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The difference between European and US programs

  1. Jul 14, 2009 #1
    Hi all.

    Is it correct that an undergraduate program corresponds to a European B.Sc., and an graduate program corresponds to a European M.Sc. program? Or am I completely wrong?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Niles.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2009 #2
    You do realise that an "undergrad program" in the states IS a BSc. That's what they grant in america (same as elsewhere)
     
  4. Jul 14, 2009 #3

    Evo

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    No, an M.Sc appears to be a bit above a US BS, with perhaps another year of studies thrown in. It is not equivalent to a PhD.

    In the US a BS is usually the equivalent of four years of college after 4 years of high school. In the US, a MS is a degree level after a BS, usually equivalent to 2 years of additional college.
     
  5. Jul 14, 2009 #4

    Kurdt

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    In the Uk you finish high scool at 16 after taking GCSE qualification exams in a broad range of subjects. You will then do an additional 2 years in 6th form or college with a smaller set of subjects. Then you move onto university where a trypical undergrad BSc is 3 years and a postgrad masters program is typically 1 year. A PhD usually takes 3 to 4 years more. I'm not sure how it works in the rest of Europe.
     
  6. Jul 14, 2009 #5
    US schools offer BSc's and they are roughly equivalent to European BSc's (people doing their undergrads in one country/continent routinely go to the other for grad school without any equivalance problems). US schools offer MSc's and they're roughly equivilant to European Msc's. US schools offer PhD's and they're roughly equivalent to European PhD's. The big differnce is that in Europe and Canada one usually goes from their BSc to their MSc and THEN to their PhD's (which are shorter than american PhD's). In america the convention is to go straight from BSc to PhD and MSc's are generally considered to be their own thing for those who don't want to do a whole PhD but want some grad experience. However, no matter what you have (BSc, MSc, PhD) it's basically the same thing in terms of the equivalent degree in other countries. I mean germany and stuff have docet's but I don't know how common that is.
     
  7. Jul 14, 2009 #6

    Evo

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    I think this is very confusing for US vs UK students. In the US, normally, college starts after you complete high school (grade 12) ~18 years old. In the UK, the last 2 years of high school are called college.

    Are the 2 years of "college" optional? Is the schooling at age 16 in the UK considered the same as a full high school degree in the US? What is the 2 year "college" considered?
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  8. Jul 14, 2009 #7
    I did my undergraduate and masters in Canada and followed what has been said above (4 years, plus 2 for a masters). At least back during this time (early 2000s), one had to do a minimum of 1 year of a masters before entering a PhD program. I recall that only 'exceptional' students could enter directly into a PhD from an undergraduate program. I believe the way it worked was that after one year of a masters degree, a student could choose to do their comprhensive examination. If they passed it, they were admitted into their PhD program (which was obviously an extension of their current masters topic or at least closely related). This was good for students who knew for sure after their undergrad they wanted to do a PhD. In the end it saves a year on their PhD. This is how it worked at my Canadian unversity and Im pretty sure it was similar nation wide. Maybe its a bit different now. Not sure.

    I finished my masters and did my PhD in europe. It was what they call a 'European Union PhD'. It had some certain rules that had to be followed and they applied to all EU countries (the UK excluded possibly but I always get confused in what areas they are 'EU' and what areas they are not). It was 4 years of funding and contained a comprehensive examination around the midpoint and contained a similar course load during the first year that most of my Canadian counterparts were following back in Canada during their PhDs. So insofar as I could tell, this European Union PhD and a PhD in Canada (and hence the US??) were right on pace with each other.

    Where the grey area for me was, was with my colleagues during my PhD. People from France and Spain and the Netherlands and such (all over really)...they all had undergrad degrees of course and it seemed like it was 4 years for some and 5 years for others. I couldnt get it straight. It any case, they had undergrads. Where it got really grey was with this idea of a 'masters' for them. Some considered they had a 'masters' because they went to another university after their undergrad for 6 months and did some project....the length of time they considered a 'masters' seemed to very but it was always short (compared to the 2 years we know in north america) and usually involved some sort of project. To me, it sounded like a vacation after their undergrad where they played in a lab in southern france or southern spain. Thats what I got out of it. Also, some of the people who did a 5 year undergard claimed that they also had masters degrees. I didnt really understand this. In the end I never got it straight and just left it alone. I just felt like europe really liked to throw around this idea of a 'masters' whereas in Canada and the US, we have a fairly rigid idea of what one is.

    So I can say with a fair degree of confidence that a european union PhD and a PhD in Canada and the US are pretty much equivalents (which is why they introduced this idea of a european union PhD to streamline the requirments between EU countries and better compete with North America. Made sense to me).
     
  9. Jul 14, 2009 #8
    A four year undergraduate degree in Germany or England is significantly more rigorous than a four year degree undergraduate degree in the US, at least as far as physics is concerned. The American students make up the difference in graduate school, so by the end of a one or two year masters program they know at least as much as the european students with their bachelor, and by the time the student gets a PhD they will have had the same level of education whether they are in America or Europe.
     
