Tertiary (higher) education in the Netherlands is made up of hoger beroepsonderwijs – HBO (higher vocational education) and wetenschappelijk onderwijs – WO (scientific/academic education). These 2 forms of education are provided by hogescholen (polytechnics / universities of applied science) and universities respectively.
Bachelor's and master's degrees
All HBO and WO courses fall under the bachelor-master system. Bachelor's degree programmes are broader, while master's degree programmes lead to specialisation in a chosen field. HBO bachelor's degree programmes take 4 years, WO bachelor's programmes 3 years. A master's degree programme takes up to 2 years, while master's programmes in engineering can last longer.
Higher vocational education (HBO)
The 43 HBO institutions in the Netherlands together offer 200 programmes in a wide range of disciplines. They provide theoretical and practical training for occupations for which a higher vocational qualification is either required or useful. Graduates find employment in various fields, including trade and industry, social services, health care and the public sector.
University education (WO)
Universities combine academic research and teaching. University education focuses on training in academic disciplines, the independent pursuit of scholarship and the application of scholarly knowledge in the context of a profession and aims to improve understanding of the phenomena studied in the various disciplines and generate new knowledge.
The Netherlands has 13 universities, including 3 universities of technology. Wageningen University is financed by the Ministerie van Economische Zaken en Klimaat – EZK (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation) because of its agricultural roots.