15 - Belgium - Certification

At the term of a transition period, pursuant to the decrees adapting the organization of higher education with a view to its inclusion in the European Higher Education Area, the only title that can be awarded at the end of a first cycle of 3 years will be the bachelor’s degree, and successful completion of a second cycle in long-type higher education will lead to the master’s degree.

In addition to the exams organised by education institutions, there is also a system of external exams that functions thanks to the French Community’s boards of examination. The titles awarded have the same value as those awarded by higher education institutions.

Diplomas awarded at the end of education cycles comprising a system of gateways have the same legal value as those awarded on basis of ordinary studies.


Diplomas certifying the academic degrees and certificates attesting successful completion of studies are awarded by boards made up of academic authorities or Community boards. They may only be awarded to students who satisfied the conditions for access to studies, were regularly enrolled for a number of years corresponding to the minimum duration of studies, and who obtained the minimum number of credits for the corresponding study programme. They are delivered within 3 months from the proclamation in the course of which the academic degree is awarded. Diplomas are signed by at least one academic authority or his delegate, and by the president and secretary of the board. Diplomas respect the form determined by the government. They refer explicitly to the accompanying supplement to the diploma. The minimum information specified by the Government appears in French on the diploma. The supplement to the diploma includes the list of courses taken by the student, the conditions of access to studies, and the assessments certified by the awarded academic degree. The personal elements of this supplement, related to each student, may be regrouped in an annex to the supplement. In this case, only the annex must be signed by the secretary of the board, whereas the common part of the supplement is certified by the institute.

With the exception of the doctor’s degree, every academic degree comprises its generic denomination (bachelor, master, medical doctor, veterinary doctor, complementary master) and its qualification, made up of the following elements: 1° the denomination of the programme, preceded by a semicolon or the word ‘in’ or ‘of’; 2° the orientation (if applicable) preceded by ‘, orientation’; 3° the ‘qualification (if applicable), preceded by ‘qualifying for’ – for the academic degree of master certifying a second cycle of at least 120 credits.

For third cycle university studies, the denomination is the name of the accredited doctoral school or the research domain(s). The degree of doctor is mentioned in the denomination of the thesis sustained.

The orientation and options possibly followed specify the contents of the study programme certified by the academic degree, which confer to these studies a particular qualification or purpose. An orientation indicates a specificity of the study programme that leads to it, corresponding to a set of educational activities. This set must comprise more than 30 credits (in the case of an academic degree certifying a 60-credit programme), or at lest 60 credits (in the case of an academic degree certifying a programme of more than 60 credits). In addition, this set cannot amount to more than two thirds of the credits for the cycle of studies. An option indicates the choice, by the student, of a coherent set of particular educational activities counting for 15 to 30 credits, which characterizes all or part of his programme within the study cycle. In total, options cannot exceed one half of the credits for the study cycle.

With the exception of the ‘Art of construction and urbanism’ domain, the authorization to organize complementary master studies can only be granted to academies including an institute authorized to confer a master’s degree certifying second cycle studies of at least 120 credits of the same domain.

The authorization to organize doctoral studies is granted, per domain or group of domains, to the academy or jointly to the academies that host the accredited doctoral school. The authorization to confer the academic degree of doctor is granted to each university or university academy.

The list of denominations and orientations of initial programmes of the university sector is in annex to the Decree of 31 March 2004 and is an integral part of this decree. Some denominations correspond to a single cycle of studies, others to the whole programme. The denominations and orientations of the complementary master’s degree not included in the annex to this decree are determined by the government based on a collegial proposition by the rectors and advice by the French Community Interuniversity Council ( CIUF). The government may impose supplemental conditions on the organisation of these programmes.

The French Community recognizes only one doctoral school per domain of studies. The denominations of the options are determined by the institution.

Subject to the other provisions of the decree of 31 March 2004, supplemental studies and ongoing education programmes are determined by the academic authorities. The list of these programmes is communicated yearly to the government before the end of the academic year for which they are organized.

