I have been wondering why some LLMs are only university certificates although they are equal to 60 ECTS. Someone in the previous threads argued that it is beacause of them being taught fully in English but it cannot be true because there are advanced masters which are degree programmes and they are taught fully in English as well. Can anyone proficient in the meanders of the Belgium higher education clarify the issue? What refrains Belgian unis from making a lot of their LLMs, especially distance learning but also on-campus ones (e.g. UBL), degree worthy?
Thanks in advance for any replies!
The answer is quite simple actually.
In the European definition of what a Master Degree is, we need to refer back to the European legislation that unifies the Educational systems among the EU members. Because there is a consensus between the EU state members about what a Masters Degree should be, there are also rules that govern the cost of the tuition fees of such degrees.
Now, for any European university, the language of teaching is most likely not English but because they are facing an increasing demand from Foreign students (and the universities being compelled to respond to that demand for the sake of QS' and other international rating metrics to keep them on top of the best universities to get a degree from), European universities have developed English-speaking programmes as an alternative to the UK for all these international prospects.
Being established that there is a demand for a service that is not offered in the local language of the universities, there is a need to create an offer to match this demand. However, universities are facing two principal constraints : the market is very competitive so the quantity of actual international students is pretty slim in the end and the price point of these programmes (if they were State Degrees) are capped by the European legislation.
Universities must rely on their national legal framework to offer an LL.M. degree that can fit the bill: the number of students for these programmes being much lower than the usual national degrees, the only option is to bring up the tuition fees. But by doing so, such Masters cannot stay within the European legal framework and they need to become "University Degrees" (as in opposition of "State Degrees").
Now, to be fair with the UK and USA LLM degrees, those degrees out there are not governed by the same (European) laws and therefore, their cost are widely different (that is, very much higher than a EU Masters Degree). The LLM offered in a European university are still very competitive, financially speaking, with those that a student could get from a UK or USA university, but with the charm of a European city life experience.
What would be the difference between an LLM from the USA or UK or Europe ? None, really. Professionally speaking there are all regarded up to the value of what people give to the university that delivered them.
Why would it matter that the LLM degree you get is NOT a Masters degree in its European definition (in other words, not a M2)? Well, it only matters if you want to pursue a European bar exam (and even for that, the requirement is M1 most of the time and there are other ways around it), or a PhD in a European university (UK or USA are not sensitive to the notion of university degree vs state degree), or perhaps, in certain cases, getting a post-graduate visa in the European country you are aiming for (but here again, if you really want to stay, you would need a work permit instead anyways).
So to the question, are those European LLM degree worthy? Absolutely! Not only financially speaking, but for the tremendous exposure and cultural experience of living in a Foreign country. This year abroad will surely stand out on your CV!
Hoping this helps, I would be happy to continue this conversation in private if you have mode questions.
Best regards and good luck in your studies!
[Edited by Buci on Nov 16, 2023]