Skip to the content



Postgraduate studies

Postgraduate education involves learning and studying for degrees or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree generally is required, and is normally considered to be part of tertiary or higher education.

The organisation and structure of postgraduate education varies in institutions within Kurdistan region. Many postgraduate courses contain both taught and research elements. You can often tailor degrees to fit your specific needs in following qualifications.

Postgraduate High Diplomas studies are almost always taught course qualifications. They usually follow the same programme as a Masters degree but are assessed only by exam, without a disertation.

Masters degrees are usually awarded for one year’s study and are assessed by exam and a short thesis. A thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings. Masters degrees in Kurdistan region can consist of both taught and research elements.

MPhil is a two or more years’ research programme ending in a dissertation or thesis of 50,000-70,000 words. Many institutions in Kurdistan region allow successful MPhil students to convert directly to the second year of a PhD course after their first year.

Doctorates take three or more years of independent study and research. Almost all Doctorates are completed purely by research, ending in a dissertation or thesis of 70,000-100,000 words (shorter in science).


Reforming the Masters Degree in the Kurdistan Region:

Enhancing Capacity and Quality

Professor Dlawer Abdul Aziz Ala’Aldeen,

Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research 

The Kurdistan Region needs more specialist teachers and postgraduates due to the increased number of students in the universities and colleges, the demands of industry, and Government departments.

Preparing teachers and cadres of graduates with high standards of skilled labour is one of the biggest challenges facing universities today. Fortunately, our academic leaders have worked diligently to create tens of Master’s programs to prepare tutors to fill the many needs in the market place.

It is no secret that creating and executing these Master’s programs was not part of a strategically developed long-term plan. Due to the numbers of courses and the shortfalls in standards, the Ministry of Higher Education has decided to review all Master’s programs in every field of study.

The current state of Master’s Programs

Most of the Master’s programs have strong, modern foundations. The first year of study is divided into two courses. The first encompasses an introduction to the specialist topics; the second focuses on the core aspects of these specialist topics. The second year is set aside for scientific research.  This study design is appropriate for our needs and is not in need of restructuring.  However, there are some fundamental problems that do need to be addressed:

  • At the regional level, there is no central plan to highlight the needs of the higher education institutions, other government institutions and the private sector;
  • With regard to capacity and space, most programs are limited and cannot fill market needs easily;
  • In terms of quality of teaching, the style of learning is the same as that of the Bachelor’s programs. In that the topics are taught in the classical manner.  The syllabi and structure need to be reformed;
  • There are numerous problems inherent in the admissions procedures, teaching structure, examinations and graduation requirements. Specifically, there is no modern method of quality-assurance;
  • The established faculties are dependent for the most part on internal teachers who have not incorporated knowledge or experience from abroad into the programs.

The Changes

For planning purposes, the Kurdistan Region will now become one academic body. Geographical space for courses will belong to all universities and departments no matter where they are offered. Admissions policies will apply to all Master’s programs and a Ministry Council for Higher Education will decide how to allocate the places available for programsFor the next three to four years, most of the available places will be set aside for the new universities and colleges in order to meet the needs of these institutions.

Through the Council for Higher Education, the Ministry has requested that the faculties in the various universities and colleges meet to plan the details. In particular, it is necessary for the heads of departments to agree on the following:

  1. In any specialist field, it is necessary to ensure that Master’s programs continue to be offered in one of the centres (departments/faculties).  The other programs must case unless all of the teachers actively participate in teaching the Master’s course as if it were their own. So, one of the centres will host the program while welcoming other students and teachers with the understanding that they will participate in the policy and execution of corresponding scientific work. The certificates will be awarded to students under the name of the host university. If the region’s need for a specific field is in high demand and if a number of centres could teach the Master’s program, then two or three of the centres would receive permission to establish the program and undertake its teaching.
  1.  The first course of the first term will remain the same and it will be an introduction to the specialist field/topic. Teaching these courses will be the responsibility of the teachers at the host centre. They will receive help and the participation of guest teachers from other universities and the region’s other departments.
  1. Fundamental changes will be applied to the second course of the first year. This requires three things: enrichment with specific specialities, modern knowledge and external teachers. This does not mean that teachers from the same faculty in different universities are the only ones to cooperate. Rather, the host university should try to implement a well-prepared programme to bring in a greater number of specialist teachers (from outside the region) to participate in conducting the specialist courses. None of the Master’s courses should be completed without such participation from the outside in order to benefit from external talent coming to the region, whether Kurd or other. Such a policy or plan must be considered when setting the budget for a particular Master’s program.
  1. Quality-assurance schemes must be implemented in the same style as at the Bachelor’s level (past and present) before the start of the Master’s courses of the following academic year. Under current policy, once the host university has been decided, a teacher from the department, a course convener and an external teacher are appointed as external examiners. Priority must be given to specialists from outside the region.
  1. In the second year of the Master’s program when research is conducted, all departments in every university capable of supervising the students must participate. From the early stages, a list of the capable centres (those with test centres, potential and available supervisors) should be prepared at the host universities and others. In the second-year students must be distributed across suitable departments in order to carry out their research projects. This will depend on student choice, those with a guaranteed place and the capabilities of the universities. The new universities and colleges that are unable to supervise and support the research of their own students must send their students as guests to another university and meet their expenses and needs.
  2. For any Master’s degree program, an academic board involving the heads of different and participating faculties should be established. The board’s responsibility will be to form plans, form relationships between the faculties and supervise in conducting the Master’s courses. This board will meet once every three months to evaluate progress and solve any problems that arise.


