University studies are organised into three cycles: Bachelor's degree, Master's degree and PhD

Bachelor's degree: gaining basic knowledge and skills 

A Bachelor's (1st cycle) degree offers a more generalist education that will enable you to acquire basic knowledge and skills in your chosen field. 
You will also develop your independence, critical thinking and creativity, qualities that are highly sought after and appreciated at university. 
The Bachelor's degree consists of a programme of 180 credits (see box for the definition of a credit). It is designed to be completed in 3 years.  
A Bachelor's degree provides direct access to Master's studies in the same discipline. However, different paths are possible via a transfer to a different programme, including through a system of bridge programmes for students holding a higher education college diploma.

Master's degree: building on knowledge and skills 

The Master's (2nd cycle) degree allows you to build on the knowledge and skills acquired on the Bachelor's degree and to choose a specialist area. 
It offers: 

  • various professional focuses leading to career opportunities 
  • a teaching focus that prepares you for teaching careers 
  • a research focus that prepares you for the methods of scientific research and careers in research. 

The Master's degree generally consists of a programme of 120 credits, designed to be completed in 2 years (see box for the definition of a credit). 
However, an exception is made for medicine and veterinary medicine (180 credits) and certain 60-credit Master's degrees (see below). 
The Master's also includes a piece of work to be submitted at the end of the degree (dissertation) and often one or more internships. 
A certain number of Advanced Masters (worth 60 credits or more) are organised to complement the Master's courses offered in highly specialised fields. 

PhD: research is the goal

PhD (3rd cycle) studies include doctoral training and work relating to the preparation of a thesis under the responsibility of a supervisor and within a research team. They end with the submission and then the defence of the thesis in front of a specialist examination board. 

Programmes, blocks, course units and assessments: what do they all involve? 

A study programme is defined for each Bachelor's and Master's degree. It includes some compulsory courses and other courses that are chosen by the student. 

Each course or Course Unit (CU) is associated with a number of credits. The CUs are grouped together into annual blocks of 60 credits. At the start of the year, the student receives an individual annual programme (Student's Annual Programme or SAP) taking account of their blocks, the CUs they have already successfully completed and various educational considerations. 

Each CU is subject to assessment(s) in the form of exams, work to hand in, etc. When the result is at least 10/20, the course unit is credited. When the CUs of a cycle are all credited, the Bachelor's or Master's degree is awarded. 

Updated on April 10, 2024