland, and is more usually referred to as Master of Engineering. While still available (via two routes), historically it was the engineering Master's degree taken by the university's BAI graduates. Today the more common engineering Master's degree in the University of Dublin is the M.Sc..

A Master of Business Studies (MBS) refers to a qualification in the degree of master that can be obtained by students of recognized universities and colleges who complete the relevant approved programmes of study, pass the prescribed examinations, and fulfil all other prescribed conditions. An MBS can be studied in the following areas: Electronic Business,Finance, Human Resource Management, International Business, Management Information System, Management & Organisation Studies, Management Consultancy, Marketing, Project Management, Strategic Management & Planning and can be obtained from many universities in Ireland including University College Dublinmarker.

The other universities in Ireland usually award a MEngSc, M.E., MEng or M.Sc. for their postgraduate Master's degree in engineering.

Italy

The old university system (Vecchio Ordinamento) consisted in a unique four-five year course, with a variable period (six-nine months usually) for the thesis work. After the thesis discussion, students got the Master's Degree, simply called Laurea.

This system was reformed in 1999/2000 to comply to the Bologna process directives. The new university system (Nuovo Ordinamento) includes two levels of degrees: a three year Bachelor's degree, called Laurea di Primo Livello or just Laurea (e.g. Laurea di Primo Livello in Ingegneria Elettronica is Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering) and a two year course of specialization, leading to a Master's degree called Laurea di Secondo Livello, Laurea Specialistica or Laurea Magistrale (e.g. Laurea Specialistica in Ingegneria Elettronica is Master of Science in Electronic Engineering). Both degrees include a thesis work with final discussion.

A student can apply for the Ph.D. level course, called Dottorato, only after getting a Master's degree.

Medicine, and other universities have not changed the system, and consist in a unique six year course followed, eventually, by the specialization (three-six years more).Some other universities, such as Law have both courses in the old system (e.g. Giurisprudenza) and in the new system (e.g. Consulente del lavoro)

Lithuania

There are three levels of degrees in Lithuania.

The first level is Bachelor's degree ("bakalauras"). It is awarded after 4 years of study in a university ("universitetas") or after 3 years of study in a college ("kolegija"). Students of medicine have longer studies.

The second level, Master's degree ("magistras") is awarded after 2 years of further study at university. Bolognia process didn't influence much of the Lithuanian education system because most of it has been there since end of soviet era. One notable change is that now it is possible to apply to Master studies after 3 years study at a college ("kolegija"). Before the Bologna process the 4 years study at an university ("universitetas") was required. One notable exception probably is psychology studies. To enroll to Master of Psychology studies you have to have Bachelor of Psychology degree from university. The Bachelor of Psychology degree from college is not sufficient to enroll for Master of Psychology studies.

After completing Master degree student can study further for the third level - PhD degree ("daktaras") at an university.

Netherlands

In 2004, the Dutch degree system was changed to abide to international standards. This process was complicated by the fact that the Dutch higher education system has two separate branches, Hoger Beroeps Onderwijs (HBO, which indicates College or "University of Professional Education" level), and Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (WO, which indicates University level). HBO level education focuses more on practical and professional education while WO is academic and scientific.

Before the Bachelor/Master system was introduced, HBO graduates received the title baccalaureus (with the corresponding pre-nominal abbreviation "bc.") which was rarely used. On the other hand the HBO graduates with an engineering degree used the degree ingenieur, with pre-nominal abbreviation "ing.", which was (and still is) used quite commonly. WO degrees consisted of several different titles, such as doctorandus (pre-nominal abbreviated to drs., corresponds to MA or MSc), ingenieur (ir. for WO level, corresponds to MSc) and meester in de rechten (mr., corresponds to LL.M.) These former titles are no longer granted (although still used, protected, and interchangeable with MA and MSc titles). The title of doctor (dr., corresponds to PhD) is still given.

In the new system completed college (HBO) degrees are equivalent to a Bachelor's degree and are abbreviated to "B" with a subject suffix. Universities (WO) grant a Bachelor's degree for the general portion of the curriculum. This degree is a "Bachelor of Science" or "Bachelor of Arts" with the appropriate suffix.

Before one is allowed into a Master's program, one has to have obtained a Bachelor's degree in the same field of study at the same level. This means that an HBO Bachelor's degree cannot start a WO Master program but many universities are offering a bridge year in which HBO degree holders can attain the WO Bachelor and continue into the WO Master program.

All fully completed curricula in the Netherlands are equivalent to Master's degrees with the addition of a "of Science" or "of Arts" to distinguish them from HBO Master's which are know simply as Master. WO Master's degrees focus on specialization in a sub-area of the general Bachelor's degree subject and typically take 1 year except for engineering studies whereas the Master takes 2 years.

