Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Worldwide Degree Programs: A Closer Look at the Bologna Process

 Are you a university student considering the possibility of completing a portion or all of your degree at a foreign institution in Europe?  If you have, you probably already know there are an endless amount of worldwide degree programs available, including those in the various universities within the European Union.  But were you aware that most of the universities in this region have recently switched to a new credit and degree structure?  It’s true.  Beginning in 2007, the institutions of higher learning in most of the countries that make up the European Union began to adopt a standardized credit and degree structure—a structure which was borne out of the Bologna Process.  To help you better understand this recent transformation, below we will discuss the Bologna Process in a bit more detail and show you how these changes have made worldwide degree programs throughout Europe more beneficial and accessible.

Worldwide Degree Programs:  About the Bologna Process

The Bologna Process was a course of action aimed at educational reform in the higher education institutions throughout Europe.  According to their official website “the overreaching aim of the Bologna Process is to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) based on international cooperation and academic exchange that is attractive to European students and staff as well as to students and staff from other parts of the world.” 

So how exactly do these worldwide degree programs work? 

Standardizing the credit and degree system in European universities is the main focus of the Bologna Process.  Under this new structure there are now three distinct cycles of education:

Cycle One

Cycle one represents the first level of education, usually spanning three years.  For each year completed, students earn 60 credits, with 180 credits needed to finish the undergraduate program.  No degree is awarded after the first cycle of education, but students who successfully complete the program are eligible to enroll in cycle two, after which they will earn a degree. 

In most countries there is also an alternative program for students not interested in pursuing a second-cycle education. These programs typically span four years, in which students are required to earn 240 credits, ultimately leading to an undergraduate or Bachelor degree.

Cycle Two

The second cycle, as outlined in the Bologna Process, spans two years, in which students must earn a minimum of 120 credits (certain programs may take 3 years or 180 credits).  Following successful completion of cycle two students are awarded a Master of Arts or Master of Science Degree in their particular field of study.

Cycle Three

Students who have successfully completed the Master’s program in cycle two are eligible to enroll in the third cycle, representing doctoral or PhD studies.  These programs vary in length, and while there is no specific credit requirement outlined for cycle three in the Bologna Process, most doctoral programs will span three years, during which students will earn 180 credits.  More advanced fields may take up to four to five years to complete.

The Benefits

The main goal of worldwide degree programs such as this is to create unity in higher education, not just in the universities in Europe, but in other parts of the world as well. Although the transformation was initially resisted by many countries, the changes outlined in the Bologna Process have now been implemented in almost every European university with good results.  Among the many benefits, the new structure has been shown to help:

•           Facilitate transfers throughout Europe and ease the mobility of students, graduates and faculty
•           Prepare students for careers and life in a democratic society and support their personal development
•           Increase access to high-quality education, based on democratic principles and academic freedom
Today there are over 47 countries united under this new educational structure, all demonstrating why worldwide degree programs are more student and staff friendly than those that are merely national or regional.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Online education might be considered by many though there are still students who prefer to take short term study abroad programs. Studying abroad widens not only the knowledge but as well as the social skills of a student.

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