  10. Jul 14, 2009 #9

    mgb_phys

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    Yes education is only compulsory to 16 when you do individual exams in all (typically 8-10) subjects called GCSE - used to be called 'O' (ordinary) levels.
    Then you can get a job or stay at school to do 'A' (advanced) levels. These 2 years are taught either within larger schools, or at the equivalent of community colleges. Traditionally school years were counted from when you went to secondary school at age 11 so these colleges are called 6th form - because they start in the 6th year. UK state schools now use the US k-12 numbering but it's still called a 6th form college.

    Typically you only take 3 subjects, eg maths+physics+chem or maths+further maths+physics. Also in UK ugrad degrees you only study your main subject there are generally no minors or required humanity courses.
    The advantages of this are a much more concentrate education, the drawback is a sheep+goat separation at 16 between an academic path and vocational courses.

    Over the last 10years there have been various schemes to improve the system - the result is that exam marks are higher but they have had to add an extra year to degrees to make up for the fact that 18year olds don't know anything anymore.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
  11. Jul 15, 2009 #10
    In Europe we have much less freedom in college, a bsc here is usually 3 years so a master is ~5 years total. But during those 3 years we study only the subject of our choice and almost nothing else so we usually learn more on the topic during those than you do during your 4.

    But you can shave down the master to something like 4 years too in older variants were you didn't need to do the some of the large projects, but you still have studied enough for a master.

    Also in Europe if you want to study anything related to science you usually are forced to have studied calculus and the later science courses in highschool or you aren't allowed to apply, basically like a person in the US shaving off a lot of courses by taking ap credits.
     
  12. Jul 15, 2009 #11
    Wrong! Or at least too simplified. In the UK "high school" is (usually) just called "school". The last two years of school (up to age 18) are (usually) just two more years of school. In some localities school kids might move to a "sixth form college" or "technical college" for the last two years, but it's more usual just to stay at the same old school.

    The two years between 16 and 18 ("upper and lower sixth form") are optional. After "getting A levels" at 18 pupils go on to university (also confusingly called college!). Schooling at age 16 in the UK is *not* equivalent to a full high school degree (diploma?) in the US. There is no equivalent to a high school degree/diploma. But roughly "Getting your high school diploma" (US) = "passing your A levels" (UK).
     
  13. Jul 15, 2009 #12
    This is an interesting discussion, since it is something I've always wondered about, but more in the sense of how our academic system in South Africa compares to the likes of the US and UK academic systems and looks like at least we seem to be more or less on par with both concerning the amount of years of education...
     
  14. Jul 16, 2009 #13
    Well, the UK is in the European Union but they are kind of an island compared to the rest of Europe (which comes from the fact that the UK is geographically an island). Usage of the imperial system whereas in the rest of Europe the metric system is used, drive on the left side of the road, they don't want to change to the euro currency,... So no wonder the education system is different than in the rest of Europe. I think their education system is closer to the American system than the rest of Europe.
     
  15. Jul 16, 2009 #14

    Kurdt

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    Are you implying that the UK uses imperial measurements? If you are, you're incorrect.
     
  16. Jul 16, 2009 #15

    mgb_phys

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    Legally speed limits and distances must be in miles and yards, but goods except for beer and milk must be sold in metric- except clothes sizes are in inches.
    Petrol (gasoline) is sold in litres but everybody talks miles/gallon.
    Everybody gives their height in feet and their weight in stone (don't ask)
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2009
  17. Jul 16, 2009 #16

    f95toli

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    I know people here in the UK who would be very insulted by that remark.
    And no, I am not even joking; some metrologists take their job (=maintaining and developing the SI) very seriously:cool:
     
  18. Jul 17, 2009 #17
    Ok you are partially right :-).
    So, indeed the UK officially uses a metric system except for some things where the imperial system is still used. Learnt something I didn't know today :-).
     
  19. Jul 17, 2009 #18

    mgb_phys

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    To be fair, it takes a while for people to get used to new things and it's only been 40years. That's the problem with the UK switching to driving on the right - it would take a century or so as more people gradually swapped over.
     
  20. Jul 17, 2009 #19
    Sweden did it in 10 minutes, but they had prepared with new signs and such for a while beforehand.

    Of course that was easier to do then since there weren't as many cars 42 years ago, today all the trucks and such would have a hard time switching lane.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2009
  21. Jul 17, 2009 #20

    mgb_phys

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    That's often used as an example of how the UK is different to the rest of europe.
    Sweden would just have to put a small ad in the back of the newspaper asking everybody to please drive on the right tomorrow.
    Britain would switch over, except that public transport would stay on the left, old people would still drive on the left as would some people who objected to the european union, other people would drive on the right during the week but the left at weekends. This state would continue for about 100years.
     
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