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A Master degree is usually awarded on the completion of postgraduate or graduate studies. Access to this second cycle should require successful completion of first cycle studies, lasting a minimum of three and a maximum of four years. All in all, first and second cycle studies should not last longer than five years. In principle, a Master degree provides access to ↑doctoral studies. However, it is left to the discretion of the higher education institutions which other requirements PhD candidates have to fulfil.[1] In many countries, Master degrees can be obtained at both universities and other higher education institutions. "Programmes leading to a degree will, and indeed should, have different orientations and various profiles in order to accommodate a diversity of individual, academic and labour market needs".[2] The level of qualification that has to be reached with a Master degree is described within the European ↑qualifications framework.[3] According to this framework, a Master degree should be 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, […]; -  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, […]; -  can communicate their conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist 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."[4]
Related terms:
↑Bachelor; ↑Cycles; ↑Descriptors; ↑ECTS – European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System; ↑Mobility; ↑Quality assurance

[1] Cf. Bologna, p. 3; Qualifications, p. 8.

[2] Prague, p. 2.

[3] Cf. Qualifications.

[4] Cf. Qualifications, pp. 67-68.

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