Degree Options in Europe

Bachelor, Master's and Doctorate Programs

Higher Education in Europe is based on the "LMD" degree structure – this stands for Licence (the French equivalent of a Bachelor degree), Master's, and Doctorate. The LMD system is now used throughout the European Union (EU) and allows you to transfer credit and establish degree equivalency between one university or national higher education system and another. It has been designed to facilitate international student mobility within the EU and around the world.

European university studies, especially public universities, are organized into three basic levels, each of which corresponds to a certain number of ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits.

  • Licence/Bachelor: a total of 3-4 years of study (180 – 240 ECTS)
  • Master's: a total of 5 years of study (an additional 1 - 2 years or 90 – 120 ECTS after completion of the Bachelor)
  • Doctorate: a total of eight years of study and research (an additional 3 years after completion of a Master's)

Within the European Union, the recognition of international degrees rests on a common system of academic credits called ECTS credits. ECTS credits are cumulative and transferable. So when you transfer from one European institution to another, you will always get credit for the work you have done.

The wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees is one of the great strengths of the European system. Each degree corresponds to a course of study that is strictly defined, so a degree from a European HEI provides a very clear indication of what you have studied and how you are capable of performing in the work force.

Overview of Higher Education Degrees in Europe

In addition to the traditional Licence/Bachelor, Master's and doctoral degrees, there are also vocational and technical degree programs, degree programs taught in English, multinational joint and dual-degree Master’s programs, as well as study abroad and exchange programs offered in cooperation with US partner universities and organizations.

The chart below provides a quick and easy overview of the various higher education degrees conferred by higher education institutions in Europe, which has come about as a result of the Bologna Declaration. The number of years listed for each degree in the chart is based on the number of years to be completed after graduating from high school (typically 12 years).

European Degree Chart