Since the adaptation of the Spanish university system to the guidelines of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the structure of university studies in Spain is now comprises of three levels (or cycles): Bachelor’s degrees (in Spanish, Grado), Master’s degrees, and Doctoral degrees. The Bachelor’s and the Master’s degrees are taught in the following areas:
• Arts and Humanities
• Experimental Sciences
• Health Sciences
• Social and Legal Sciences
• Engineering and Architecture
Level 2: Master’s degree
Master’s degrees require between 60 and 120 ECTS credits spread over one or two academic years.
Official Master’s studies aim to prepare students for academic, professional or research work. The Master’s degree is valid in all countries that are members of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
Level 3: Doctoral degree
The goal of Doctoral programs in Spain is to train the student in advanced research techniques. These programs are divided in two parts (ciclos): the first part consists of 60 classroom credits (courses from the Master’s degree can count); the second part is the actual research, which culminates in the student’s public defense of his/her original research project (Doctoral thesis). The program mandates a maximum of three years as a full-time student (study and research), or five years as a part-time student.
The majority of Spanish universities divide the academic year into two semesters. The first semester typically starts in mid-September or early October. Classes finish in December and are followed by an exam period in January. The second semester starts at the end of January or the beginning of February, finishes at the end of May and is followed by an exam period in June. This schedule can vary between universities, and some schools have a trimester system.