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[lahy-sen-shee-it, -eyt]
Licentiate (from Latin licentia docendi = permission/right to teach) is the title of a person who holds an academic degree called a license. This degree exists in various African, Asian, European and Latin American countries but can represent different educational levels. The term may also derive from the Latin licentia ad practicandum, which signified someone who held a certificate of competence to practise a profession. Such licences might be awarded by non-academic bodies also.

Regional variations


In Argentina, the Licentiate degree (Castilian: Licenciatura) is a 4-5 year degree (6 years in some cases under the accomplishment of the licentia doctorandi thesis dissertation), generally equivalent to an M.Sc. or M.A. in North American universities. In some cases it does not require the formal writing of a thesis, although almost invariably a quota of research is required.


Currently the only institution in Australia to grant licentiates - apart from theological colleges (see below) - is the Australian Music Examinations Board, which confers licentiate diplomas including the Licentiate in Music, Australia (LMusA).


In Belgian universities, a person titled Licentiate (or Licentiaat in Dutch or Licencié in French) holds the equivalent education of a master's degree. Students used to receive a license after 4 or 5 years of successful study. The first two years were known as kandidatuur (candidacy), meaning students were qualifying themselves for study at the licential level. This candidate-licentiate system is now being replaced by an American-style bachelor-master system. The Belgian licentiate was also equivalent to the doctorandus in the Netherlands. Study is very rigorous. Students in Belgian universities usually take more than 30 hours a week (as opposed to an average of 15 at American universities.) Thus, students are able to complete their (licentiate or master's) degrees in four or five years, as opposed to the usual six at American institutions.


In Bolivia, a Licenciatura [Licentiate]is a professional degree distinct from the Anglo-Saxon Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor in Science as it requires that the student take more credits for the completion of a professional curricula than those needed in the latter mentioned system. The Licenciatura allows the holder to practice his/her profession in all of Bolivia with the exception of those holding a Law degree. The durational requirements to obtain a Licenciatura vary depending on the profession studied, however most universities require the completion of the curricula within five or six years. Aside from the durational requirements, Bolivian universities also require that all candidates, at the completion of the curricula, complement their studies by writing a thesis or by sitting for an oral examination in which State and University representatives take part by testing the student’s professional knowledge and skills.


In Brazil, the licenciate is a 3-4 year degree that qualifies to teach in primary and secondary education.


While the term licentiate is not generally used by Canadian academic institutions, a Licentiate in Laws (LL.L.) is offered by some Canadian universities for the completion of studies equivalent to a Bachelor of Civil Law.

Costa Rica

This title is awarded to students after 5 years of study, they are required to write a thesis, attend a graduation seminar or develop a project in order to graduate.

Dominican Republic

In Dominican Republic, a Licenciatura is awarded to students after 4 years of study, they are required to write a thesis or a monographic in order to graduate. Is one of the major University degree previous to doctoral studies.


In French universities, a licenciate (licencié(e)) is the holder of a licence, which is a three-year degree, roughly equivalent to an Anglo-Saxon bachelor's degree. There are two kinds of licence: general and professional.

Finland and Sweden

In Swedish and Finnish universities, Licentiate's degree equals completion of the coursework required for a doctorate and a dissertation formally equivalent to half of a doctoral dissertation, likened to a MPhil degree in the British system. Its prerequisite is a completed academic Master's degree. The licentiate is particularly popular with students already involved in the working life, such that completing a full doctor's dissertation while working would be too difficult. The Licentiate's degree is called a filosofie licentiat in Swedish and filosofian lisensiaatti in Finnish (Licentiate of Philosophy), teologie licentiat and teologian lisensiaatti (Licentiate of Theology) etc, depending on the faculty. Furthermore, the requisite degree for a physician's license is lisensiaatti; there is no Master's degree. (The degree lääketieteen tohtori "Doctor of Medicine" is a traditional "professors degree", or a research doctorate, with Licentiate as a prerequisite.)

The Licentiate of Engineering (LicEng) is an intermediate postgraduate degree used only in a few countries, among them Sweden and Finland, and can be seen as an academic step halfway between a Master's and a PhD. In Swedish, it is called Teknologie Licentiat, usually abbreviated as Tekn. Lic., and in Finnish, tekniikan lisensiaatti.

