Academic titles

Academic titles
What’s what and who’s who
• Higher education is what happens AFTER high
• 2 levels of higher education
– Undergraduate coursework
• Associate (after 2 years)
• Bachelor degree (after 3 years)
– Graduate coursework
• Master degree
• Doctoral degree
The difference between levels
• Undergraduate coursework is a basic educational foundation within a
given program of study following high school.
– The course work includes a general cluster of knowledge that promotes a well
rounded education. Thus, the student is exposed to a variety of areas, not just
their chosen field of study.
– These areas would include general education courses such as First Language,
Math/statistics, History, Laboratory Science, courses in Humanities, Economic
and Social Sciences to mention a few.
– These “general” courses would be tightly coupled with the students Major
Requirements and Major Elective Requirements.
• Major requirements: mandatory for degree in “chosen major”
• Major Elective Requirements: mandatory for chosen “specialization”
• Graduate course work - in most cases - is very specific and particular to
one field of study.
– Thus, the graduate study is advanced course work which follows
undergraduate course work.
National variation: EU
• Principles for graduate and undergraduate degrees are
set in the so called “Bologna agreements”
– all EU education ministries agreed in Bologna to reform
their national eduction system to adhere with the UK/USinspired undergraduate-graduate-coursework principle
(regulating so-called level 5, 7 and 7 degrees)
• All degree-programs remain to this moment nationally
defined by one or the other local government agency
– But the Bologna agreements stipulate that from “Bologna
onwards” all government-subsidized colleges and
universities agree to accept study credits gained in
“foreign” EU-institutes through an as yet bilateral interinstitute “exchange rate” called ECTS or European Credits.
National variations: f.e. UK
• Descriptors for graduate and undergraduate degrees
are set by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher
Education (QAA) in their document "The Framework
for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland". (FHEQ)
• A bachelor degree is specified as a level 6 course
• A master degree is specified as a level 7 course
• Though level 5 associate studies do excist as yet we
couldn’t find specific degree definitions.
– Closest I can find is “A-levels”: you choose the courses, not
a specific course program
US situation
• information on the difference between varying levels of tertiary
(post high school) education is given on the US Department of
Education website.
• In the US there are 6 main levels of post high school degrees:
– Undergraduate courses
• Level 1: freshman-years
• Level 2: senior years
 Associate Degrees
 Bachelors Degrees
– Graduate courses
• Level 3: First-Professional Degrees
 professional doctoral degree
– F.e. medical professional doctoral = MD
• Level 4: Master's Degrees
 Master
– Post-graduate courses
• Level 5: Intermediate Graduate Qualifications  f.e. MBA
• Level 6: Research Doctorate Degrees  Academic Doctoral degree
– F.e. medical doctoral = PhD
Confusion: which school does what?
• Confusion:
– Same words, different meaning in different
languages and countries
• General rule in Western Culture countries
– College
• degrees up to level 6, no research facilities
– University
• level 7-degrees, research facilities, more prestigious
In roman cultures
– “collège” is a secondary school
– “collège Grande Ecole” is “higher” then a university for engeneering degrees
– Only universities can give degrees
– Colleges can’t unless they are university colleges which means they have associates with a
“real” university that certifies their degrees.
In Australia and Canada
– Only universities can give degrees
They “do” level 7 degrees only
– Colleges give diplomas and certificates
They “do” up to bachelor degrees (usually a 4 year trajectory)
– A “college” is an institute of higher education specialised in one are the other subject
F.e. business college
– A “university” is a conglomerate of several colleges
F.e. Harvard university
– A renoun higher education institute can be both a college or a university or an institute
F.e. Dartmour college, Harvard university, MIT
• US “Community college”
– College that offers degrees up to level 5 (2-year
– Community colleges can offer trade and technical
certifications and training as well as the first 2
years of a 4-year program, but they are unable to
grant Bachelor's degrees.
Strutting your stuff
• Community colleges US
– Basic argument: time investment vs return
• Associate only takes 2 years, bachelor 4
• Associate education focusses on specific majors skipping
some are all of the “generals” in a bachelor program
– Possibility of transfering associate program credits directly to
university credits in same “specific” avoiding the “vocational
bachelor detour” in science and arts
• Salary jump
– from high school to associate degree: 15%
– From associate to bachelor: anywhere from 0% to 5%
• Associate studies = open enrollment
– Your tempo, your finances, your timing, your “composition”
• Associate:
– (UK equivalent)
• College vs university:
• Graduate vs undergraduate
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