This is the StudyPortals ABC, the glossary of frequently used terms that might need some explanation. Unfortunately, some terms are ambiguous and have different meanings in different parts of the world. We try to use the common denominator for the European Area and use these terms consistently in the Portal according to the following definitions. Any terms missing? Contact us!

Bachelor’s degree

An undergraduate academic degree usually awarded for a course or major that generally lasts for three or four years.

Bologna process

The purpose of the Bologna process is to create the European higher education area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe. All EHEA countries have signed the declaration. The basic framework adopted is of three cycles of higher education qualification, these cycles are defined in terms of qualifications and ECTS credits:

  • 1st cycle: typically 180-240 ECTS credits, usually awarding a Bachelor’s degree. (3-4 Years)
  • 2nd cycle: typically 90-120 ECTS credits (a minimum of 60 on 2nd-cycle level). Usually awarding a Master’s degree. (1-3 years)
  • 3rd cycle: Doctoral degree. No ECTS range given.


a status level conferred by institutions of higher education, normally as a result of successfully completing a programme of study. Common examples are the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Master of Arts degrees.

Distance Learning

A type of education where students (primarily) work on their own at home or at the office and communicate with faculty and other students via e-mail, electronic forums, videoconferencing, chat rooms, bulletin boards, instant messaging and other forms of computer-based communication.

Doctorate studies

A doctorate is an academic degree of the highest level. Research doctorate degrees (e.g. PhD) are generally awarded after 3-5 years of postgraduate research and study and submission of a thesis. Professional doctorates are awarded in the professional disciplines of e.g. law and medicine.


European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education across the European Union. For successfully completed studies, ECTS credits are awarded. One academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS-credits in all countries irrespective of standard or qualification type and is used to facilitate transfer and progression throughout the Union. One ECTS credit should represent a study workload of approximately 28 hours.


European Economic Area, the free-trade area of European states. Which consists of the EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. As of the agreement of the “Free movement of people” within the EEA and Switzerland the tuition fees for students from an EEA country are in most cases the same as for Swiss students. Therefore the search here “includes” Switzerland in the EEA.


European Higher Education Area, all countries that have signed the Bologna declaration: Current signatories and thus members of the “European higher education area” are: Albania – Andorra – Armenia -Austria – Azerbaijan – Belgium – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Bulgaria – Croatia – Cyprus – Czech Republic – Denmark – Estonia – Finland – France – Georgia – Germany – Greece – Holy See – Hungary – Iceland – Ireland – Italy – Latvia – Lithuania – Luxembourg – Malta – Montenegro – Moldova – Netherlands – Norway – Poland – Portugal – Macedonia – Romania – Russia – Serbia – Slovakia – Slovenia – Spain – Sweden – Switzerland – Turkey – Ukraine – UK.

Erasmus Mundus

Erasmus Mundus is a scholarship and co-operation programme in the field of higher education which promotes the European Union as a centre of excellence in learning around the world. Also see our article on Erasmus Mundus.


The European Union, a supranational and intergovernmental union of nation states in Europe, consisting of: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and The United Kingdom.


The Graduate Management Admissions Test, better known by the acronym GMAT (pronounced G-mat), is a standardized test for determining aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Its cost is currently US$ 250. See and

Graduate studies

Postgraduate, or simply graduate studies is education pursued after attaining a Bachelor’s degree, usually leading to a Master’s (or doctorate) degree.


The Graduate Record Examination or GRE is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in English speaking countries (especially USA). It is a computer based test, see and


International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test of English language proficiency. The test focuses on “International English”, which includes British English, American English and other varieties. There are around 300 test centres worldwide. There are up to 48 test dates available per year. Each test centre offers tests up to four times a month depending on local demand. See

Joint programme

A programme that is organised in cooperation between several universities. In the MastersPortal, a joint programme always consists of studies at more than one university, in more than one city.


Master of Laws; a postgraduate academic master’s degree awarded after a postgraduate programme in Law. The abbreviation originates from its latin name Legum Magister.


Master of Arts; a postgraduate academic master’s degree awarded after a postgraduate programme, typically in Fine Art, Humanities, Social Science or Theology and can be either fully-taught, research-based, or a combination of the two.

Master’s degree

An academic degree usually awarded for completion of a (post)graduate course of one to three years in duration.


Master of Business Administration: A special Master’s degree in Business Administration. MBAs are often privately taught and therefore tuition fees can be high. Many MBA programmes require work experience.


In most countries, Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) is a research degree, requiring the completion of a thesis. It is a lesser degree than the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and is regarded as a senior or second Master’s degree.


Master of Science; a postgraduate academic master’s degree awarded after a postgraduate programme, typically in pure and applied sciences, sometimes in Social Sciences, Fine Art, Humanities or Theology and can be either fully-taught, research-based, or a combination of the two.


Doctor of Philosophy, is usually awarded to a graduate student who has completed an advanced course of study in some discipline, passed comprehensive examinations on the subject, written a thesis containing original research, and defended its content before a committee of professors. The universities that offer it generally require the student to have completed at least a bachelor’s or sometimes a master’s degree before matriculating for a Ph.D., and to have been in residence for at least three years after matriculation before the degree can be awarded.

Postgraduate studies

See Graduate studies

Research programme

A research programme generally aims to prepare students for an academic career (e.g. pursuing a PhD). Research programmes consist of a relatively large amount of methodology courses, individual research projects and publishing/dissertation work.

Taught programme

A taught programme generally consists of mostly traditional lectures, exams and assignments. This is opposed to a research programme, which aims to prepare students more for an academic career, consisting more individual research, dissertations and methodology courses.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language evaluates the potential success of an individual to use and understand Standard American English at a college level. It is required for non-native applicants at many English-speaking colleges and universities. A TOEFL score is valid for two years and then is deleted from the official database. The test is internet-based. See

Undergraduate studies

Education pursued after secondary school that leads to the level of a Bachelor’s degree.

Sources: Wikipedia; Webopedia