An academic degree is a college or university diploma, often associated with a title and sometimes associated with an academic position, which is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree. The most common degrees awarded today are associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Most higher education institutions generally offer certificates and several programs leading to the obtainment of a Master of Advanced Studies, which is predominantly known as a Diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées under its original French name.
An academic term or term is a portion of an academic year, the time during which an educational institution holds classes. The schedules adopted vary widely.
In most countries, the academic year begins in late summer or early autumn and ends during the following spring or summer. In Northern Hemisphere countries, this means that the academic year lasts from August, September or October to May, June or July. In Southern Hemisphere countries, the academic year aligns with the calendar year, lasting from February or March to November or December. The summer may or may not be part of the term system.
A course credit (often credit hour, or just credit or "unit") is a unit that gives weighting to the value, level or time requirements of an academic course taken at a school or other educational institution.
In high schools, where all courses are usually the same number of hours, often meeting every day, students earn one credit for a course that lasts all year, or a half credit per course per semester. This credit is formally known as a Carnegie Unit. After a typical four-year run, the student needs 24 to 28 credits to graduate (an average of 6 to 7 at any time). Some high schools have only three years of school because 9th grade is part of their middle schools, with 18 to 21 credits required.
In the United States, community colleges (once commonly called junior colleges) are primarily two-year public institutions of higher education. After graduating from a community college, some students transfer to a university or liberal arts college for two to three years to complete a bachelor's degree, while others enter the workforce.
The Bologna Process is a series of ministerial meetings and agreements between European countries designed to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher education qualifications. Through the Bologna Accords, the process has created the European Higher Education Area, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It is named after the place it was proposed, the University of Bologna, with the signing of the Bologna declaration by Education Ministers from 29 European countries in 1999, in the spirit of European integration which was en vogue at the time (and which also resulted in the introduction of the Euro at about the same time).
It was opened up to other countries signatory to the European Cultural convention, of the Council of Europe; further governmental meetings have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), and Leuven (2009).
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