Through general or individual measures, the government deliberates on granting complete equivalence of studies undertaken outside the French Community. The granting of complete equivalence can be conditional on passing a specific test in the cases and limits established by the government.

Hautes Écoles

Short-type programmes, leading to the bachelor’s degree, are organised in a single profession-oriented cycle of 180 to 240 credits which may be acquired in at least 3 or 4 years of study.

Long-type university-level programmes comprise two cycles: the first cycle, called ‘transition cycle’, comprises 180 credits to be acquired in at least 3 years of study and leads to the bachelor’s degree; the second cycle, called ‘profession-oriented cycle’, comprises 60 to 120 credits to be acquired in respectively one or two years of study and leads to the master’s degree.

Certification is based on year-end exams and a final dissertation. The final examination includes tests and assessments related to all of the educational activities included in the curriculum for the last year of study.

The presentation and defence of a final dissertation or project, if provided for in the specific regulations, constitutes the last test of the exam session. The subject of the final dissertation or project must be related to the purpose of the section or option and must be approved by the head of the institute.

The degrees and supporting certificates or diplomas are issued by the boards of examiners of the hautes écoles or by French Community higher education boards of examiners.

The diplomas are signed by the director-president and by the members of the board of examiners. They are also countersigned by the Government or its delegate. If the diploma is issued by a French Community higher education board of examiners, it is signed by the president and the members of the board, and countersigned by the Government or its delegate. The Government determines the models for the diplomas and diploma supplements. The minimum information specified by the Government appears in French on the diploma. Regardless of the arrangements for the issue of a diploma, only a single supplement to the diploma is issued. Long-type higher studies of the first cycle qualify for one of the academic degrees referred to in the decree of 2 June 2006 establishing the academic degrees issued by the hautes écoles organised or subsidised by the French Community and setting the minimum timetables.

The academic grades awarded by the hautes écolesare defined in a decree voted on 21 February 2003. All categories of higher education (agronomy, applied arts, economics, paramedical, pedagogic, social, technical, translation and interpreting), depending on sections and sub-sections, have corresponding academic degrees awarded in either short-type programmes (mainly bachelor’s, but also bachelor-agrégé for lower secondary education, bachelor in nursing with various specializations, etc.) or long-type programmes (certain bachelor’s or master’s degrees – industrial engineer, commercial engineer, etc. – and agrégéof upper secondary education in the economics category).

Institutions: Service de la sanction des études, des jurys et de la règlementation
Legislation: Décret établissant les grades académiques délivrés par les hautes écoles organisées ou subventionnées par la Communauté française et fixant les grilles horaires minimales


Art colleges

A general study regulation must be adopted by the Government, which will define the rules concerning evaluation (exemptions, examination periods, success conditions, methods of constitution and operation of examination boards, weighting of the different assessment methods, complaints and appeals, conditions and procedures for an extension of the second session for students enrolled in the final year, etc.).

A particular study regulation defines the procedure for applying the general study regulations (disciplinary rules, procedures for organising exams and examination boards, etc.).

The degrees (bachelor’s or master’s depending on the type of studies) and the supporting diplomas or certificates are awarded either by the deliberation board of the art college or the French Community’s higher education examination boards. The diplomas awarded by the boards of art colleges are signed by the head of institute and the members of the deliberation board. They are in addition countersigned by the government or its delegate. The diplomas awarded by a French Community higher education board are signed by the president and members of the board and countersigned by the government or its delegate.

The diploma awarded mentions the domain, the section (if applicable), the option, the specialty (if applicable) as well as the subject of the end-of-studies dissertation (if applicable).

The specialised art master degree has been created. It may be issued in all domains.

Architecture colleges

The first 3-year cycle in long-type university-level higher education leads to the degree of bachelor of architecture. A second 2-year cycle leads to the degree of master of architecture. The title of architect is awarded jointly with the master’s degree.


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Date: 2009
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