Within the sciences and some social sciences, previous research experience may be important.[6][9] By contrast, within most humanities disciplines, an example of academic writing normally suffices. Many universities require a personal statement (sometimes called Statement of purpose or Letter of Intent), which may include indications of the intended area(s) of research;[7] how detailed this statement is or whether it is possible to change one's focus of research depends strongly on the discipline and department to which the student is applying.
Requirements for research-based programmes vary among universities. Generally, however, a student is not required to take taught modules as part of their candidacy. It is now common that first-year Ph.D. candidates are not regarded as permanent Ph.D. students for fear that they may not be sufficiently prepared to undertake independent research. In such cases, an alternative degree will be awarded for their previous work, usually an M.Phil. or M.Sc. by research.
The old Spanish degrees of Licenciado (Licenciate), Arquitecto (Architect) and Ingeniero (Engineer) are also equivalent to master's degrees. They were integrated programmes of study that combined first and second cycles and led to a second cycle qualification. The Spanish government issued a royal decree in 2014 establishing the official equivalences between the Spanish pre-Bologna degrees and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) levels.[92] Most (if not all) Licenciado, Arquitecto and Ingeniero degrees were placed in level 7 (Master) of the EQF. These programmes have been phased out and replaced with the new Bologna programmes of Máster, to be completed after completion of a programme of Grado (Bachelor's).
Doctorates. These are often further divided into academic and professional doctorates. An academic doctorate can be awarded as a Doctor of Philosophy degree (from Latin Doctor philosophiæ; Ph.D. or D.Phil.) or as a Doctor of Science degree (from Latin Doctor scientiæ; D.Sc.). The Doctor of Science degree can also be awarded in specific fields, such as a Doctor of Science in Mathematics degree (from Latin Doctor scientiarum mathematic arum; D.Sc.Math.), a Doctor of Agricultural Science degree (from Latin Doctor scientiarum agrariarum; D.Sc.Agr.), a Doctor of Business Administration degree (D.B.A.), etc. In some parts of Europe, doctorates are divided into the Doctor of Philosophy degree or "junior doctorate," and the "higher doctorates" such as the Doctor of Science degree, which is generally awarded to highly distinguished professors. A doctorate is the terminal degree in most fields. In the United States, there is little distinction between a Doctor of Philosophy degree and a Doctor of Science degree. In the UK, Doctor of Philosophy degrees are often equivalent to 540 CATS credits or 270 ECTS European credits, but this is not always the case as the credit structure of doctoral degrees is not officially defined.
Research degrees generally consist of either Masters or Doctorate programs. In some disciplines it is acceptable to go straight from the undergraduate degree into a Ph.D. program if one achieves a very good Honors degree (see Admissions below), and in others, it may be encouraged or expected or simply advantageous in varying amounts for the student to first undertake a research Masters before applying to Ph.D. programs. Research master's degrees may be still called an M.A. or M.Sc., like a course work Masters, or may have a special appellation, e.g. M.Phil. Doctorate programs may lead to the award of a Ph.D. or a D.Phil. depending on the university or faculty.
There are also discipline-specific differences. A person applying for a doctoral program in Biblical studies or theology from a seminary or theological school must already hold a first professional degree in the field, known as the Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.). The M.Div. is a three-year master's program, however, a thesis is usually not required before completion. The M.Div. is the entry degree for the Doctor of Ministry degree (D.Min) or the Ph.D.

When negotiations fail, graduate employee unions sometimes go on strike. While graduate student unions can use the same types of strikes that other unions do, they have also made use of teach-ins, work-ins, marches, rallies, and grade strikes. In a grade strike, graduate students refuse to grade exams and papers and, if the strike lasts until the end of the academic term, also refuse to turn in final grades. Another form of job action is known as "work-to-rule", in which graduate student instructors work exactly as many hours as they are paid for and no more.

The old Spanish degrees of Licenciado (Licenciate), Arquitecto (Architect) and Ingeniero (Engineer) are also equivalent to master's degrees. They were integrated programmes of study that combined first and second cycles and led to a second cycle qualification. The Spanish government issued a royal decree in 2014 establishing the official equivalences between the Spanish pre-Bologna degrees and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) levels.[92] Most (if not all) Licenciado, Arquitecto and Ingeniero degrees were placed in level 7 (Master) of the EQF. These programmes have been phased out and replaced with the new Bologna programmes of Máster, to be completed after completion of a programme of Grado (Bachelor's).


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