Structure of the university system
University | Fuente: sxc.hu. Author: Michaël van Leeuwen
Structure of the University Education System
University studies in Spain are regulated by Royal Decree 1393/2007 of 29 October (modified by Royal Decree 861/2010, of 2 July), establishing the regulations for official university teaching according to the guidelines emanating from the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). As such, three levels of higher education are set: Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate.
First Cycle: Bachelor
Bachelor's Degree studies constitute the first level of university teaching and replace the previous levels of Diploma (Diplomado) and Licentiate (Licenciado). In general, these have a loading of 240 ECTS credits (including the End of Bachelor's Degree Project), spread over four academic years.
The Bachelor's Degree, as well as being assigned to an area of knowledge (Arts and Humanities, Sciences, Health Sciences, Social and Legal Sciences or Engineering and Architecture), is structured as follows:
- Basic training subjects (minimum of 60 ECTS credits)
- Mandatory subjects
- Optional subjects
- External practice (maximum of 60 ECTS credits)
- End of Degree Project (minimum of 6 and maximum of 30 ECTS credits)
- Recognition for cultural activities (maximum of 6 ECTS credits).
Degree students must enrol in each academic course for a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 90 ECTS credits corresponding to the curriculum for the corresponding degree.
Second Cycle: Masters
University Masters' Degrees are the second level of higher education in Spain. The purpose of these official studies is student specialisation in his or her academic, professional or research training and they culminate with the awarding of a Master's degree valid in all the signatory countries to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
As regards their characteristics, they can have a duration of between 60 and 120 ECTS credits spread over one or two academic years. To be admitted, you need to meet the specific and merit assessment criteria applicable to the selected University Master's degree, where appropriate.
Spanish universities have a Coordination Commission for degrees which sets the procedures and criteria for admission to the Master's programme in any of its periods.
Third Cycle: Doctorate
Doctorate studies in Spain are regulated by Royal Decree 99/2011, of 28 January and have the objective of providing advanced training of the student in research techniques. They are divided into two cycles: one of studies, of at least 60 ECTS credits, which can be part of a Master's programme; and another of research, culminating in the public defence of an original piece of research work (the Doctoral Thesis), by the student.
As regards the maximum time available for passing doctorate studies, a maximum full-time period of three years is set, giving the student an option to pass this part-time over a maximum period of five years.
It is also possible to obtain a “European Doctorate” mention, for which the person studying for a doctorate will have to had spent a minimum of three months outside Spain taking studies or carrying out research; part of his or her thesis will need to be written and presented in one of the habitual languages for scientific communication other than those official languages in Spain; needing to be reviewed by at least two experts doctors from a non-Spanish higher education establishment or research institute; and at least one non-Spanish expert will need to be on the panel evaluating the thesis.