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Qualifications Frameworks in the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA) are frameworks describing the higher education qualifications of countries participating in the Bologna Process. National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) provide a mapping between higher education qualifications and an overarching framework, allowing the cross-comparison of qualifications from different countries.[1]

The overarching framework was adopted in May 2005 at a meeting of education ministers of the 48 participating countries. It consists of three cycles, approximately equivalent to bachelor's, master's and research doctorates (PhD-equivalent) degrees in the Anglophone world (note that US first professional degrees such as MD and JD are not PhD-equivalent, even though they are titled "doctorates"). A "short cycle" is also recognised within the first cycle, equivalent to British foundation degrees (US associate degrees).[2][3][4][5]

QF-EHEA in Spain[edit]

The NQF in Spain is the Marco Español de Cualificaciones para la Educación Superior (MECES) (Spanish Framework for Higher Education Qualification).[6] This replaced the earlier system of diplomado, licenciado and doctor from 2005, with a transitional period lasting until 2013.[7] The mapping to the EHEA framework is:

MECES level Qualifications Equivalent EHEA cycle
  • Título de Doctor
Third Cycle
  • Título de Grado universitario con 300 ECTS o más
  • Título de Máster universitario
  • Título de Máster en Enseñanzas Artísticas
Second Cycle
  • Título de Graduado
  • Título de Graduado de las enseñanzas artísticas superiores
First Cycle
  • Técnico Superior de Formación Profesional
  • Técnico Superior de Artes Plásticas y Diseño
  • Técnico Deportivo Superior
Short Cycle

QF-EHEA in the United Kingdom[edit]

The NQFs linked to the QF-EHEA are the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland (FQHEIS). The FQHEIS was certified as being aligned with the QF-EHEA in 2006 and the FHEQ in 2008.[8]

The levels on the two national frameworks, and their mapping to the QF-EHEA, are as follows:

FHEQ level FQHEIS level Qualifications Equivalent EHEA cycle
8 12 Third Cycle
7 11
  • Master's degree
  • Integrated master's degree
  • Primary qualifications (first degrees) in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science
Second Cycle
6 10 First Cycle
  • Bachelor's degree (ordinary or pass degree)
5 N/A Short Cycle
  • HND (awarded by a degree-awarding body)
4 N/A
  • Higher National Certificate (awarded by a degree-awarding body)

QF-EHEA in the Republic of Ireland[edit]

The NFQ for Ireland is the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), which spans the full range of educational qualifications available. It was verified as compatible with the EHEA Framework in 2006.[9] The NQF has the following mapping to the EHEA Framework:[10]

NFQ level Qualifications Equivalent EHEA cycle
10 Third Cycle
9 Second Cycle
  • Postgraduate diploma
Second Cycle (Intermediate qualification)
8 First Cycle
  • Ordinary bachelor's degree
  • Higher Certificate
Short Cycle


  1. ^ "Qualifications Frameworks in the EHEA". EHEA. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  2. ^ "ECTS Users' Guide". European Commission. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Overarching framework of qualifications of the EHEA" (PDF). EHEA.
  4. ^ "Structure of U.S. Education". US Department of Education. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  5. ^ "European Higher Education Area and Bologna Process". British Council. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  6. ^ Normativa oficial del estado español sobre el MECES
  7. ^ "HE in Spain" (PDF). Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  8. ^ "The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies" (PDF). November 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-05-29.
  9. ^ "Verification of Compatibility of Irish National Framework of Qualifications with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area" (PDF). Quality and Qualifications Ireland. November 2006. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  10. ^ "QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORKS - A EUROPEAN VIEW". Quality and Qualifications Ireland. Retrieved 29 May 2016.