Higher education in the Netherlands is known for its international approach and its high quality. The country has one of the largest offers of English-taught university courses in continental Europe, making studying in the Netherlands very interesting for expats.
Dutch higher education explained
After completing the HAVO or VWO, students can continue studying in the Netherlands at either a research university or a university of applied sciences to get a bachelor’s degree (HBO or WO), Master’s degree or doctoral degree.
Do you want to know more? Check out our section about higher education in the Netherlands.
Tuition fees & education costs of higher education in the Netherlands
Higher education in the Netherlands is not free, however, it is subsidised by the Dutch government, making it affordable for Dutch students and also fairly accessible for international students. Learn more about tuition fees and higher education costs in the Netherlands.
Scholarships for international students studying in the Netherlands
There are many different scholarships available for expats, including the Holland Scholarship and the Erasmus programme.
Academic calendar for Dutch universities
The academic year for Dutch universities and hogescholen starts in September and runs through to the end of June of the following year. The year is divided up into two semesters, with the second starting in early February. There is also a two-week break over Christmas and the New Year.
Dutch degrees & qualifications
The Dutch system does not differ significantly from the European study system and thus, the following degrees are available:
- Bachelor's degrees
- Master's degrees
- Postdoctoral research
Dutch credit system (ECTS scheme)
Just as in most European educational systems, the study workload in the Netherlands is measured in ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits. In case you are not familiar with the ECTS scheme:
- Student workload is the notional time an average student needs to achieve the objectives of a programme. This includes lectures, seminars, assignments, laboratory work, independent study and exams.
- The ECTS credit system is used to compare/evaluate different universities, programmes, courses, modules, dissertations or even students’ qualifications.
- Credits are awarded only after the completion of the course/programme.
University grading in the Netherlands
The Dutch grading system goes from 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding). A 5,5 is the passing minimum. While the grading scale runs from 1 to 10, the marks 1 to 3 and 9 and 10 are not frequently given.
Please, note that desired grades also depend on the type of programme/study you are after. For instance, an average of 7,5 may be more than sufficient for a Master's but not for a PhD.
Entry requirements for universities in the Netherlands
First, you have to contact the international office of the university you are interested in to check whether your degree (obtained in your homeland) is recognised in the Netherlands. Given that your degree is recognised in the Netherlands, you may need:
- A residence permit if you are not an EU / EEA or Swiss citizen.
- Sufficient mastery of English: TOEFL (minimum 550 paper based, 213 computer based), IELTS (minimum average of 6) GMAT or GRE.
- A minimum average of 7 - 7,5 (foreign diploma).
- To be accepted by the university you have applied to. Institutions may reject your application or ask you to take some admission tests if they believe you are not fully qualified.
- A good command of Dutch if you are after a study programme in Dutch. Most universities may also offer you courses in Dutch as a second language so you can prove that you have sufficient mastery of the language.
Required average scores vary depending on university and major. Also, note that for some programmes, the number of applicants is much higher than that of available places - in this case, a selection procedure takes place.