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There exists a degree title called the licentiate in Finland and Sweden which is a graduate title beneath a full PhD title; I've heard it called, among other things, a "half PhD", a "PhD lite" or a "PhD for those already working". However, what formal or practical benefits can/does such a title actually confer, especially since being awarded a licentiate degree entails having a postgraduate degree anyway (a Master's degree, which very much could have entailed doing research itself)?

  • Can the formal qualification and/or work done for it contribute towards a proper PhD at another institution, either immediately after or after some interim period?
  • Is it accepted as proof of any kind of practical research experience in larger institutions outside of Finland and Sweden? From what I've gathered, it seems that research-oriented jobs are very strictly categorized as either "jobs for people with PhDs" or "jobs for everyone else", which suggests that a "not-quite-PhD" degree wouldn't actually open any doors and maybe even close some (due to e.g. being perceived as overqualified, as having "quit" a PhD program or as being "not able" to secure a proper PhD candidate position).
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Here is some experience from Sweden:

First of all, the licentiate isn't really a degree that you can study towards per se, at least not in our institution. Much more, it is an optional, but highly recommended, midterm step in doing a PhD. I guess there has to be some theoretical way of formally studying only towards a licentiate, but I do not know any such case and I would not really see a reason why you would want to do it.

Is it accepted as proof of any kind of practical research experience in larger institutions outside of Finland and Sweden?

Presumably not. Even in Sweden the concept isn't well-known at all outside of academic circles. In practice there are more advantages to having a licentiate within academia than outside - for instance, post-lic PhD students in my department get a little higher salary and some small additional rights, such as being able to act as official primary supervisors for master students. However, mainly the licentiate is considered to be a semi-formal "half-time" exam for the PhD, and used as a test drive for the actual thesis defense.

One small additional thing:

being awarded a licentiate degree entails having a postgraduate degree anyway (a Master's degree, which very much could have entailed doing research itself)?

In Sweden, and more generally in most of Europe, a master's degree isn't generally considered a "postgraduate" degree in the same sense as it is in the US. Our master programmes are primarily by-coursework with a one-semester thesis project at the end, and while the master programme should get students in touch with research, I don't think most people would consider the average master graduate to be a researcher in any definition of the word. Also, many (most?) of our bachelor graduates continue on into one of our master programmes. This is very different to the licentiate / PhD track, that only a small minority of students chooses.

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