Ever since the disintegration of Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century, higher education in Serbia has gone through a unique journey of reform. The country is now a signatory of the Bologna Process (since 2003), adopting the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Before becoming a signatory, many universities in Serbia were shaped after the higher education structure of former Yugoslavia. The Diploma o Stecenom Visokom Obrazovanju —Diploma of Completed Higher Education—was offered upon completion of an undergraduate program at schools in Yugoslavia. With the Bologna Process came the introduction of the First, Second, and Third Cycle pattern degrees in Serbian higher education—a structure not too different from the Bachelor-Master-Doctorate system in the United States. The Diploma Stecenog Visokog Obrazovanja is the current First Cycle degree offered by schools in Serbia.
Medical education in Serbia does not directly follow the Bologna Process structure. Medical programs can begin at the undergraduate level. The Diploma of Acquired Higher Education program in Medicine is a six-year integrated undergraduate professional program, which results in roughly 360 ECTS, offered at schools such as the University of Kragujevac. Admission requirements include the completion of secondary education (High School) as the previous level of education. Upon completion of the integrated program, the professional qualification of Doktor Medicine, Doctor in Medicine, is given. Earning the Diploma grants access to the Diploma I Strucna Zvanja Specijalista, Diploma and Professional Title of Specialist, at the postgraduate level. This credential is one of the highest professional credentials one can earn in Serbia.
The qualification of Doctor of Medicine can also be given when awarding the Integrisane Osnovne I Master Akademske Studije, Integrated Basic and Master Academic Studies. Completing this integrated program also results in the professional qualification of Doctor of Medicine, however, the program is postgraduate. Schools such as the University of Niš offer this program, which is also awarded with 360 ECTS. Completion of this credential also leads to Third Cycle programs, including the Diploma and Professional Title of Specialist.
The United States follows a different set of rules for medical education. The professional qualification of Doctor of Medicine (MD) is only awarded at the Doctoral level. Students can take pre-medical Bachelor’s degree programs, although these are academic, non-professional programs. There are currently no medical degree programs that require just the completion of High School for admission, so it is not likely that one would find any medical programs offered at the undergraduate level. In fact, medical education is not offered at the Bachelor or Master’s level in the United States. If the US followed the Bologna Process, medical education would only exist at the Third Cycle level.
When pairing Serbian medical education alongside US medical education, the two are almost uncommon. Even though the professional qualification of Doctor of Medicine exists in both countries, the level of this qualification is not alike. Factors such as the level of qualification should be taken into consideration when applying for programs at schools in other countries.