The Licentiate of Engineering corresponds to 120 ECTS credits (80 old credits), or nominally two years of full – time work, whereas a PhD amounts to 240 ECTS credits (160 old credits), or a nominal period of four years of full – time work (one old credit equals one week of full – time studies). However, as a result of the differences in requirements and individual performance, the time to complete a Licentiate of Engineering degree varies.

The programme for a Licentiate degree is equivalent to a total of two years of full-time study for those who are awarded a doctoral position. A person who has a doctoral position normally teaches on the undergraduate programmes, equivalent to a maximum of 20% of the working time. It then ought to be possible for a Licentiate degree to be taken within 2.5 years. (see


In Germany, a person titled Lizentiat holds the equivalent education of a master's degree or Diplom. Until the 1990s the degree was offered as a law degree at the University of the Saar as a single university degree (Lic.iur.) with a duration varying between 5 to 8-years. For political reasons this degree was discontinued, mainly because the Staatsexamen (Law degree) was predominantly representing the mainstream education of a lawyer. The Lizentiat is largely equivalent to the 1. Staatsexamen but unlike the latter is assessed by university, not the state administration. It also allowed specialisation in areas of the law which were either not covered by other legal qualifications, e.g. ecclesiastical law etc, or not covered to the same extent. Other disciplines such as theology or journalism (FU Berlin) used to offer a Lizentiat qualification instead of a PhD.


In India, the Licentiate is a vocational qualification offered by the special vocational boards or professional bodies. These are offered after completion of school education and are somewhat less extensive than a full-fledged university degree. Issuers of the Licentiate degree include Insurance Institute of India, Association of Mutual Funds of India, the Diploma Examination Board of the government of Andhra Pradesh, etc.

Licentiate Medical Practioner was a recognized medical qualification in India before 1946, when the Bhore Committee effectively made the MBBS the sole entry point into the medical profession in India.


Mexico's Licenciados, not unlike Argentina's system, are the de-facto professional qualification at the national level. The licenciatura applies to all the universitary study fields in Mexico: a telecommunications engineer, for example, is legally a telecommunications engineering licentiate. Holding a Licenciado degree does not, however, ensure the right to practice. Disciplines such a Medicine and Law require passage of a national exam. Most universities do not require a thesis to graduate at the Licentiate level, but for a number of years, it was the only method by which a graduate could qualify for his or her title from the National University (UNAM); some colleges, such as ITESO, forgo the thesis for one year of professional practice.

Conversions of the title range from B.A. to something as advanced as an M.S., though most recipients would qualify for a Master's degree in their respective field (as is the case for science, engineering, and medicine). As in Argentina, courses of study are from 4 to 5 years and usually continue on to a Master's Degree in a more generalized field. Master's work ads 2 years or less, as does a doctorate. Doctorates can be entered straight out of Licentiate but this entails doctoral study of 4 to 5 years.


In Peru, a Licenciatura is a Professional Title. It is awarded to university graduates after they have completed five years of professional studies in their Professional Department or Faculty, and hold at least a bachelor degree on the specific field they are applying to obtain the Professional Title. It allows the person to practice in the Republic of Peru. To obtain a "Licenciatura" the person requires to write a thesis, develop a research project or in some cases to give two exams (a professional written exam and an oral in front of a group of professional professors). For some professions which used to be called "carreras largas" or long professions (dentistry, law, psychology and medicine), the university student requires more than five years of studies or 10 semesters to complete their professional education. Certain professions require the "Licenciatura" and the mandatory College registration to be able to work. Today some universities do not write the word "Licenciado or Licenciada" before the Professional Title, e.g. "Licenciado/a en Farmacia y Bioquímica" or "Químico Farmacéutico", in such cases, both written titles will be the same Professional Title for someone who practices Pharmacy. In Peru, the Licenciatura, is not a university degree is a Professional Title in a specific profession. It is important to notice that the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science in the Anglo-Saxon universities are minor degrees that are completed within the first four semesters of the five years of studies (please go to Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) to fully understand this topic.


A "Licencjat" is a degree introduced in Poland after tertiary education reforms following the fall of Communism to bring the Polish university system roughly into line with European norms. It is typically a 3- or 4-year degree, equivalent to the Bachelor's degree in Anglophone countries. Students completing a Licencjat often go on to complete a Master's degree, previously the first undergraduate degree granted by Polish Universities.


In the Portuguese higher education system, the licentiate's degree (Licenciatura) is the first degree awarded by institutions of higher education. It is the 1st cycle degree used in the European Higher Education Area, and is equivalent to the bachelor's degree which is widely used in other regions of the world, like in the United States.

