Monthly Archives: May 2015

Spain: Understanding and Evaluating the Titulo Propio

Titulo de Propio vs. Titulo Oficial

May 28th, 2015


Recently, I have been privy to questions concerning how to evaluate and recognize the university degree titles of titulos propios and titulos oficiales from Spain. These titles are regarded as two different degrees by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte)/MEC of Spain inviting a closer look into understanding the differences between them.

This blog provides information on the titulo proprios and titulo oficiales to help U.S. admissions officers and credential evaluators differentiate between the two in the evaluation and admissions decision making process.

Historical Background

• In 1983, the Law of University Reform (Ley de Reforma Universitaria/LRU) enabled universities in Spain to offer and award their own degree programs, known as Titulos propios and gave universities greater autonomy in budgetary decision-making and curriculum development. (
• Under the LRU, universities can continue offering degree programs officially recognized as titulos oficiales by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte)/MEC.
• The 1983 LRU also allowed for private universities to be established in Spain.
• In the 1983 LRU the MEC specified that universities offering titulos propios degrees must use terminology in the titles that clearly identifies it as a “propio” to avoid any confusion or overlap with official degree titles established and recognized by the government.
• Universities in Spain offer students who wish to complete their studies at the graduate level toward the Master’s degree the choice of either pursuing Máster/Master Oficial de Postgrado or the Máster Titulo Propio.


Titulo Propio

• The translation of the word “propio” means own, as in mine, and not yours.
• A título propio is a credential awarded on completion of curriculum set by the institution and awarded by the institution.
• The most common título propio qualification is Máster / Master; additional qualifications include Especialista / Specialist, Experto / Expert, Diploma, Técnico / Technician, and Graduado / Graduate.
Título propio programs represent a minimum of 20 credits.
Títulos propios are awarded by the rector of the individual university, rather than by the MEC.

Sample: Titulo Propio Máster awarded by Universidad de León

Sample: Titulo Propio / Titulo de Máster awarded by Universidad de Alcalá

Titulo Oficial
• The titulo oficial is awarded and recognized by the MEC on completion of prescribed studies at a university in accordance with Ministry-approved curriculum.
• Typically, a titulo official will include on the degree the name of King Felipe VI of Spain, the name of the Rector and identify the degree as such. See samples below:

Sample: Titulo Oficial awarded by the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja

Sample: Titulo Oficial Máster awarded by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid


Titulo Propios

Máster Titulo Propio 50 credits
Experto Universitario 25 credits
Expecialista Universitario 21 credits

Admission Requirements

• According to information on the MEC website, entrance to either the Titulo Propios or Titulo Oficiales programs requires the título de Graduado or título de Arquitecto, Ingeniero, Licenciado, Arquitecto Técnico, Diplomado, Ingeniero Técnico or Maestro from the first cycle of university studies. [Note: Students from the USA must have the Bachelor’s degree and those from Canada must have the Bachelor’s Honours degree for admission.] However, universities offering titulo propio programs are free to set their own admission requirements and can accept students who may not have completed the entire first cycle of university studies.

Purpose and Post-graduation Opportunities

Titulos propios

Titulos propios are not considered part of the formal higher education structure as they do not have academic recognition of the MEC.
Titulos propros do not provide access to government-mandated positions of employment
Titulos propios may be accepted as equal to the official titles for employment purposes in the private sector.

Titulos Oficiales

• Considered part of the formal higher education structure and provide access to doctoral level studies at universities in Spain and within the European Union.
• Accepted for government-mandated positions of employment as well as employment in the private sector.

Evaluation Guidelines

Given that the titulos propios do not have MEC recognition, may have variable admission criteria depending on individual institutional policies, and do not provide access to doctoral degree programs, my advice is to recognize the studies for credit equivalence but not a U.S. Master’s degree. When evaluating these degrees, request the following from the student/candidate: proof of degree from previous studies to help establish the criteria on which the individual was admitted to the titulo propio program and official transcripts from the university showing the courses studied, final grades and most importantly the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) units for each course. The ECTS will help with determining and awarding transfer credit.

Personal observation: It appears that the titulos propios programs attract international students while Spaniards pursue the titulos oficiales degree programs as the titulos propios do not provide access to doctoral degree programs and are not accepted for employment in the civil service jobs in Spain.

