Skip to main content

Definition of concepts

Third cycle university studies
Studies that if passed entitle obtainment of a PhD certificate following the drafting and acceptance of a thesis. If they are homologated they are called PhD (doctorate) programmes. These can also be individual (unregulated) titles such as masters, postgraduate diplomas and university specialisation courses.

Methodological aspects

We have used the information provided by the Generalitat de Catalunya's Ministry of Economy and Knowledge, obtained from the statistics services of Catalan universities. Data is offered on the number of teachers, and students enrolled at and qualified by the private and public universities that make up the Catalan university system. Data is also included in relation to the number of students taking third cycle (PhD and continuing education) courses. Since the Bologna Plan came into force (2010), information has been included on students enrolled for official degrees and masters. At the moment there are two coexisting systems until the expiry of the old plan. Data is also provided on PhD theses, and on students on the different student mobility programmes.

The structure of university degree courses

Within the framework of the European Higher Education Area, university education is currently based on a three-cycle degree structure leading to students obtaining the corresponding official bachelor's and university master’s degrees and doctorates.

Bachelor’s degrees

These are the first degree courses studied when students are admitted to universities. The aim of these courses of study is to provide students with a general knowledge of their chosen field, to prepare them for their future professional careers. The syllabi correspond to 240 credits and consist of theoretical and practical training distributed as follows: basic degree knowledge, compulsory subjects, optional subjects, practical training in companies and a bachelor’s degree final project. University bachelor’s degrees fall under one of the following branches of knowledge: Arts & Humanities, Science, Health Sciences, Social and Legal Sciences, and Architecture and Engineering.

University master’s degrees

These begin following completion of a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degrees are intended to provide the student with advanced specialist or multidisciplinary training aimed at academic or professional specialisation, or to enable the student to embark on research projects. The syllabus corresponds to 60 or 120 credits and contains all the theory and practice the student must acquire, distributed as follows: compulsory subjects, optional subjects, seminars, practical training in companies, supervised assignments and a university master's degree final project. University master’s degrees fall under one of the following branches of knowledge: Arts & Humanities, Science, Health Sciences, Social and Legal Sciences, and Architecture and Engineering.


Official university doctorates enable the student to gain the skills and abilities required for quality scientific research. The aim of doctoral programmes is to develop the different aspects of the PhD candidate's training and to establish the procedures and the line of research to enable them to produce a doctoral thesis. Doctoral programmes last for a maximum of three years, full time, from the admission of the PhD candidate to the programme to presentation of the thesis, or five years if the doctorate is studied on a part-time basis. To gain admission to an official doctoral programme, students must have an official bachelor's degree from a Spanish university, or equivalent degree, and a university master's degree, although individual universities may apply additional entry criteria requiring specific training.

The structure of pre-EHEA studies

The official university courses that have been offered since before the implementation of the European Higher Education Area are also structured into cycles. In line with current legislation, these courses will end definitively on 30 September 2015.

First-cycle studies

Qualification on completion: three-year degree graduate, teacher, technical architect or technical engineer. Total credits: a minimum of 180 credits obtained over three academic years. There are currently no places available to start these courses of study.

First- and second-cycle studies

Qualification on completion: four-year degree graduate, architect or engineer. Total credits: a minimum of 300 credits obtained over four or five academic years. Places are currently only available on the second cycles of these courses of study.

Second-cycle studies

Admission: completion of a first-cycle university course, or holding a three-year degree or qualification as a technical architect, technical engineer or teacher. It is the universities themselves that govern admission to these second-cycle courses. Qualification on completion: four-year degree graduate, architect or engineer. Total credits: a minimum of 120 credits obtained over two academic years.

Third-cycle studies

These are known as doctoral programmes and are a necessary requirement for obtaining the official title of doctor. Admission: applicants must be four-year degree graduates, architects or engineers. The Doctoral Committee of each university is the body with authority over admission to doctoral programmes.

Total credits: a minimum of 32 credits

The research competence corresponds to the doctorates previous to the EHEA studies, which are no longer offered. Consequently, there are universities that no longer have any students.

Also, keep in mind that students that do competence research later left because these students are not required to enroll and universities do not collect this information.

Provisional data

Catalan universities are:

Name Year established
University of Barcelona (UB) 1837
Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) 1968
Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) 1971
Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) 1990
University of Lleida (UdL) 1991
University of Girona (UdG) 1991
Rovira i Virgili University (URV) 1991
Open University of Catalonia (UOC) 1995
Ramon Llull University (URL) 1991
University of Vic (UVic) the 2014 renamed University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) 1997
Internacional University of Catalonia (UIC) 1997
Abat Oliba CEU University (UAO) 2003

Unavailable information is represented using the symbol ":". When the value is lower than that of the minimum unit to be able to estimate the statistical operation or if it effects statistical confidentiality, the symbol used is "..".