Due to the new developments introduced by the Bologna Process in the mid-2000s, the term may still refer to both the old Licenciaturas which were awarded in Portugal before the "Bologna's reforms" (ranging from 4 to 6-year degrees), or the new Licenciaturas which have been awarded since then in Portugal and almost all Europe with varying local designations (3 or 4-year degrees) - the 1st study cycle degree.


Before the Bologna Process, the Licenciatura was a single university degree with a duration varying between 4 to 6 years (with or without a final written dissertation, depending on the type of course or department), higher than the polytechnic 3-year Bacharelato degree (now discontinued), but lower than the Portuguese full scientific master's degree (Mestrado Científico). It conferred an automatic licensure for working in a particular profession and a full accreditation by the respective professional orders - ordens profissionais. The Portuguese polytechnic institutions used to award a single 3-year short cycle Bacharelato degree, an undergraduate degree without neither the Licenciatura's licensure for working in a particular profession nor an accreditation by the respective professional orders. After 1998, the polytechnic institutions were legally upgraded to award new Licenciaturas Bietápicas (2-step licenciate's degree) which were a 3-years Bacharelato plus an additional optative 1 to 2-years cycle conferring a polytechnic Licenciatura. The Licenciatura diploma was also required for those applicants who wished to undertake master's and/or doctorate programs but admission were only allowed for Licenciatura degree owners with final grades over 13.5 (out of 20) - notice that a Portuguese full scientific master's degree (Mestrado) was not required for applicants to a doctorate program if their Licenciatura's final grade was over 15.5.

Due to Europe's Bologna Process, since 2006 the new Licenciatura degrees were organized at both universities and polytechnics - they are now a 1st study cycle (3 to 4 years, in most cases just 3) offered by any institution of higher education, and are the only required condition for any applicant who wish to undertake the second study cycle which awards a master's degree (now mandatory for doctorate programs). The process was not a mere formal administrative change because the curricula and the teaching methods of the new Bologna Licenciatura and Mestrado degrees are totally new. Like in the past, not all new "Bologna" licentiate's degrees are accredited by the ordens in the concerned field (for example, an accredited full chartered engineer must have a recognized diploma from the Ordem dos Engenheiros in a country where accredited courses in engineering are only about one-third of the total number of engineering courses offered by a large number of institutions).

After the Bologna Process, the Licenciatura became an undergraduate academic degree awarded to students by higher education institutions after a 3 or 4 year 1st cycle of study at a university, polytechnical institute or other higher education institution. Some courses (like engineering) are accredited only after the student finishes his second study cycle or a joint degree which confers the masters' degree (Mestrado). The first study cycle which confers the Licenciatura is not sufficient to be an accredited professional in some fields (for example a professional full chartered engineer, lawyer or architect) in Portugal or in Europe. On the other side, there are not Licenciatura degrees in fields like medicine because the shortest first study cycle in those fields after "Bologna", is a mandatory 6-year joint degree (Mestrado Integrado), so these students are awarded not less than a master's degree. In addition, some pharmacy, architecture or even certain engineering degrees offered by a number of universities are also joint degrees.


In Spain the Licenciatura degree is one of the major higher-education degrees previous to doctoral studies. A Licenciatura typically requires from 4 to 6 years of University courses, and has a typical credit workload of 300 to 400 credits. The Licenciatura academic degree is academically equivalent to the Ingeniero or Arquitecto degrees. A Licenciatura or Licenciate degree also provides direct access to the professional practice or membership in professional associations such as Bar Associations for Lawyers (Colegio de Abogados), medicine, economics, and other regulated professions.

This system will also be progressively changed for the 'Grado' (Bachelor) and 'Master' system due to the Bologna Declaration on the European higher education area. Nowadays Licenciatura consists in 4 or 5 years (or 6 years in Medicine) and allows direct transition into Doctoral studies. Currently, Licenciatura degrees, Diplomatura degrees (3 years), Ingeniería Técnica (technical engineering) degrees (3 years) and Ingeniería degrees (4 to 6 years) are the undergraduate diplomas in Spain. Note, however, that the label "undergraduate" here may be misleading to an anglophone audience, since while a Spanish Diplomatura may be likened to an American undergraduate bachelor's degree, a Spanish Licenciatura is comparable in scope to an American postgraduate master's degree, as the anglophone distinction between "undergraduate" and "postgraduate" degrees (and between "colleges" and "universities") does not properly apply to the traditional higher-education system of several European countries such as Spain (modelled after the German system). For example, many Spanish licenciados when translating their CVs into English use the formula BA+MA (or BSc+MSc) to indicate that a Licenciatura is equivalent to a masters degree. As a matter of fact - depending on the degree and study plan - some Spanish universities require a small thesis or research project to be submitted in the last year before the student can finally claim his/her degree.

