On 21 January 2005, The Royal Decree regulating official postgraduate studies (master's degrees and doctorates) was approved, to adapt the structure of Spanish university studies to the European Higher Education Area, in accordance with the Bologna Declaration of 1999 and other complementary declarations.

The aim of the new structure of university studies is to harmonize the duration, learning methods and assessment of the academic activities in European universities to facilitate the mobility of students and their professional integration in the European job market.

What is a master's degree?

Master's degree programmes include advanced studies of a specialized or multidisciplinary nature, the purpose of which is either academic or professional specialization or the initiation of research activities. Master's degree programmes vary in length from 60 ECTS* credits (one academic year of full-time study) to 120 ECTS credits (two academic years of full-time study), on completion of which an official master's degree qualification is obtained. 

Depending on the orientation, there are three different types of master's degree:

  • Professional, aimed at preparing for professional practice.
  • Research, aimed at preparing for research activity.
  • Academic, combined qualifications aimed at both preparing for professional practice and for research.

The master's degrees are the new ordinary route of access to doctoral studies. Graduates with a master's degree - normally a degree that is research-focused- may have access to a doctorate, which involves writing and presenting a doctoral thesis, as an original piece of research work.

The contents and names of the master's degree are decided by the Universities, after obtaining a favourable report from the Autonomous Community and the University Coordination Council.

*ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer System and is the standard adopted by all the universities in the EHEA to guarantee the uniformity and quality of the studies they offer. An ECTS credit takes into consideration, in addition to class hours, all the student's activities in the learning process (hours of study and preparation of papers and practical assignments).

How much do University master's degrees cost?

Article 117.3 of Act 1/2003, of 19 February, of Universities of Catalonia, establishes that the Catalan Government is responsible for approving public prices for education leading to the award of official university qualifications.

Every year, the Decree setting out the prices of academic services of public universities of Catalonia establishes the prices of master's degree programmes at the public universities of Catalonia. The price of the ECTS master's degrees at the UPF for the 2011-2012 academic year varies generally from 31.42 to 45 euros, depending on the extent of the experimental nature of the master's degree.

The universities may establish a different price per credit for foreign students who are not citizens or residents of European Union member states, provided that the final price is not more than four times the prices established in the Decree.