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US on Bologna

The changes in higher education policy and practice in Europe, started in 1999 and collectively known as the Bologna Process, have not only a European, but a global impact. Acknowledging this reality, ACA’s American associate member, the Institute for International Education (IIE) conducted a survey analysing how the Bologna reforms affect the way US higher education institutions are approaching graduate admissions, awarding credit transfer and credit for study abroad, and advancing institutional linkages. The survey was conducted in the autumn of 2008. The subsequent briefing paper, entitled 'Three-Year Bologna-Compliant Degrees: Responses From US Graduate Schools', summarises the findings of the survey and tries to articulate an answer to the following questions: What level of understanding of the Bologna reforms and recognition of Bologna-compliant credentials exists in the United States?  More specifically, how are three-year undergraduate Bologna-compliant credentials viewed for admission to US graduate study?

The findings show relatively high levels of knowledge about the Bologna Process among survey respondents, who represented 167 programs at 120 US institutions. More than half of them said their institutions had an official policy in place to guide the admissions response to three-year Bologna-compliant degrees. Within this group, a third tended to view three-year Bologna-compliant degrees as equivalent to the US four-year degrees, and another third decided equivalency on a case-by-case basis.

Yet despite the high levels of knowledge and formalised admission procedures related to this type of degrees, most respondents said that at the moment few applicants to their institutions hold these credentials. Graduate professionals also confirmed that they are closely monitoring the evolution of the Bologna Process and that the EHEA reforms have created an opportunity on some campuses for larger discussions on how international credentials are perceived and evaluated.