A license is an academic degree. Originally, in order to teach at a university, one needed this degree which, according to its title, gave the bearer a license to teach. The name survived despite the fact that nowadays a doctorate is typically needed in order to teach at a university. A person who holds a license is called a licentiate.
In Sweden, Finland, and in some other European university systems, a license or ‘Licentiate’ is a postgraduate degree between the master’s degree and the doctorate. The Licentiate is a popular choice in those countries where a full doctoral degree would take five or more years to achieve.
In some other major countries, such as France, or Belgium or Poland, a license is achieved before the master’s degree (it takes 3 years of studies to become licentiate and 2 additional years to become Master) in France, while in Belgium the license takes 4 years while the master itself takes 2 more years. In Switzerland, a license is a 4-year degree then there is a DEA degree which is equivalent to the Master’s degree. In Portugal, before the Bologna process, students would become licentiates after 5 years of studies (4 years in particular cases like Marketing, Management, etc.; and 6 years for Medicine). However, since the adoption of the Bologna Process engineering degrees in Portugal were changed from a 5 year license to a 3 year license followed by 2 years for the MSc: Not having the MSc doesn’t confer accreditation by the Ordem dos Engenheiros)