HBO Master's are usually started only after several years of work and are similarly focusses on specialization. The title is signified by the abbreviation M and therefore an MBA would indicate an HBO Master's degree in business administration, but use of MBA title is protected and can only be granted by accredited schools.

Norway

A complete overview of the degrees before the Quality reform of 2003 is to be found at the Academic degree#Norway page.As a result of the Bologna-process and the Quality reform, the degree system of Norwegian higher education consists of the two main levels Bachelor's degree and Master's degree. A Bachelor's degree at a Norwegian university/university college is equivalent to an undergraduate degree and takes three years (with the exception of the teaching courses, where a Bachelor's degree lasts for four years). The Master's degrees are either fully integrated five-year programmes (admission does not require undergraduate degree) leading up to a graduate degree, or two-year courses at graduate level which require an already completed undergraduate degree. Following the graduate level, education is given at the doctoral level, usually through a four year research fellowship leading to a PhD.

Before the implementation of this system, various titles were given in accordance with the field of study and the length of the course. For instance, a three year undergraduate degree in engineering would give the title "høgskoleingeniør" (Bachelor's degree), and a 4,5 to 5 year graduate degree in engineering would give the title "sivilingeniør" (Master's degree). That being said, these titles are still very common and are, although formally abolished, degrees granted earlier (see Academic degree#Norway for a complete list) are still being used, also by academic personnel.

Poland

Currently there are two models of higher education in Polandmarker.

In the traditional model, a Master's degree is awarded after completion of a university curriculum — a 5 year programme in science courses at a university or other similar institution, with a project in the final year called magisterium (it can be translated as a Master of Arts or a Master of Science thesis) that often requires carrying out research in a given field. An MA degree is called a magister (abbreviated mgr) except for medical education, where it is called a lekarz (this gives the holder the right to use the title of physician and surgeon), a lekarz weterynarii in the veterinary field and a dentysta in field of dentistry. Universities of technology usually give the title of magister inżynier (abbreviated mgr inż.) corresponding to an MSc Eng degree.

More and more institutions introduce another model, which as of 2005 is still less popular. In this model, following the Bologna process directives, higher education is split into a 3 to 4-year Bachelor programme ending with a title of licencjat (non-technical) or inżynier (technical fields), and a 2-year programme (uzupełniające studia magisterskie) giving the title of magister or magister inżynier. Nevertheless, even in these institutions, it is often possible to bridge the Bachelor education directly into the Master programme, without formally obtaining the licencjat degree, thus shortening the time needed for completing the education slightly.

Depending on field and school, the timing may be slightly different.

Sweden

Prior to the full implementation of the Bologna Process in July 2007 degrees in Swedenmarker could be divided between 'kandidat' (three years), 'magister' (four years), 'licentiat' ('magister' + 2-3 years of postgraduate studies) and 'doktor' ('magister' + 4-5 years of postgraduate studies). In engineering disciplines M.Sc was called 'civilingenjör', a four and a half year academic program concluded with a thesis. There was no direct equivalent to a B.Sc, however, a three year engineering degree with a more practical focus called 'högskoleingenjör' was close.

With the full implementation of the Bologna process in July 2007, a 'Master' (five years) was introduced in line with the criteria for the the second cycle. The 'magister' will still exist alongside the new 'Master', but is expected to be largely neglected in favour of the new, internationally recognized degree. The M.Sc of engineering, 'civilingenjör', was expanded to five years and a new B.Sc was introduced to coexist with the unaltered 'högskoleingenjör'.

United Kingdom

Undergraduate Master's Courses

With Dissertation

In the UKmarker, many universities now have four-year undergraduate programmes mainly in the sciences or in engineering with a research project or Dissertation in the final year. The awards for these are named after the subject, so a course in mathematics would earn a Master in Mathematics degree, (abbreviated to MMath), or have a general title such as MSci (Master in Science at most universities but Master of Natural Sciences at Cambridgemarker), MBiomed, MBiochem, MChem, MComp, MPharm, MEng, MMath, MPhys, MML, MDes, etc.

In content the first two years they are generally identical to those of the equivalent Bachelor's degree while the third and fourth years are a combination of higher-level taught courses and a research project.

An example of an undergraduate master's degree in the professions in the United Kingdommarker is Pharmacy. In order to become a pharmacist, the undergraduate MPharm must be completed, followed by one year of pre-registration experience. A similar situation exists as regards Engineering.

Without Dissertation

The Master of Arts (MA) is awarded by the universities of Oxfordmarker, Cambridgemarker and Trinity College, Dublinmarker —without further examination— to those entitled to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. This is a different programme than those above.

The ancient universities of Scotland (St Andrewsmarker, Glasgowmarker, Aberdeen, Edinburgh) and Dundeemarker award a Master of Arts (MA) as their normal undergraduate degree after four years of study in Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences.

