Study System in the Netherlands

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The Netherlands are willing to invest in their successful education system. One of the largest single items in the overall budget is regularly available to the responsible Ministry for Education, Culture and Science. For the future, our neighboring country plans to continuously increase investments in research and development.

International students can also benefit from modern study programs while studying abroad in the Netherlands. The prestigious study system in the Netherlands attracts students from all over the world. Among the foreign students at Dutch universities are mainly students from Germany. No wonder, because compact study programs without numerus clausus and with an international focus promise future-oriented studies.

Quality assurance in the Netherlands

The universities in the Netherlands operate autonomously from the state. The Dutch constitution guarantees them freedom of education, so that many universities are based on religious, political or ideological beliefs. At the same time, accredited universities receive financial support from the state, depending on the size of their student body.

When it comes to the quality of studies, the study system in the Netherlands is based on the European model. In line with the European Framework (EQF), all degrees in the Dutch Quality Framework (NLQF) assign one. This system ranges from level one to level eight. For example, a Bachelor is level six and a Master is level seven. The authority Inspectie van het Onderwijs is responsible for checking the content and formal criteria of the study programs.

The structure of the study system in the Netherlands

The study system in the Netherlands is divided into undergraduate ( Bachelor ) and postgraduate ( Master and PhD ). Since the Bologna reform in 2002, the study system in the Netherlands has been based on European requirements. As in the other EU member states, the country established a study system based on the academic degrees Bachelor, Master and Doctoral degree. This enables international comparability. There is also the country-specific associate degree.

Shorter study stays are also possible for international students at the local educational institutions.

The classic degrees

Bachelor Degree

A bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands usually lasts three years at universities and four years at universities of applied sciences. Internships and a thesis are a common part of the course. At universities of applied sciences, the bachelor’s degree often consists of a major (major) and a minor (minor). With this undergraduate degree, graduates are qualified to start their careers.

Master Degree

Admission to the Master’s degree is possible with a Bachelor’s degree in your pocket. The usual study time for a master’s degree in the Netherlands is between one and two years. The standard period of study varies depending on the subject. Most master’s programs last a year. The technical and natural sciences Masters are more likely to last two years. In addition, there is often the option of completing the master’s full-time or part-time.

The post-initial Master’s does not build on a specific Bachelor Therefore, this program is particularly suitable for graduates with professional experience. Bachelor graduates of hogescholen should note that prior to admission to the Master at a university usually pre-master courses are necessary.

Doctoral Degree (PhD)

Master’s graduates have the opportunity to continue researching at the university. Students in the Netherlands achieve the highest academic degree, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), within four years. With the help of a supervising professor, doctoral candidates write a dissertation based on independent research.

As in Germany, doctoral students are usually employed at the university. In addition to research, they also hold seminars and lectures or supervise the students. A PhD corresponds to level eight of the Dutch quality framework. The NLQF classifies shorter doctoral programs such as the two-year Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) as level seven.

The country-specific degrees

In the Netherlands there is an associate degree at the Hogescholen. The two-year course corresponds to level five of the NLQF and is primarily geared towards the job market. With the help of the associate degree, you can either start your career more quickly or pursue a bachelor’s degree at the Hogeschole. The associate degree is available full-time and part-time. This country-specific qualification has not yet been recognized in Germany, a country that belongs to European Union according to aceinland.

Shorter study stays in the Netherlands

In addition to full courses such as Bachelor or Master, the universities in the Netherlands offer shorter study programs for international students :

  • Semester abroad : students attend courses at a Dutch university for one or two semesters. This is an ideal opportunity to supplement your studies in Germany and gain experience abroad.
  • Summer Sessions : During the lecture-free period in the summer months, some universities in the Netherlands offer summer schools. The courses, lasting several weeks, have a wide range of topics and are a cheap alternative to a longer study visit.
  • Language courses : Some study programs in the Netherlands are held in German or English due to the large number of students. Nevertheless, studying in the Benelux is a good opportunity to learn the national language. Some courses include corresponding language courses in the first semesters, as the course language changes to Dutch during the course of the course.

Study System in the Netherlands

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