What is a university degree?

14 Mar 2024

When we ask ourselves what a university degree is, we immerse ourselves in the field of superior education, where academic and professional paths are projected. Answering this question and understanding the different aspects linked to the concept “university degree” is essential for those who want to continue their studies. But what is a university degree equivalent to? In essence, a university degree represents a significant educational milestone that opens the doors to the professional world. For this reason, before deciding which university degree you will study, you must take into account a few key aspects. From the official nature of the degree to its credit structure and international relevance.

What is an official university degree?

An official university degree is the result of successfully completing an academic program at a recognized institution of higher education. This degree certifies that the student has acquired the necessary knowledge and skills in a particular discipline. However, official university degree programs not only focus on transmitting theoretical knowledge but also encourage the development of practical skills and critical thinking. The official status of a university degree implies that the curriculum follows guidelines and standards set by the relevant educational authorities, ensuring the quality and consistency of higher education and providing a structured framework for the delivery of content and the assessment of academic progress.

What is needed to study a university degree?

To access a university degree program, certain requirements must be met. In general terms, a high school diploma, also known as Bachillerato in the Spanish educational system, is required. In addition to Bachillerato, it is common that, in order to study for a university degree in Spain, universities require students to have passed a university entrance exam known as Selectividad or EvAU. This evaluation seeks to measure the student’s aptitude and academic preparation in specific areas such as language and literature, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics.

The cut-off marks, another crucial element for this process, are established according to the number of places available and the demand of students who want to study for a certain university degree. In some cases, depending on the program of study, universities may require additional tests, such as personal interviews, presentation of portfolios, or specific exams related to the chosen discipline. These specific requirements vary depending on the university and the nature of the university degree.

How many credits does a university degree have?

The duration of a university degree is measured by academic credits, which represent the total amount of work the student has. In general, a complete degree counts with 240 credits, distributed throughout four years in different semesters. Completing a semester successfully implies obtaining a certain number of credits. Through this system, it is ensured that students have fully and thoroughly addressed the content of their academic program.

Each course is assigned a certain number of credits, which reflects the amount of time and effort students are expected to dedicate to study and class participation. For example, a course in the curriculum may be equivalent to 6 or 9 credits, depending on its complexity and the workload involved. Thus, a student typically takes between 30 and 60 credits per academic year. In addition, in many academic programs, it is established that one credit is equivalent to approximately 25 to 30 hours of student work, which includes time dedicated to classes, independent study, projects, research, and evaluations. This estimate is aligned with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), used in a large part of Europe, including Spain.


What is a university degree equivalent to?

In the professional world, a university degree not only reflects the specialisation and competencies acquired in a field of study, but also represents the attainment of transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and the capacity to research and work collaboratively. These abilities are highly valued in the market, which turns the holder of a university degree into an active in the competitive job market.

Internationally, it is also important to consider what a university degree is equivalent to, as there can be differences between countries. The university degree obtained in Spain is generally equivalent to similar degrees in other European countries. However, there are specific equivalencies that may vary by country and institution. Some countries, especially outside Europe, may have higher education systems with different structures and denominations. In these cases, university graduates may use degree evaluation and recognition services to facilitate the understanding and acceptance of their qualifications in international contexts.

What is a double university degree?

The concept of the double university degree has gained popularity in recent years. Unlike studying a single degree, a double degree involves studying simultaneously or successively two university degrees in associated or complementary fields. This academic path tends to be more demanding in terms of workload and dedication. However, this approach allows students to diversify their knowledge and skills, offering them more versatile training and giving them a competitive advantage in the job market, where the ability to apply knowledge from various disciplines is increasingly valued.

In this sense, Elisava has the Simultaneous Studies Program, which offers the possibility of obtaining both Elisava’s undergraduate degrees in a period of six years. Thus, students can begin their studies in either of the two degrees (Degree in Design and Innovation or Degree in Industrial Design Engineering) and, from the third year, simultaneously take subjects of the other degree, combining both studies. This program forms a space of interaction between creativity and technology in which the competencies of the humanities, arts, and sciences complement each other and provide feedback.

Types of university degrees

University degrees in Spain are organized into different branches of knowledge, and each branch includes different disciplines and areas of study. The structure of the university system in Spain is regulated by Royal Decree 1393/2007, which establishes the organization of official university education.

The main branches of knowledge and some representative disciplines of the different types of university degrees are: Arts and Humanities (Philosophy, History, Fine Arts, Spanish Language and Literature, Archaeology, Translation and Interpretation); Social and Legal Sciences (Law, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Social Work, Business Administration and Management – ADE); Health Sciences (Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Psychology); Experimental Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Environmental Sciences); Engineering and Architecture (Computer Engineering, Civil Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Architecture, Electronic Engineering); Physical Activity and Sports Sciences (Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, Physical Education); Sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology); Communication (Journalism, Audiovisual Communication, Advertising and Public Relations); Education (Primary Education, Early Childhood Education, Pedagogy) and Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences (Agricultural Engineering, Veterinary Science, Food Science and Technology).

In the branch of knowledge of Arts and Humanities, we find the Degree in Design and Innovation of Elisava, which has essential areas for design such as anthropology, philosophy, or history, among others. This university degree seeks to train designers with a creative profile and critical thinking, able to question and dialogue with other people in the social, productive, scientific, or cultural environment, and create or improve products, services, communications, environments, or experiences.

On the other hand, in the branch of knowledge of Engineering and Architecture, there is the Degree in Industrial Design Engineering, a university degree that trains engineers in design and product development with a highly qualified transdisciplinary profile to design and develop products, systems, and services that add value to the industry, society, and the environment, integrating new technological advances.