Studying in a Master’s program is the best, quickest and most effective way to prepare high level teachers and cadres to meet the future needs of universities and industry in the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Region will require a large army of Master’s graduates for many years to come. The Master’s courses in the region have been built on a strong and modern foundation. However, with the improvements listed above and the implementation of the quality-assurance scheme, the region’s ability to educate and produce its own teachers will be improved. This is why enriching and raising standards of Master’s programs is one of the priorities of the Ministry for Higher Education. Updating Master’s studies is a continuing project and subject to continuous review. In the near future, after granting the universities independence, the structure of planning and the shared ownership of the courses will also need to be reviewed.

Whenever people think about doctoral studies, many think about going to college in order to become a medical doctor. However, there are a number of different fields that are available for pursuing the doctoral degree, such as sociology, finance, marketing and
engineering. Let's take a look at what is involved in pursuing the doctoral degree and going for this prestigious title.
Doctoral studies are one element in the development of knowledge and may perhaps be summarized in the words 'new knowledge' and 'disciplinary and academic training'. The aim is to produce capable researchers, whether they will work in higher education or outside of
higher education.
The purpose of the doctorate is to train doctoral students in disciplinary and academic traditions, and above all to develop independent and critically minded researchers.
Doctoral students must learn research methodology, critical analysis and independence in their studies. Research training must therefore stimulate them to adopt a disciplinary approach, which includes:


* the ability to formulate questions pertinent to the discipline and to give structure to a scientific argument;
* the ability to find adequate methods and theories for tackling problems; and
* to be able to reflect critically on the subject of their dissertation.


Doctoral studies are one aspect of the production of knowledge and disciplinary training. They are intended to produce new, sound researchers, irrespective of whether their careers will be in higher education or elsewhere.

In reference to Clause (fourth-2) of the minutes of the Council of the Ministry's meeting no. (12), on 14/8L2012, the minutes of the established committee related to postdoctoral and sabbatical leave was approved by the Council of the Ministry as follows:

  1. Both postdoctoral and sabbatical leave shall be dealt with as forms of study leave, which is mentioned under Clauses (2) and (3) of Article (9) of the University Service Act no. (23) of the year 2008.
  2. In reference to Clause (fourth) of Article (9) of the same above-mentioned Act, "The minister shall issue regulations related to study leave issues."
  3. After negotiating the regulations which are now being followed and, which were decided pursuant to the Ministerial Resolution no. (18878/3) on 27/10/2009, by The Council of Ministers' Presidency/ The Diwan (Secretariat) of the Presidency pursuant to their official letter no. (15915) on 18/11/2009, and inline with the Presidency of Salahaddin University's suggestions as per their official letter no. (9479) on 2/6/2012, the committee recommends, in addition to Clauses (2) and (3) of Article (9) mentioned above, the following regulations be implemented:
  1. Sabbatical Leave
  1. Sabbatical Leave shall last (3 to 6 months).
  2. PhD holders must have (2) years of service, provided that they have, at least, carried out one research during their service period.
  3. The research project must be approved by the scientific committee of the department, on condition that the needs of the project are such that they cannot be provided by the Iraqi and Kurdistan universities and institutions, while the research is included in the plan of the university.
  4. Applicants must have completed three years of service after their previous sabbatical in order to be eligible for another one. But applicants whose academic ranks have been promoted after their previous sabbatical can apply for another one.
  5. The candidate must conduct at least one research within the period of the sabbatical leave, and prepare it to be published in a credible scientific journal with impact factor.
  6. The suggested research must not be taken from his/her MA thesis and PhD dissertation.
  7. The researcher must hold a seminar after return.
  8. The candidate must be proficient in English language so that he/she does not need to attend English language course.
  9. The candidate must sign a guarantee letter at the notary public's office that he/she will return to his/her home country after finishing the research project.
  1. Postdoctoral Study
  1. The research duration shall last (1 to 2 years).
  2. The applicant must be a PhD holder and must have completed 2 years of university service in one of the Kurdistan Region's Universities.
  3. The candidate must have an external supervisor at the foreign university where the research is conducted.
  4. The same above-mentioned points under sabbatical leave (5-9) shall be considered.

Financial Assistance for both Sabbatical Leave and Postdoctoral Study

  1. In both above cases, the candidate shall be given their full salary and fixed allowances.
  2. Study allowances abroad shall be paid according to the group of the country (A, B types) and financial instructions of the Human Development Capacity Building Programme. HCDP 
  3. Travel expenses shall be a fixed amount and shall be paid only one time.