Helpful links:

• Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports
• University of Barcelona (offering a definition of the titulos propios and titulos oficiales programs): University of Barcelona:
• Report by three universities in Spain on Titulos Propios versus Titulos Oficiales (issued in Spanish)


Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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50+ Interesting Facts on Sweden

May 21st, 2015


ACEI recently offered a training webinar on Sweden and it’s education system, with particular focus on upper secondary (high school) education. We thought in this week’s blog we share with you a few interesting facts we gathered in our research on Sweden.

Geography & Population

• Population is 9.7 million people.
• Capital of Sweden is Stockholm (built on 14 islands).
• The official language is Swedish.
• 3rd largest EU country in land area, after France and Spain.


• Sweden is one of the homelands of the Germanic ethnicity and culture.
• Around 2,000 years ago, the Svear people gave Sweden its name. In their language, svear meant “us” and rike meant “kingdom.” So, Sverige, the modern Swedish name of the country, means “Our Kingdom.
• In the 9th and 10th centuries, Swedish Vikings invaded and settled in parts of Eastern Europe as far as Constantinople and the Caspian Sea.
• In 1954, while excavating a Viking settlement in Sweden, archeologists found a Buddha statue from India.

Image: Rosenbad in Stockholm, seat of the Government since 1981

• Parliamentary democracy.
• Sweden’s head of state since 1973 has been King Carl XVI Gustaf.
• Sweden is a member of the European Union, but has its own currency, the krona, or Swedis crown.
• In 1862, Sweden became the first country to grant suffrage for (married) women, although only for local elections.
• With 47% of female parliamentarians (in 2006), Sweden has the highest proportion of women lawmakers in the world.

Economics & Employment

• Sweden has the highest standard V.A.T. rate in the world (25%).
• Total taxation in Sweden amount to 54.2 % of GDP, the highest level worldwide.
• In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sweden was ranked third in the world for the inequality-adjusted Human Development Index(HDI) defined by the United Nations Development Program.
• Swedish people have the lowest income inequality in the world, with a Gini index of 23 in 2005.
• Sweden has the smallest gender employment-rate gap in the developed world, with only 4% more men in employment than women.
• Sweden has the highest percentage of working mothers in the developed world, no less than 76% of them.

Society, Social Justice and Welfare

Lagom is an important and often-used word in Sweden. Meaning good enough, or just right, it sums up Swedish cultural and social ideals of equality and fairness.
• Homosexual relations have been legal since 1944, and same sex couples have been able to adopt since 2003 and get married since 2009.
• The country was the first in the world with freedom of the press (1766), and is at the top of global press freedom rankings.
• Secular and open to all religions. The national church, the Church of Sweden, is Lutheran, but Catholicism and other Christian denominations are also
• In 2006 Swedish people had the longest life expectancy in Europe (80.51 years).
• A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked Sweden as the best country in terms of children’s material well-being, health and safety, and behaviors and risks.
• Sweden is the only nation where donations exceed 1% of the GDP.
• The Swedish maternity and paternity leave is one of the longest and most generous in the world, allowing the father and mother to take a shared total of 480 days (16 months) off at 77.6% of their salary.

Science & Innovations

• The astronomical lens is a Swedish invention.
• The pacemaker, ultrasound, safety match, astronomical lens, marine propeller, refrigerator, and computer mouse are all famous items that were invented in Sweden or by Swedes who weren’t living in Sweden.
• As of late 2012, Sweden had obtained 30 Nobel prizes, including 5 Peace prizes. This is the 5th highest number of laureates in the world, and the highest per capita ratio for any country with over 1 million inhabitants.
• Sweden has the highest number of patents granted per capita of any European country, with 271 patents per million people.
• Sweden ranks second in Europe (after Finland) in terms of technological achievement.
• In 2012 the Swedish company Ericsson was the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile telecommunications networks, with 38% of global market share.
• Sweden has an excellent reputation as a car-maker with Volvo and Saab. Scania trucks are also Swedish.
• The world-famous discount furniture chain IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943.

Environment & Energy Self Sufficiency

• Sweden is set to become the first country in the world to phase out petroleum for biofuel.
• Sweden has the highest number of nuclear plants per capita, with 10 reactors for 9 million inhabitants.
• Only one per cent of solid waste goes to landfill in Sweden – with the rest recycled or used to produce heat, electricity or vehicle fuel in the form of biogas.
• Sweden is so efficient in recycling that it has run out of trash and receives Norway’s trash to process and recycle.

