What are the main differences between an official master’s and a university-specific master’s?

13 October 2022 | University life

Both these options are great for completing your education because they increase your knowledge and are usually more specific than undergraduate courses. For these reasons we believe either of them will benefit you and complement your undergraduate qualifications.

In English-speaking countries, the normal system is that universities offer their own degree programmes, in other words, the universities themselves design their courses and the institution’s prestige and reputation is a guarantee of their quality. You need to take this into account if you want to study for a master’s degree outside of Spain which has two types of master’s degrees.

In Spain, official degrees (at bachelor, master and doctorate level) are endorsed by the university which offers them and are recognised by the State. These courses are evaluated by the State to guarantee their quality. On the other hand, the quality of university-specific degrees are also guaranteed but only by the prestige of the university or other training centre which issues them.

In the following paragraphs we will tell you about the differences between these two types of degree to make it easier for you to choose between them.

Recognition in the labour market

If you want to work in any public administration post you must have an official degree. However, for other jobs the recognition of a master’s depends on the prestige of the university which awards it and where you study. In general, companies don’t take into account whether the qualification is an official or university-specific degree; they are more concerned with the reputation of the university and the knowledge the student will have acquired by the time they finish the master’s course.

Accessing the course

To take an official master’s degree you must already have the university degree which precedes these postgraduate studies. This bachelor’s degree must have been awarded by an educational institution which belongs to the Spanish State, while to study for a university-specific master’s you have to have done the baccalaureate (bachillerato) or vocational training. In this last case, whether you are able to access the course will depend on your professional experience in the sector. And while it’s true that most university-specific degrees do not demand students have a bachelor’s degree, some do, as well as work experience.

For these reasons it’s important to find out everything you can about a master’s course and it’s admissions criteria before you apply.

Content of the master’s

An official master’s degree is taught by a university and it will further the undergraduate studies you already completed at university and allow you to specialize in more specific aspects of the subject. The course content tends to be theoretical and scientific as students often take these master’s degrees in order to go on to study for a doctorate or pursue a research career.

University-specific courses tend to be more practical, designed to help students get a job after they finish their studies. There are many types of people studying these degrees, but they include those in work who want to continue learning about their sector or specialize to gain a competitive edge.

These university-specific programmes are taught by doctors and professors who have knowledge and training relevant to the master’s-specific course content. These university-specific master’s never grant subsequent access to PhD programmes.

Which of these master’s degrees should I choose?

The choice of master’s degree depends on what you want to get from the course and your post-course goals.

Each course opens different post-study pathways to students. This is why it’s important to decide what your long-term plans are when you are finishing your bachelor’s degree. As we’ve already explained, if you want to go on to access a PhD programme or start research, you will need to take an official master’s. On the other hand, if you want to further your studies and prepare yourself for a swift and successful transition into the world of work, a university-specific master’s may be for you.

At micampus residencias we hope that this article has helped answer any questions you may have had about these two options and it’s now clearer which one is right for you.

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