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ISCED 2011 Operational Manual

Guidelines for Classifying National Education Programmes and Related Qualifications

image of ISCED 2011 Operational Manual

The structure of education systems varies widely between countries. In order to produce internationally comparable education statistics and indicators, it is necessary to have a framework to collect and report data on education programmes with a similar level of educational content. UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is the reference classification for organising education programmes and related qualifications by education levels and fields. The basic concepts and definitions of ISCED are intended to be internationally valid and comprehensive of the full range of education systems.

ISCED 2011 is the second major revision of this classification (initially developed in the 1970s and first revised in 1997). It was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011. Prepared jointly by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the OECD and Eurostat, this operational manual provides guidelines and explanatory notes for the interpretation of the revised classification, by each education level. It also includes country examples of programmes and qualifications that have been classified to ISCED 2011.

This manual will be useful for national statisticians collecting and reporting data on education to international organisations, as well as for policymakers and researchers interested in better understanding of these data.

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ISCED 2011 Level 7: Master's or equivalent level

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Programmes at ISCED level 7, or Master’s or equivalent level, have a significantly more complex content than programmes at ISCED level 6 and are usually more specialised. The content of ISCED level 7 programmes is often designed to provide participants with advanced academic and/ or professional knowledge, skills and competencies, leading to a second degree or equivalent qualification. Programmes at this level may have a substantial research component but do not yet lead to the award of a doctoral qualification. The cumulative duration of studies at the tertiary level thus lasts from usually five to eight years or even longer. Programmes classified at ISCED level 7 may be referred to in many ways, for example: Master programmes or Magister studies. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘Master’s or equivalent level’ is used to label ISCED level 7.

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