The Dutch 
education system

The education system in the Netherlands

Higher education in the Netherlands is organized around a three-cycle degree system, consisting of bachelor’s, masters and PhD degrees. Two types of higher education programs are offered: research-oriented degree programs offered primarily by research universities, and professional higher education programs offered primarily by universities of applied sciences.


Globally, the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, and Germany are fuelling growth in the Netherlands by providing thousands of jobs to the Netherlands' highly capable workforce. Our world-class transportation and communications infrastructure, innovative outlook and competitive fiscal climate are also helping to attract investments from some of the biggest names in the business.

Higher education in the Netherlands is offered at two types of institutions: research universities and universities of applied sciences. Research universities include general universities, universities specializing in engineering and agriculture, and the Open University. Universities of applied sciences include general institutions as well as institutions specializing in a specific field such as agriculture, fine and performing arts or teacher training.


Whereas research universities are primarily responsible for offering research-oriented programs, universities of applied sciences are primarily responsible for offering programs of higher professional education, which prepare students for specific professions. These tend to be more practice-oriented than programs offered by research universities.


In this binary, a three-cycle system, bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees are awarded. Short-cycle higher education leading to the associate degree is offered by universities of applied sciences. Degree programs and periods of study are quantified in terms of the ECTS credit system.

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