Types of Higher Education Degrees in Belgium

The Belgium higher education institutions conform to the Bologna Process and follow a 3-cycle system-Bachelor, Master and Doctorate Degree system. Doctorate degree is also awarded only by Universities in Belgium. 

General Degree Structure in Belgium 

First Cycle: Bachelor’s Degree

The Bachelor Degree in Belgium provides general training. 
  • Duration: 3 years
  • ECTS Credits: 180

Second Cycle: Master’s degree

The Master’s degree further the knowledge of a specific subject gained from undergraduate studies. 
  • Entry requisite: Students who possess a Bachelor’s degree are eligible to apply for a Master degree programme in Belgium. The Master’s degree programmes aims to provide advanced skills and knowledge in a specific field of study. At the end of the programme, students are required to present a dissertation. 
  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • ECTS Credits: 60 or 120 Credits (Medicine: 240 ECTS credits)
Advanced Master’s Degree
Students who hold a Master’s degree can go for Advanced Master’s degree programme. Advanced Master programs are worth a minimum of 60 ECTS credits and are rounded off with a Master's thesis, which constitutes an important component of the assessment process. 

Third Cycle: Doctorate Degree/PhD

A PhD is the highest qualification awarded by Universities in Belgium. During the conclusion of the PhD, students are required to present and defend a thesis in public. The aim of the thesis is to make a notable contribution to the development and growth of the academic knowledge. The PhD is carried out under the directions of a supervisor. 
  • Duration: 3-4 years (Varies)

Flemish Community Higher Education Qualifications

Undergraduate Studies

Bachelor's Degree Programmes

The Flemish Community offers professional, advanced and academic bachelor programmes. 

Professional Bachelor Programmes: Focuses on a specific profession/career in education, agriculture, health, informatics, industry, media, applied arts, social work, and commerce. The programmes are practice and profession-oriented. This degree is only given by the University Colleges in Belgium and consists of at least 180 ECTS credits.   The Professional Bachelor Programme lasts for 3 years. 

Advanced Bachelor Programmes: Covers a minimum of 60 ECTS credits and provide practical as well as academic education. These programmes deepen the knowledge gained in the professional bachelor programmes. Pupils must possess a bachelor degree to take admittance into this programme. The Advanced Bachelor Programme lasts for 3 years. 

Academic Bachelor Programmes: These degrees are given by Universities and a few of the University Colleges in Belgium and prepare pupils for further studies, i.e.  for Master’s level studies. These programmes consist of a minimum of 180 credits and lasts for 3 years.

Graduate Degrees

Master's Degree Programmes

The Flemish Community offers Master Programmes and Advanced Master Programmes.

Master Programmes: A Master’s degree programme in Belgium comprises of education and research and at the conclusion of the programme, students must submit a Master’s dissertation. The Master programmes have academic as well as professional orientation and cover a minimum of 60 ECTS Credits. 
  • Duration: 1- 2 years (Fields like medicine, engineering law, psychology, and so on lasts longer) 
Advanced Master Programmes: These programmes are offered by Universities and universities Colleges in the framework of an association and at postgraduate training institutions. These programmes further the knowledge and competencies in a specific discipline. Pupils must have a Master’s degree in order to gain admittance into an Advance Master Programme. These programmes include at least 60 ECTS credits and lasts for 1 year.

PhD Degree Programmes

PhD is the highest level of specialization and is awarded by Universities only. A Public presentation of a doctoral thesis is required at the end of the programme. 

Other Qualifications

Diploma Supplement

The Flemish diploma supplement is formed as per the recommendation of the Council of Europe, the European Commission and UNESCO.  It is awarded to all the pupils irrespective of their course/programme. A diploma supplement is free of charge and delivered in Dutch as well as in English on students’ request.

Double Degree

A double degree, also known as dual degree, comprises of 2 single degrees given within the framework of a double degree agreement. The double degree agreement can be formed between 2 partner institutions if they agree that there is adequate similarity in the objectives and learning results of two of their individually accredited study programmes. As a result, if a student registered in such programme successfully goes for a mobility period at the partner institution involved, in that case, the student will be awarded the degree of this institution, similar to the degree of the home institution.

Joint Degree

A joint degree is a single degree given after successful completion of an integrated joint degree programme. Such degree programme is jointly developed, executed and managed by two or more higher education institutions.

French Community Higher Education Qualifications

The degrees awarded by the higher education institutions of Wallonia-Brussels are-

Undergraduate Studies

Bachelor’s Degree

 This is the first cycle degree programme and provides a general education.  The University as well as Non-University institutions offer bachelor degree programmes in Belgium. The Non-University higher education institutions offer short-term as well as long-term courses. 
  • Duration: 3 years
  • ECTS Credits: 180

Graduate Studies

Specialisation Degree Programmes

 These programmes offer courses in specific domains.
  • ECTS Credits: 60

Master’s Degree Programme

This is the second cycle degree programme and offered in a specific field of study.
  • ECTS Credits: 60 or 120 (Medicine or Veterinary medicine requires 180 credits)
  • Duration: 1-2 years (Veterinary- 3 years and Medical degree – 4 years)

Postgraduate Studies

Doctorate Degree Programme

This is the highest level qualification and awarded only by Universities. It lasts for 3 years  and consists of a doctoral training that leads to a research training certificate, and a doctoral thesis that leads to a title of doctor after the submission and defence of the thesis. 
  • ECTS Credits: 180 (60 credits for doctoral training and 120 credits for doctoral thesis)
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