Postgraduate Master's degrees

Postgraduate Master's degrees in the United Kingdom can either be taught degrees involving lectures, examination and a short dissertation, or research degrees (though the latter have largely been replaced by MPhil and MRes programmes, see below). Taught Master's programmes involve 1 or 2 years of full-time study. The programmes are often very intensive and demanding, and concentrate on one very specialised area of knowledge. Some universities also offer a Master's by Learning Contract scheme, where a candidate can specify his or her own learning objectives; these are submitted to supervising academics for approval, and are assessed by means of written reports, practical demonstrations and presentations.

Taught postgraduate Master's degrees

(MSc, MA, LL.M., MLitt, MSSc, MSt, MEnt etc.)

The most common types of postgraduate taught Master's degrees are the Master of Arts (MA) awarded in Arts, Humanities, Theology and Social Sciences and the Master of Science (MSc) awarded in pure and applied Science. A number of taught programs in Social Sciences also receive the Master of Science (MSc) degree (e.g. MSc Development Studies at the London School of Economicsmarker and University of Bathmarker).

However, some universities - particularly those in Scotlandmarker - award the Master of Letters (MLitt) to students in the Arts, Humanities, Divinity and Social Sciences, often with the suffix (T) to indicate it is a taught degree, to avoid confusion with the MLitt (see Research postgraduate Master's degrees below). In the universities of Cambridgemarker and Oxfordmarker on the other hand, the MPhil is a taught master's degree (normally also including a short research component), whereas the MLitt and the MSc degrees are offered as pure research degrees only. Some other universities, such as the University of Glasgowmarker, previously used the designation MPhil for both taught and research Master's degrees, but have recently changed the taught appellation to MLitt.

In Law the standard taught degree is the Master of Laws, but certain courses may lead to the award of MA or MLitt.

Until recently, both the undergraduate and postgraduate Master's degrees were awarded without grade or class (like the class of an honours degree). Nowadays however, Master's degrees may be classified, either into three categories (Distinction, Pass or Fail), while some are simply Pass or Fail.

Research postgraduate Master's degrees

(MPhil and MRes)

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is a research degree awarded for the completion of a thesis. It is a shorter version of the Ph.D. and some universities routinely enter potential PhD students into the MPhil programme and allow them to upgrade to the full PhD programme a year or two into the course. Advanced candidates for a taught postgraduate Master's sometimes undertake the MPhil as it is a more prestigious degree.

The Master of Research (MRes) degree is a more structured and organised version of the MPhil, usually designed to prepare a student for a career in research. For example, an MRes may combine individual research with periods of work placement in research establishments. MRes is a really prestigious degree.

The Master of Letters (MLitt) degree is a two-year research degree at many universities, including Cambridge and the ancient Scottish universities, and is generally awarded when a student cannot or will not complete the final year(s) of their PhD and so writes their research up for the MLitt. Because MLitt is also used for a taught degree, the suffix (T) or (R) for taught or research is often added, so the more prestigious two-year research degree is called MLitt (R).

Like the PhD, the MPhil and MRes degrees are generally awarded without class or grade as a pass (the standard grade) or can, rarely, be awarded with a distinction.

MAs in Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin

The universities of Oxfordmarker, Cambridgemarker and Dublinmarker award Master's degrees to BAs without further examination, where seven years after matriculation have passed, and (in some but not all cases) upon payment of a nominal fee. It is commonplace for recipients of the degree to have graduated several years previously and to have had little official contact with the university or academic life since then. The only real significance of these degrees is that they historically conferred voting rights in University elections, it was seen as the point at which one became eligible to teach at the University and certain other privileges e.g. the right to dine at the holder's college's high table. They still do confer some restricted and rarely used voting rights. The MAs awarded by Oxford and Cambridge are colloquially known as the Oxbridge MA, and that from Dublin as the Trinity MA, and would be usually distinguished respectively: MA (Oxon.), MA (Cantab.) and MA (Dubl.). "Oxon." here is short for Oxoniensis, "Cantab." for Cantabrigiensis, "Dubl." for Dubliniensis, meaning "of Oxford", "of Cambridge", and "of Dublin" respectively. The Universities of Cambridge and Dublin also offer an MA to certain senior staff - both academic and non-academic - after a number of years' employment with the university.

Until the advent of the modern research university in the mid 19th century, several other British and American universities also gave such degrees "in course".

Scottish MA

In Scotlandmarker the first degree in Arts, Fine Art, Humanities and Social Sciences awarded by the ancient universities of Scotland is the Master of Arts. It should be noted the Science and Law faculties of Scottish universities award the BSc and LLB degrees respectively and the New Universities generally award the BA. The Scottish MA is roughly equivalent to a BA from a University elsewhere in the United Kingdom, as it is primarily an undergraduate degree. However, Scottish university courses are four years in length rather than the usual UK degrees, which last for only three years. Trinity College Dublin courses are also four years in length.


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