The Dutch education & accreditation system

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Research Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences

Higher education in the Netherlands is offered at two types of institutions: research universities ('universiteit' in Dutch) and universities of applied sciences ('hogeschool' in Dutch). HU ('Hogeschool Utrecht') is a university of applied sciences.

There are a few differences between the two types of universities. Universities of applied sciences are primarily responsible for offering programmes of higher professional (vocational) education, which usually prepare you for particular jobs. Therefore, these programmes tend to be more practically oriented than programmes offered by research universities.

This means that in addition to lectures, seminars, projects and independent study, you are required to complete an internship (usually in your third year), as well as a final project or graduation paper in the fourth year.


The higher education system in the Netherlands is based on a three-tier degree system, consisting of Bachelor, Master and PhD. A Bachelor programme consists of a Major and a Minor. PhD tracks are only offered at research universities. HU offers the following:

A Bachelor's programme at a university of applied sciences requires the completion of 240 ECTS credits (four years of study), and graduates obtain a degree indicating the field of study, for example, Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

Major and Minor 

A Bachelor programme consists of your major degree subject (worth a minimum of 120 ECTS credits and a maximum of 150) and your free choice component or minor (30 to 60 ECTS credits).
The major is the compulsory component of the study and examination programme for your chosen degree. The minor is designed to give you the opportunity to personalise your degree by taking an optional programme of your choice, worth at least 30 ECTS credits.

After finishing your Bachelor it is possible to continue your studies by following a Master's programme. If you have done a Pre-Master (a bridging course that prepares students for a Master's programme) you can continue at most institutions without any problems. If you haven't done a Pre-Master, you may need to take an extra, transitional year into consideration.

Accredited Education

In the Netherlands, the standard of higher education is maintained through an accreditation system guaranteeing legal regulation and quality assurance. All programmes at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht are tested and approved by the accreditor, the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that they meet the quality requirements for approved higher education set by the Dutch Ministry for Education, Culture and Science, ensuring you always choose a programme of a high standard.

Besides the accreditation of degree programmes, the Netherlands has a system by which the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science recognises higher education institutions by awarding them the status of either 'funded' or 'approved'. 'Funded' indicates that the institution is financed by the government. 'Approved' means that the institution, although accredited and approved, does not receive government funding and has to rely on its own monetary sources. All of HU's Bachelor programmes are funded.