Education Governance

• The Ministry of Education (Utbildningsdepartementet) is responsible for primary and secondary education as well as higher education with a few exceptions (agriculture, in particular).
• The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is responsible for policy implementation and quality control concerning primary, secondary and adult education.
• The Swedish Council for Higher Education (Uiversitets- och Hogskoleradet) and the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslerambetet) are responsible for higher education.

Education: Compulsory and Upper Secondary

• Nursery school (kindergarten, förskola) is open to children from one to five years of age. Almost all children also attend non-compulsory primary school at the age of six (sexårsverksamhet). In practice, this means ten years of education in all.
• Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16 and free.
• Education at the upper secondary level is free.
• The academic year runs from August until June.
• There are also a small number of schools for the Saami minorities in the north of Sweden were classes are taught in Sammi
• The 12-year elementary and secondary system is divided into 2 phases: primary education (Grundskola – 9 years of compulsory school covering primary education and junior secondary education); senior secondary education (Gymnasia – 3 years of senior secondary school).
• Students who complete the Grundskola receive the Slutbetyg Från Grundskola (School Leaving Certificate).
• Student who complete the Gymnasia receive the Slutbetyg Från Gymnasieskola.
• Also at the upper secondary level there are Folkhögskola (Folk High School) and Komvux (Municipal Adult School) which are for Adults (with some previous education & work experience and do not charge tuition.
• Corporal punishment in schools was banned in 1979.

Education: University
Image: Uppsala University

• Sweden has two main types of higher education institutions: universities (universitet) and university colleges (högskola). Both grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but only universities grant doctoral degrees.
• Sweden has around 50 public and private universities and university colleges.
• Two of the oldest universities in Sweden are Uppsala University which was founded in 1477 and Lund University founded in 1666.
• The Swedes spend the longest time in tertiary education with an average student age of 25.5 years old.
• Swedish university students are required to pay a membership fee in the student union, but do not pay tuition.
• 40% of Swedish women and 32% of Swedish men aged 25 to 64 participate in education or training.
• Sweden has the highest proportion of personal computers per capita in Europe, with 500 P.C.’s per 1,000 people.

Bonus Fun Facts:

• There’s a golf course on the border of Sweden and Finland with half the holes in one country and the other half in another.
• Sweden has the highest number of McDonald restaurants per capita in Europe (although that is only about half of the US ratio).
• Swedish was made the official language of Sweden in 2009.
• In the interest of safety, Sweden’s auto company, Volvo, made the three-point seat belt design patent open and free to other car manufacturers.
• In Sweden, you cannot name your child Ikea or Elvis.
• The official Twitter account @Sweden is given to a random citizen every week to manage.
• The origin of the word Smörɡåsbord is Swedish which according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “a luncheon or supper buffet offering a variety of foods and dishes (as hors d’oeuvres, hot and cold meats, smoked and pickled fish, cheeses, salads, and relishes).”

For more random facts on Sweden click on this link:

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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13 Facts about the Bologna Process

May 14th, 2015

The 2015 Ministerial Conference and Fourth Bologna Policy Forum recently took place in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 14 and 15, 2015. Here are some facts about the Bologna Process that highlight the progress it has made to date and problems and challenges to overcome.

Bologna Process Defined

1. The Bologna Process is named after the Bologna Declaration, which was signed in Bologna, Italy on June 19, 1999 by ministers in charge of higher education from 29 European cities.

2. The Bologna Process is a European reform process aiming at establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010

3. Today, the Bologna Process unites 47 countries which are all part to the European Cultural Convention.

4. The Bologna Process also involved European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO-CEPES, as well as representatives of higher education institutions, staff, students, and employers and several organizations involved in quality assurance. For a list of countries and organizations participating in the Bologna Process, please click on this link:

5. The main mission of the Bologna process is to facilitate student mobility and academic exchange amongst participating countries by offering comparable degrees organized in the bachelor, master and doctorate model of higher education.

6. The European credit transfer and accumulation system, known as ECTS, is part of the Bologna process of the three-cycle degree structure in its effort to make mobility and recognition of studies easier.

Challenges and Problems

7. Disparities exist both within and between countries and regions that have adopted the Bologna Process. Not all countries are moving in the same direction at the same pace.

8. The three degree model is not always used in a coherent way, especially in fields such as medicine, teacher training or law.

9. There is a lack of consistency in how ECTS credits are used especially in master’s degree programs where designating credits for student-centered learning remains unclear.

