Everything you should know about degrees and qualifications

Different types of academic qualifications after undergraduate or Master’s studies

It is often difficult to define what qualifications we have in comparison to foreign degrees after finishing undergraduate (Bachelor’s) or Master’s studies. In this article we explain to you what the differences are between Master of Arts and Master of Science, what is a Bachelor of Art or Bachelor with honours and other additional features to do with degrees obtained abroad.


Undergraduate studies

When we are talking about undergraduate studies after studying at our universities, in our system one obtains the title of graduate economist or lawyer, etc. In other countries it is a little different. After Bachelor’s studies, you obtain an academic title which depends on whether you have completed a social or natural science. Undergraduate (Bachelor’s) studies abroad last for 3 year, not 4 as they do here. This degree is a prerequisite for Master’s studies.


1. Bachelor of Arts (BA) – This degree is obtained upon completion of undergraduate studies in the area of social sciences: Political Sciences, Philology, Philosophy, History, etc. They usually take 3 or 4 years, depending on the institution and country in which you study.

2. Bachelor of Science (BSc) – This degree is mainly obtained by undergraduate students studying natural sciences: Economics, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, etc. They last between 3 and 5 years depending on the subject, country, as well as the individual university.

3. Bachelor with honours – This is an undergraduate degree where you mainly have more teaching content and a graduation paper or project. Both BA and BSc degrees can be “with honours”. Also, they last slightly longer than ordinary Bachelor’s studies.

4. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) – This degree is obtained by students of visual and applied arts. Studies can last 3 or 4 years depending on the country or university.

5. Bachelor of Applied Sciences (BASc) – This degree is obtained upon completion of a University of Applied Sciences, which in our country would be Higher School. These studies last 4 years and are very much oriented towards practical work and are most useful in the area of IT.


6. Bachelor of Law (LLB) – This is an undergraduate degree in the area of law. It lasts 3 years, except in the USA, where you need to have already completed 4-year undergraduate studies, and only then can you enrol at a 3-year Law School.


Master’s studies

Here the distinction is somewhat simpler. It is very important to emphasise that the prerequisite for Master’s studies has always been an undergraduate degree. Master’s courses last 1 or 2 years. This all depends on the country, as well as varying from university to university. If you have completed 3-year or 4-year studies you can enrol on a 1-year or 2-year Master’s. The difference is that the 2-year studies have more teaching content and are a prerequisite for doctoral studies, while the 1-year studies are more for students who want to go into practical work immediately after finishing. 




1. Master of Arts (MA) – This is a postgraduate degree studied after a BA. It is awarded after completing studies in the areas of: Linguistics, Philosophy, History, etc. It can last 1 or 2 years, depending on the country or university.

2. Master of Science (MSc) – This is a postgraduate degree studied after an undergraduate BSc. It is awarded after completing studies in the areas of: Chemistry, Physics, Economics, etc. It can last 1 or 2 years depending on the country or university. 

3. Master of Business Administration (MBA) – The basis of the MBA programme is various fields of business and economics, such as accountancy, applied statistics, business communication, business ethics, business law, finance, management economics, management, entrepreneurship, marketing and business in a way which is most relevant to analysis and management strategy. It takes longer than the usual Master’s, mostly 2-5 years and requires at least two years’ work experience. Of course this does not always have to be a condition, but the more serious MBA programmes at prestigious universities usually consider this to be a rule.

4. Master of Fine Arts (MFA) – This is the degree obtained after completing undergraduate studies in visual or applied arts. Master’s courses in these fields most often last 2 years.


5. Master of Law (LLM) – This is a degree obtained Master’s studies in the area of law. These Master’s courses usually last 2 years in the USA, and in Europe there are 1-year or 2-year Master’s.


PhD studies 

PhD or doctoral studies are studies undertaken after completing 2 or more years of Master’s studies. These studies are based on scientific research on as-yet unresearched topics from your area of study and they are the path towards an academic career. Doctoral studies are not enrolled on in the classic way and in other countries they are treated in the same way as paid employment. Eighty percent of the doctoral study is research and writing up the doctoral thesis, while the remaining 20% is teaching students at university. A PhD takes 3-7 years, depending on the subject, country, institution, etc. There is no deadline to finish it and usually people enrol for this later on in life. After finishing a PhD you are considered an expert in your area of studies.



These degrees can also often be both a BA and a BSc or MA and MSc, this depends on the country in which you study as well as the institution itself. Don’t let this confuse you because in principle they are all fairly similar, the differences perhaps only relate to a few exams or to projects at the end of the studies.

Completing 3-year studies is no obstacle to doing a 1-year Master’s, unlike in our country. The UK, the Netherlands and Sweden offer mainly 1-year Master’s. However, if you do wish to continue towards doctoral studies, then choose a 2-year Master’s.


Our advice is, if you continue your academic career, start to look for a mentor for doctoral studies as early as the beginning of your Master’s. There are usually very few places at universities for future PhD graduates so it is necessary to guarantee yourself a place as soon as possible. Try to write a good proposal for doctoral research and an interesting Master’s dissertation together with that teacher, i.e. future mentor.

We hope that we have eliminated any doubts you may have had related to this subject. If you have decided to study abroad or you wish to contact us personally, fill in the form below!


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