What does Higher Education entail in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands distinguishes between two types of higher education: regular university education (Dutch acronym: wo) and university of applied sciences (Dutch acronym: hbo). After completing your secondary education, you may enrol at institutions of higher education.
Regular university education
Regular university education is offered at universities and primarily focuses on (the conduction of) scientific research. Regular university education prepares you for scientific practice. Generally, a bachelor degree at the university takes three years. After attaining a bachelor degree, one may apply to a graduate programme. Generally, a graduate programme takes either one or two years.
University of applied sciences
Education in applied sciences is provided at universities of applied sciences (Dutch: Hogeschool), and this type of education is primarily focused on the application of scientific research on society and the business sector. In contrast with regular university education, higher professional education concentrates on the acquisition of professional skills that are needed for occupational practice. A bachelor degree in applied sciences usually takes four years, after which most students move on to the labour market. However, universities of applied sciences may also offer master programmes, which generally last a year.
Associate Degree (AD)
The Associate Degree (AD) is a new type of degree in the Netherlands offered by universities of applied sciences. It comprises a two-year programmes that, in terms of level, ranges between mbo4 (the highest level within vocational education) and hbo. An AD is an officially recognized degree and certificate. An AD is primarily meant for mbo 4-graduates and those in the labour market that wish to get a higher education. The same admission requirements pertain to an AD as to a bachelor degree in applied sciences. Once you completed your AD, you may still complete the full bachelor programmes. Proceedings regarding an AD can be found in your institute’s regulations on education and examination, as well as whether or not binding study advice will be provided in the first year. Most of the programmes take place at hbo-institutions in order to boost familiarity with applied sciences. After attaining your AD degree, you may directly enter the labour market or proceed to continue an hbo-bachelor programme.