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Higher education in the Netherlands is organised around a 3 cycle degree system, consisting of: 

  1. bachelor’s,
  2. master’s and
  3. PhD degrees.

Binary system

Dutch higher education has a binary system, which means that you can choose between 2 types of education:

  1. professional higher education programmes offered primarily by universities of applied sciences, and
  2. research-oriented degree programmes offered primarily by research universities

HAS University of Applied Sciences offers professional higher education programmes.

The difference between...

University of applied sciences

A university of applied sciences (in Dutch:'hogeschool') offers programmes that focus on the practical application of arts and sciences.

Getting practical work experience through internships (in the Netherlands and abroad) is an important part of the professional studyprogrammes offered at these institutions.

  • Professional / practical
  • 4-year bachelor (with 1 year supervised practical training)
  • Competency-based
  • 450,000 students
The difference between...

Research university

A research university is mainly responsible for offering research-oriented programmes in an academic setting.

Many programmes at research universities also have a professional component and most graduates actually find work outside the research community.

  • Scientific / theoretical
  • 3-year bachelor (no practical training)
  • Modular
  • 260,000 students
In the Netherlands


The video explains the Dutch education system, from primary education to higher education and research.
Video supplied by Nuffic

Would you like to compare your own education system with the Dutch education system?
Check out this Nuffic tool about foreign education systems.