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Higher Education Qualifications in Iceland

The higher education institutions in Iceland offer undergraduate and postgraduate studies in a wide range of fields. 
The higher education qualifications in Iceland are: 

Diploma (Diploma/Grunndiploma)

The diploma programmes are professional-oriented. This qualification is provided by Holar University College, the University of Iceland and Iceland Academic of the Arts.
  • Duration: 1 -2 years 
The diploma in Iceland is offered in the following subjects:
  • Languages
  • Business
  • Pedagogy

Undergraduate Degree: First University Degree

Bachelor Degree (Baccalaureus)

Bachelor’s degree is awarded in particular disciplines. It involves general and specific study. 
  • Duration: 3-4 years
  • Credits: 180-240 
  • Titles:  Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.): This degree is awarded to pupils who have completed 3 to 4 years of study in the areas of visual arts and design, theology, humanities, and social sciences. This degree requires completion of a dissertation or research project.  

Bachelor of Science (B.S.): This degree is awarded to pupils who have finished 3 to 4 years of study in the areas of engineering, economics,  health sciences, computer science, business administration, agricultural sciences, natural sciences,or fishery studies. This qualification requires a completion of a research project or a final dissertation.

Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.): This degree is conferred to pupils who have completed studies for preschool teachers, compulsory/basic school teachers and in developmental therapy. It is a professional teacher certification at the various school levels.
  • Duration: 3 years
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA): This degree is awarded to pupils in the field of drama
  • Duration: 4 years
Bachelor of Music (BMus): This degree is awarded to pupils in the field of music.
  • Duration: 3 years 
BPhIsl degree (Baccalaureatus Philologiae Islandicae): This degree is awarded to international students in the field of Icelandic history, language and literature; and is offered by the University of Iceland. 
  • Duration: 3-4 years

Candidatus Degree (kandidatsgraea)

This degree prepares students for a specific profession. It is an academic- professional qualification that is offered only at the University of Iceland in the following areas: Engineering, medicine, law, dentistry, economics, pharmacy, theology, and business administration. 
  • Duration: 4-6 years
For management studies and engineering, the duration of this degree is 4 years; for pharmacy, law and theology, it is 5 years; and for medicine and dentistry, it lasts for 6 years. 

Postgraduate Certificate

This certificate is awarded in a specific field.
  • Duration: 1 year

Postgraduate Degrees

Masters Degree (Meistaragraea)

The academic master's studies are provided in several fields, such as journalism, education, arts, law, sciences, social work, etc.  This degree expands the knowledge and skills from your undergraduate qualification in a more specialised area. Students at this level are evaluated by examinations, thesis and coursework. 
Some of the higher education institutions provide master’s programme of shorter duration, i.e. 1 to 2 semesters. These programmes hold 30-60 ECTS. 
  • Duration: 1-2 years
  •  Titles: Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Law (M.L.), Master of Arts (M.A.), and Master of Education (M.Ed.), MPA, MPaed.
  • Credits: 90-120
Master of Science (MS): This degree is awarded in the fields of engineering, medicine, economics, natural sciences, and business administration. This degree programme is offered at the University of Iceland, and requires a successful completion of a research project or master’s thesis. 
  • Duration: 2 years
Master of Arts (MA): This degree is awarded in the fields of social sciences and humanities at the University of Iceland. This qualification requires a successful completion of a research project or master’s thesis. 
  • Duration: 2 years
Master of Education (MEd): This degree is awarded at the University College of Education, and requires a successful completion of a research project or master’s thesis.
  • Duration: 2 years

Doctorate Degree

Candidates must hold a Candidatus or master's degree in order to take admittance into the doctorate programme. Doctoral degree courses are provided the Agricultural University of Iceland, the University of Iceland, the University of Reykjavik, and the University of Akureyri. At this degree level, candidates are required to defend a doctorate thesis and complete the coursework. 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D. - Doktorsprof) 

PhD degrees are conferred to students who have successfully completed a doctorate degree programme and have defended his/her doctoral dissertation.

Awarded by: Agricultural University of Iceland, the University of Iceland, and Reykjavik University

Types of Doctoral Programmes

There are 2 types of doctoral programmes and they are only offered at the University of Iceland.
First Type: Includes course of study in Icelandic history, language and literature. This course leads to a Dr. phil. degree and is offered by the Faculty of Arts. To gain admittance into this programme, candidate must hold a MA degree (first class) from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Iceland. Pupils who have completed a first class MA degree from another faculty at the University of Iceland or from another university recognized by the Faculty of Arts are also eligible to apply to the doctoral programme; but they are required to pass an entrance examination.

Second type: Based on independent research by a candidate. This doctorate degree is conferred to candidates who have successfully completed a candidatus degree, a master’s degree or the equivalent.
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