Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area
The overarching Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area derives its distinctive purposes from the objectives expressed through the Bologna Process: international transparency, recognition, and mobility.
International recognition of qualifications builds on transparency. The overarching Qualification Framework, provides a common understanding of the outcomes of a programme as represented by the qualification (diploma). This contrasts with a mere assertion of comparability. The overarching Qualification Framework greatly enhances the usefulness of qualifications across the EHEA.
The overarching Qualification Framework was developed by the higher education stakeholders across Europe.
First cycle - Bachelor's level
Qualifications that signify completion of the first cycle (e.g. Bachelor's degrees) are awarded to students who:
- have demonstrated knowledge and understanding in a field of study that builds upon their general secondary education, and is typically at a level that, whilst supported by advanced textbooks, includes some aspects that will be informed by knowledge of the forefront of their field of study;
- can apply their knowledge and understanding in a manner that indicates a professional approach to their work or vocation, and have competences typically demonstrated through devising and sustaining arguments and solving problems within their field of study;
- have the ability to gather and interpret relevant data (usually within their field of study) to inform judgements that include reflection on relevant social, scientific or ethical issues;
- can communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences;
- have developed those learning skills that are necessary for them to continue to undertake further study with a high degree of autonomy.
Second cycle - Master's level
Qualifications that signify completion of the second cycle (e.g. Master's degrees) are awarded to students who:
- have demonstrated knowledge and understanding that is founded upon and extends and/or enhances that typically associated with the first cycle, and that provides a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, often within a research context;
- can apply their knowledge and understanding, and problem solving abilities in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to their field of study;
- have the ability to integrate knowledge and handle complexity, and formulate judgements with incomplete or limited information, but that include reflecting on social and ethical responsibilities linked to the application of their knowledge and judgements;
- can communicate their conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and nonspecialist audiences clearly and unambiguously;
- have the learning skills to allow them to continue to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous.
Third cycle - PhD
Qualifications that signify completion of the third cycle are awarded to students who:
- have demonstrated a systematic understanding of a field of study and mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with that field;
- have demonstrated the ability to conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity;
- have made a contribution through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge by developing a substantial body of work, some of which merits national or international refereed publication;
- are capable of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas;
- can communicate with their peers, the larger scholarly community and with society in general about their areas of expertise;
- can be expected to be able to promote, within academic and professional contexts, technological, social or cultural advancement in a knowledge based society.