After the Bologna process, apparently (because the final decission has not yet been taken) Licenciatura and Ingeniería degrees will be divided into Grados (4 years or 240 ECTS credits), followed by Masters (requiring an additional 1 or 2 years and geared towards preparing candidates for professional life and specialitation, between 60 to 100 ECTS credits) while Diplomaturas and Ingenierías Técnicas will be upgraded to Grado (increasing the academic workload to 1 more year or 240 ECTS credits). Most of Ingeniería técnica and Ingeniería degrees will be unified because of their similarity, a move that created significant tensions. There will be exceptions for Pharmacy, Odontology, Veterinary, Medicine, Architecture degrees. These ones will keep the 5 years (6 years in case of Medicine) in their curricula. Doctoral candidates will have to obtain a Grado and a Master´s degree before accessing their Doctoral studies. The Doctoral studies have also been modified, and candidates will only be asked to prepare and defend a Doctoral Thesis, as opposed to the pre-Bologna system, where both doctoral studies and the doctoral thesis where required.

It should be noted that, prior to the Bologna process, the Master's degree was not considered an official academic degree in Spain as the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate studies could only be done directly from a Licenciatura to doctoral studies.


See Finland and Sweden


In Switzerland most of the first University degrees are called licentiate or licence, but mostly used in its abbreviation lic. (coming from Latin licentiatus (m) or licentiata (f)). It usually requires 4-7 years of study depending on the field of study. The second University degrees are called DEA or DESS degrees and are equivalent to a Master's degree and they qualify the holder for admission to doctoral studies. The licentiate will be progressively changed for the 'Bachelor' grade 3-years of study and the 'DEA & DESS' for the 'Master' grade 2-years of study, due to the Bologna Convention. According the Swiss University Conference, the joint organization of the cantons and the Confederation for university politics, and the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities, the old licentiate is considered as equivalent as the current 'Master' grade .


A Licenciatura is awarded to students after 5 years of study, they are required to write a thesis or develop a research project in order to graduate.

Domain variations


In Canada, anyone who complete the Level III Heraldic Proficiency Courses will be granted the right to use the post-nominal of LRHSC (Licentiate of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada). This is awarded by the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada.

Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics


A medical graduate must obtain the qualification of Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada from the Medical Council of Canada before eligible to apply for licensure in the province or territory concerned.

Great Britain & Ireland

These Conjoint diplomas were latterly awarded by the United Examining Board. The first two, and latterly the first three, were granted together in England, and the last three in Scotland, until 1999, after which approval to hold the examinations was withdrawn. The qualifications are still registrable with the General Medical Council, and allow the bearer to practice medicine in the UK, and they used to be recognised by some state medical boards in the USA.

The Licentiate of Apothecaries' Hall was a similar qualifying medical diploma awarded externally in Dublin until recognition was lost in 1968.

In Dublin, students at the School of Medicine of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland still qualify with licentiate diplomas from the two Irish Royal Colleges, coupled with a Licence in Midwifery from each, although in the past few years they have also been awarded the three medical bachelor's degrees of the National University of Ireland:

  • Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (LRCPI) or (L & LM, RCPI) and
  • Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (LRCSI) or (L & LM, RCSI).

Certain maternity hospitals in Dublin used to award a Licentiate in Midwifery or LM diploma, not to midwives but to qualified medical practitioners who had been examined there after a three month residential appointment. The Rotunda Hospital was the most recent to do so.


The Licentiate of Theology is a sub-degree or diploma- or master's-level qualification offered by a number of educational institutions.

Bologna Convention

In 2003, the European Union organized the Bologna convention on higher education - 'The Bologna process' - in order to create uniform standards across the EU in that field. The resulting conclusions called for all European universities to change their degree programs to an undergraduate degree and a master's degree.

In Fiction

In John Brunner Alternate History novel "Times Without Number", depicting a world where the Spanish Armada won over England, a "Licentiate" is person authorised by the Catholic Church to engage in time traveling.


See also

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