In Spain, university degrees have now been divided into the three cycles that international students from some countries will recognize as being similar to their own, all of this being part of the EHEA's intention to standardize the overall structure of the European university system.
The first cycle leads to a bachelor’s degree, the second cycle to a university master’s degree and the third to a doctorate.
The second cycle provides advanced or specialized training and leads to a university master’s degree qualification. University master’s degree courses are based on ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits, and while one credit used to be equivalent to 10 class hours, regardless of how many hours of study and work were required outside the classroom, now the ECTS credits take into account and recognize all of the work that a student undertakes.
One ECTS credit is equivalent to 25 hours of student work, which includes the following: lectures and practical classes, private study, participation in seminars, projects and practical work and preparation for and completion of examinations and assessment tests.
University master’s degree courses have a study load of between a minimum of 60 ECTS credits and a maximum of 120 ECTS credits, which is equivalent to either one or two academic years. Curricula provide theoretical and practical training for the student through compulsory subjects, optional subjects, seminars, placements, supervised projects and assessment activities. In addition, at the end of the program, students complete and defend a master’s degree final project that carries from 6 to 30 ECTS credits, depending on the degree course. On the basis of a student’s prior education, he/she may be required to take bridging courses (up to a maximum of 60 credits). This decision is made by the coordinator of the master’s degree.
Depending on its educational objectives, a university master’s degree course may either prepare students for employment in the sector or introduce them to research. In the second case, this is the stage students must go through if they wish to enter a doctoral degree.
University master’s degree courses are divided into three categories:
To be accepted on an inter-university or Erasmus Mundus master's degree course, students must meet a series of requirements which will vary according to each program.
Finally, as indicated above, the university master's degree is also the official way to be admitted to The doctoral program, which aims to offer advanced training in the use of research techniques.