Studying a Master's Degree is currently the best way to complete academic education in order to achieve a specialized and qualified professional profile. Universities worldwide offer this type of training programmes, whose prestige is endorsed by the universities themselves.
In Spain, there are two types of degrees: the Official Degrees and the University Specific Diplomas. In both cases, postgraduate programmes are oriented towards academic and professional specialisation. However, there are differences between them, according to their own characteristics. Today we are going to analyse those peculiarities, so that each candidate can choose the option that suits the goals he or she wants to achieve best. UPM-specific Masters such as MCH, are ruled by the: Normativa de la enseñanzas propias de la UPM, approved on October 25th, 2018.
In Spain, to access an Official Postgraduate Master, it is necessary to hold an official university degree (degree, master or PhD). In the case of an University-specific Master, requirements to access are set by each centre and program. In the case of MCH, candidates are required to hold a Diploma that accredits them as architects in their country.
The standard Postgraduate Master lenght, whether Official or University-specific, must be between 60 and 120 ECTS (600 or 1200 hours). University-specific Degrees usually have similar duration and academic conditions to the ones for Official Masters. This is the case of the MCH, whose programme has also a lenght of 600 hours.
Through an Official Postgraduate Master, students deepen in their theoretical training, and they move towards a greater academic and professional specialization, obtaining a much more specific qualification in a certain field. The contents of these master's degrees are mainly focused in research, with a more technical and scientific character. On the other hand, University-specific Master usually offers courses which cover gaps of the official study plans, being characterized by a more in-depth offer and functional teaching, focused on work practice. They are often taken by active workers willing to increase their training and acquire new job skills, such as the ones enrolling MCH.
However, the prestige of the University where the master is taught, and the own master´s prestige and excellence, will make the biggest difference between the wide offer of University-specific Masters. In the MCH case, different rankings, among them the most prestigious one Spain, made by El Mundo newspaper, considers it the best Master of Architecture in Spain. The classification carried out by this ranking includes both official and university-specific Diplomas.
Both cases, Official Master's and University-specific Degrees offer practical guidance and, sometimes, the possibility of carrying out curricular or extracurricular internships.
The specific requirements to access a PhD programme are decided by the University itself and the department to which it belongs. In some Universities this oppotunity to write a Doctoral Thesis is simple, and in others, due to the programme´s prestige and the number of applicants, it is much more difficult. Official Postgraduate Degrees are normally necessary to join PhD programmes in the Spanish education system, since they help to generate ideas and contents to be later developed during the PhD. Current Spanish regulation, in most cases, does not recognise credits obtained in a University-specific Master as valid to enrol a PhD programme. Therefore, a University-specific Postgraduate Degree, in general, does not provide access to the PhD.
As in the cases of undergraduate degrees or doctorates, the teaching of an Official Postgraduate Masters must be mainly carried out by the professors of the university that issues the Diploma. In general, these Master's degrees do not have a budget for other professors who do not belong to the university itself. Unlike the Official Master, in a University-specific Master faculty is formed by professors from different universities and by practicing professionals. They are responsible for the direct development of the contents to be taught, as they are experts in the specific subjects of the master. In the case of MCH, the percentage of professors who do not belong to UPM exceeds the limit established for official degrees, but this does not mean a decrease in the quality of teaching. Indeed, quite the opposite, we have the best experts in housing, both academically and from the architecture practice. Approximately 50% of MCH hours are taught by international teachers.
An Official Master can be publicly and/or privately financed. The State can subsidize part of the tuition fees and the student makes the rest of the payment. In general, this is a standard tuition fee for the public universities of a certain autonomous community, since in the case of private universities, the tuition fee depends can be freely set by themselves. University-specific masters, such as MCH, are self-financed by the students teaching fees and those fees are always the same for all students, whether local or international.
In Spain there are public aids and scholarships for covering part of the Official Masters tuition fee. University-specific Masters have usually their own finatial aid plans that include scholarships given by the university they belong to. In both cases, EU students and international students from outside the EU, can benefit from these grants. In the case of the MCH, the program itself gives very few scholarships, although it reaches agreements yearly with institutions that offer the scholarships and establish the requirements that applicants must meet.
In general, an Official Master is automatically recognized in all European universities, although it never gives access to the exercise of the profession. However, an University-specific Master is only homologated in national territory. In both cases, the legislation of each State may accredit the recognition of a Spanish master Diploma, supported by the university whom it belongs to.
For such validity purposes, both the official Master's and the University-specific Master have frequently very similar lenght and access requirements, to achieve being fully integrated into the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). In the case of the MCH, in general it is possible to obtain homologation abroad, as avidenced by the previous experiences of several alumni. They have successfully gone through the homologation process in several countries.
Master in Collective Housing is an international postgraduate programme with unique characteristics, since it is an UPM-specific Master, but it is also an ETH Official Master, because University-specific Masters do not exist in Switzerland.
Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) is the term used to name this kind of postgraduate Masters in Europe. UPM and ETH have joined forces to offer the first UPM / ETH Diploma: “Master of Advanced Studies UPM/ETH in Collective Housing”. ETH Zurich, the most prestigious technological university in Europe and perhaps in the world, signed in 2016 an agreement with UPM that officially recognizes MCH as one of its MAS programs, validating this master with the same recognition than existing further postgraduate courses offered at ETH Zurich. This agreement is based on the importance and commitment of MCH with excellence since its foundation in 2006, when it was offered for the first time at UPM, ETSAM Madrid.
This mixed character gives MCH characteristics of both types of Diplomas. The UPM/ETH Diploma: "UPM/ETH Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing" obtained at the end of the Master, has some advantages which deserve to be highlighted:
- MCH has the same recognition of the other existing postgraduate courses at ETH Zurich. (MAS)
- Thanks to an agreement between MCH and the PhD Programme of the ETSAM Department of Architectural Projects, it allows access to their PhD programme at ETSAM, although it is a University-specific degree at UPM.