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Magister (also magistar, female form: Magistra from lat.: magisterTeacher”) is an academic degree used in various systems of higher education.

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Central Europe and Eastern Europe

In Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, and Slovakia, the Magister is equal to a Master's degree. It usually requires four to six years of study including coursework and a final thesis, similar to a Diplom degree. Magisters tend to be awarded in the humanities and the social sciences, while Diploms dominate in the natural sciences and in engineering. Before the implementation of the Bologna process – which introduced the Bachelor's degree – the Magister was a first degree.[1]

Finland and Sweden

In Finland and Sweden, the Magister (fin. Maisteri) is by far the most prevalent form of masters degree traditionally taken as a first degree. The degree usually lasts about 5–6 years and is structured into Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced progressional components. Since the introduction of the Bologna Process in 2005, the Magister has been broken into bachelor (formerly Basic/Intermediate) and master (formerly Advanced) components. However, the vast majority of students continue right through to complete the master degree and, in effect, the duration and extent of the old Magister degree remains much as it was.

In Sweden, magister (filosofie magister) historically was the highest degree at the faculties of philosophy and was equivalent to the doctorate used in theology, law and medicine. The degree was abolished in 1863, and replaced with the Doctor of Philosophy. The magister degrees used in Denmark and Norway most closely resemble this degree.

Magister has since referred to several degrees in Sweden which are unrelated to the original magister degree and unrelated to the magister degrees in the other Scandinavian countries. Some universities conferred a degree called magister between 1908 and 1969, which was roughly comparable to a master's degree.

A new undergraduate magister degree, requiring at least 4 years of studies, was introduced in 1993. In 2007, this degree was replaced with a 1-year graduate degree which require three years of undergraduate studies. It is officially translated into either Master of Arts, Master of Social Science or Master of Science depending on the subject.[2]

Denmark and Norway

In Denmark and Norway the Magister is situated between the Candidate (Masters) and doctoral degrees. The degree require 7 years of studies in Norway and 6 years of studies in Denmark, with strong emphasis on the scientific thesis.

It gives the holder the right to use the title mag. art. (abbreviation of the Latin magister artium "teacher of the arts") if the degree is earned in humanities or social sciences, mag. scient. for Natural Science and (Denmark only) mag. scient. soc. for Sociology. The degree is no longer awarded today.

The degree was originally introduced in Denmark-Norway in 1479, as the highest degree at the Faculty of Philosophy, and was equivalent to the doctoral degrees in Theology, Law and Medicine. It was replaced by the doctor philosophiæ degree as the highest degree at the Faculty of Philosophy in 1824. In 1848, a new Magister degree was introduced in Denmark as a supplement to the existing Candidate's degree programs, mainly extending the thesis portion of the Candidate's degree (the Candidate degree being a slightly higher degree than a Master, historically requiring 6 years of studies). The program was designed to be preparation for finding employment as a researcher. Sometimes the degree was obtained after the Candidate's degree had been obtained. The Magister degrees, modelled after the Danish ones, were introduced in Norway in the early 1920s.

In Denmark and Norway, those obtaining doctorates were often already well-established academics, often professors. The magister degree hence had the function of the PhD degree in more recent times. The magister degree approximates the current Ph.D. degrees used in Denmark and Norway (especially in Norway).

Former territories of Yugoslavia

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, and other countries once part of Yugoslavia, before the implementation of the Bologna process, the magistar nauka (Magister of Science) was a research-oriented degree awarded for 2 or 3 years of study following the diploma degree (which lasted 4 to 5 years) and the defense of a magistarski rad (magister's thesis).[3][4]. In order to be promoted to doktor nauka (Doctor of Science), a magistar was supposed to write and defend a doctoral thesis. Magistar um(j)etnosti (Magister of Arts) was a terminal degree in music performance, acting and visual arts.

In Serbia, by decision of the Serbian Parliament (Odredba stava 2.), the status of those graduated before the Bologna process is now equivalent with Masters Degree graduates in the EU.[5] Magister's degree has been considered as equivalent of the first two years of three years doctoral studies. In Croatia, the statuses are regulated by a new law from 2007[6] and a new classification from 2008.[7]

Entering 'Magistar" studies was a highly selective process. Only students with high GPA were eligible for these kind of studies. Mostly, those were preselected students who were employed at Universities.

This kind of degree entitles one to be considered as PhD candidate. He or she can immediately start working on a dissertation. The person with this kind of degree completed overall 4 + 3 years of education (humanities, science etc.) or 5 + 3 (engineering) years of education after high school. Two years were related to the coursework only. After two years of coursework and research, the thesis was completed in a year or two after the coursework, although it roughly depended on a workload of an average graduate student who is considered to be a faculty member with teaching responsibilities (which can be up to 16 hours per week of a teaching load).

After the Bologna process, previous undergraduate education has been reformed. Current students that are in a 3- or 4-year Bachelor program and 1–2 Master program have to complete PhD requirements before writing their dissertation. They have to complete the coursework and pass preliminary exams. Students with Magistar degree have no such requirements. They have to do the research only related to the dissertation.

See also: Diploma.

France

In France, a magistère was a highly selective three-year course. To enter the course the student was required to obtain top-level grades at his Diplôme d'études universitaires générales (two-year first university degree). Due to the Bologna process, magistères are substituted by master's degrees. The most prestigious French universities still offer "magistères" in Law, Economics, or Sciences, which are open to the highest-ranked students at the end of the first two years of studies.

References

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