Study a master

Nowadays, it is essential not to get stuck and continue the higher studies when finishing a degree. Studying a master or a postgraduate can make the difference to get the job of your dreams or achieve the practical specialization that you have not been able to develop in your career.

What is a master?

A master’s degree is a postgraduate study corresponding to a third university cycle whose objective is to achieve specialized or advanced training in a specific subject. Its duration is usually one to two academic years and, depending on its type, it may have a professional or research orientation.

What types of master’s and postgraduate degrees exist?

The education system in Europe has undergone many changes in recent years. The arrival of the Bologna Plan and the constant educational reforms in such a short period have caused notorious confusion both to students and professors, who have been forced to adapt to a constantly changing process. On the other hand, the economic crisis and the lack of employment have caused the increase in the supply of studies, submerging us in a tangle of titles and having increased our doubts even more.

What is the difference between a master’s own and an official master’s degree? And between a master’s own and a master’s degree? What is an MBA? What do postgraduate diplomas, expert courses or university specializations have in common?

These and other questions are what we intend to answer in this article. If you want to know what kind of studies there are after completing the degree, read on.

What is a postgraduate

First of all, we will begin by defining what a postgraduate degree is, and then break down each one of the existing categories, sorting them according to their duration and time invested.

A Postgraduate degree is, by definition, any education that is completed after having finished the undergraduate studies (or former degrees and diplomas). They have, therefore, a higher level than the undergraduate studies and they differ from these in their orientation especially aimed at professionalization at work. All postgraduates are their own; that is, they do not have an official character. Within the postgraduate studies, different types are included. Namely:

University Expert: This is a degree that seeks to train students in subjects related to professionalization of work, which has a duration of 150 to 400 teaching hours and has between 15 and 29 ECTS credits. The access requirements require to be in possession of an official Spanish University Degree or another one issued by a higher education institution of the European Education Area. Exceptionally, the academic director can admit students who have worked more than three years and that is directly related to the degree in question or to undergraduate students who have less than 30 ECTS credits.

Diploma of University Extension: These are their own degrees that aim to deepen students professionally. To access these courses it is not necessary to have a university degree, but to certify certain professional experience. From 30 ECTS credits the university extension diploma is obtained, while for less than 30 credits an extension certificate is obtained.

Diploma of Specialization: This degree requires between 200 and 400 teaching hours, and has between 30 and 59 ECTS credits. It has the same access requirements as the University Expert degree and is also oriented towards professional specialization.

What is a master

Next, we would have the Master’s degree, which differs from postgraduate studies in three main characteristics:

Duration: A master has a teaching load higher than a postgraduate degree, which does not exceed 59 ECTS credits. In contrast, a master has a minimum of 60 ECTS credits and a maximum of 120 (between one and two years).

Itineraries: Depending on your objectives, a master can have a professional orientation, focused on practical specialization and immediate entry into the labor market, or research, leading to the doctorate. In some masters, there is a mixed or academic option, in which courses of both orientations are taken.

Official title: It can be official (university) or its own, unlike the graduate program, which will always have its own character. Due to this, the requirements of access to the master vary according to the officiality of the same, requiring for the officers a university degree to be able to attend them.

Therefore, within the master category, we can distinguish certain differences that force us to divide them into the following subcategories:

University Masters (or Officials): those that have an official character, are regulated by the National Agency for the Evaluation of Quality and Accreditation (ANECA) and, therefore, are approved in the 47 countries that make up the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). They have a character oriented to academic research, and are essential for the realization of a PhD.

Own or Professional Masters: these are titles of their own character whose approval is subject to the normative procedure of the university or educational center that imparts it. They are not regulated by ANECA and have no validity outside European territory.

Qualifying Masters: these are degrees regulated by the ANECA and adapted to the European Higher Education Area (EESS), and are essential for the realization of certain regulated professional activities. Next, the list of the main professions that require the realization of this type of master:

  • lawyer
  • Architect
  • Aeronautic engineer
  • Agricultural engineer
  • Engineer of roads, canals and ports
  • Mine engineer
  • Mountain engineer
  • Telecommunications Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Naval and Oceanic Engineer
  • Court Procurator
  • Professor of Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate
  • Professor of Artistic Teaching
  • Professor of Language Teaching
  • Teacher of Sports Education
  • Professor of Vocational Training
  • General Health Psychologist
  • MBA

On the other hand, the increase in the relevance of the MBA has forced us to dedicate a category that separates them from the rest. But what is an MBA?

The acronym MBA refers to a Master of Business Administration or Master in Business Administration. This is an eminently businessthemed master’s degree whose notoriety has earned it the highest international recognition. It is recommended to those students who wish to hold positions of entrepreneurial responsibility and entrepreneurs who have in mind any type of business. It is characterized by fostering skills such as leadership, conflict resolution, the creation of business strategies and crisis management and, unlike other masters, it can last between 1 to 3 years.

As for its validity, it can be official or its own, depending on the educational center or university that offers it. In addition, some subcategories can be distinguished within them, among which we highlight two main types:

Executive MBA (or parttime): Oriented mainly for active professionals. The work load is less so that it can be compatible with the work.

MBA Full Time (or full time): The study load is greater because the dedication is intensive.


To finish, and finally, both for educational level and for its duration, we have a Doctorate. Unlike the studies mentioned above, which belonged to a second cycle, a Doctorate is the third and last cycle of official university studies.

Its objective is to achieve the acquisition of competences and skills for obtaining the Doctor degree, and its duration is variable depending on the years that the student needs for the completion of his doctoral thesis. In general, the average is between 4 and 8 years old. To be able to access a doctoral study, it is essential to carry out a university or official master, leaving out those of their own character.

Now that you know what kind of studies follow the completion of a degree, what are you waiting for to find the master or postgraduate that best suits your needs?