10. Students continue to face problems of having their degrees recognized by other countries that have adopted the Bologna process. According to Tibor Navaracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, “…by 2020, 20% of students will be mobile during their studies. Problems of recognition of foreign degrees persist: students (almost one in 10, according to one Bologna report) find they cannot continue their studies from bachelor degree in one country to masters in another, despite the – on paper, at least – comparable degree structure throughout the European Higher Education Area.”

11. The degrees appear to not be providing graduates the skills needed to prepare them for future careers.

12. Higher education in some of the countries is still not easily accessible for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

13. Not all countries have embraced digital technologies and their potential in transforming learning and teaching techniques.

Given the significant progress made and the problems observed, it would be interesting to see how the recent Ministerial Conference in Yerevan plans to resolve these challenges. What goals and reforms will be decided on to help give the Bologna Process the boost it needs to move forward and remedy the shortcomings witnessed in the past 20 years?

Helpful Links:


Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Guide to Choosing a College/University Major in the U.S.

May 7th, 2015

“A major is a specific subject area that students specialize in. Typically, between one-third and one-half of the courses you’ll take in college will be in your major or related to it.” (The College Board)

Applying to a U.S. college to pursue your undergraduate studies is daunting, not to mention waiting for the acceptance and the dreaded rejection letters. Once you have received your acceptance and headed to your desired institution, you face another challenge, that of choosing a college major, unless you’re one of the rare few who has known all along what he/she wants to major in.

The Challenge


Choosing a college major for majority of undergraduate students can be overwhelming. Schools don’t make it any easier for students either. There are hundreds of majors to choose from and you want to make the right decision that will serve you well into you adult life, one that will help you on your career path and or graduate study. Naturally, it is a big commitment, but it’s not a life sentence and many college graduates end up in careers that had no direct relation to their majors or end up changing careers over the years. Point is that you want to select a major you will enjoy as you will be spending a great deal of time studying whatever subject you select.

The Homework


You can get started by doing a little homework of your own. At some U.S. colleges, you can major in two fields, have both a major and a minor (a specialization that requires fewer courses than a major) and even have the freedom to create your own major.

Ask yourself these questions as you ponder over selecting the right major for you:


• What type of career or careers can you see yourself in?
• What type of work do you enjoy doing?
• What type of work environment do you see yourself in for a long time?
• If you had a part-time job when you were in high school or worked before starting college, what did you learn about your past work experience? What did you like and dislike?
• If you completed a career assessment in high school, what did your results indicate?

Hobbies & Interests

• What are your interests?
• Which subjects did you enjoy studying the most in high school?
• What type of skills do you have?
• Do you have any hobbies that you would like to pursue as a career?

Loyola University of Chicago has a quiz you can take to help you narrow down your choices or at least help you see what your options are in picking a college major. If you want to give their quiz a try, here’s the link to their site:

The Exploration and Discovery


While being undecided is fine, it’s good to have some idea of what you want to do or at least have a few ideas on majors you can explore and choose from once you start college. Typically, most US colleges allow you to go around undecided through your freshman (first) year but by the end of your sophomore (second) year, they do expect you to choose a major before you can continue onto your junior (third) year of studies. Though this will not be the case for some majors such as engineering, which require you to commit to taking the prerequisite courses earlier.

Again, remember you can be undecided in your first year which gives you the opportunity to explore a variety of courses. So, take a class or two in disciplines that interest you. This will help you get a better understanding of the field and if it is what you want to continue studying for the career of your dreams.

College is a huge investment, especially in the U.S., and choosing a major that will prepare you for a specific career is important. Check out for up-to-date information on their College ROI reports. Majors that lead to the highest salaries include any engineering specialty, computer science, economics, actuarial mathematics, physics, and economics.

Don’t write off liberal arts courses just because you may think all the jobs are for engineers and computer scientists and nothing for philosophy or English majors. Employers are looking for and value individuals who have critical thinking skills and writing abilities and these are exactly the qualities liberal arts majors provide. Though selecting a major that guarantees employment and a salary commensurate with your talents and education is important, you do need to keep in mind your quality of life; ultimately you want to be doing what makes you happy and not be trapped in a high paying job that makes you miserable.

Finally, once in college, don’t hesitate to talk to professors, department heads, peer advisors, and other students and ask for their help. If you can, find an internship off campus. Continue exploring your interests in your first and second years, complete the required general education courses and you may just find the major that best fits your interests and even your ideal career.

Helpful links:

Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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