The higher education system in the Netherlands is based on a three-cycle degree system, consisting of a Bachelor's, Master's and PhD degree. The Netherlands has a binary higher education system.

Binary in this context means there are two types of higher education: research-oriented and applied-oriented.

  • Applied oriented education is offered by universities of applied sciences such as THUAS
  • Research-oriented education is traditionally offered by research universities.

The differences between types of university

What is the difference between a research university (WO) and a university of applied sciences (HBO)?

University of applied sciences

A University of Applied Sciences (UAS) is a higher education institution with a focus on preparing students for their future careers. Students at these institutions learn how to apply their theoretical knowledge in the real-world, hence the name “ Applied Sciences”. Work placements and internships in (inter)national companies form an integral and compulsory part of the degree programmes offered at these universities.

Both types of education prepare for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. PhD degrees can only be obtained at research universities.

At THUAS we encourage our students, lecturers and partners to develop into open-minded global citizens – to stand firm in their own convictions and face the world. We realise that our own professional commitment makes a difference and we must work together to develop and apply creative solutions.

THUAS is a hands-on environment where we can develop and innovate as global citizens – to come together to share in development, networking and practice. This is how we plan to shape and change the world we live in, while we develop our own knowledge and skills.

University of applied sciences

Higher applied education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO) is offered by universities of applied sciences (hogescholen)

  • Programmes at universities of applied sciences prepare students for their future careers;
  • Besides theory they also focus on practically oriented education;
  • Both lead to either a bachelor’s or master’s degree;
  • The research at applied sciences institutes tends to be more applied;
  • Close collaboration with the professional field, curricula are designed to accommodate market demand;
  • Solution-oriented, academic and scientific knowledge is used to solve practical problems;
  • More contact hours (e.g. lectures / tutorials) during which course material is taught in a classical setting;
  • A Bachelor's degree in the applied arts and sciences typically requires 240 credits (four years of study); in most cases, graduates obtain a degree indicating the field of study (for example, Bachelor of Engineering, B Eng, or Bachelor of Nursing, B Nursing).
  • At THUAS though we also offer many three year bachelor programmes but which have higher entrance requirements. es. Click here for more information about the admission requirements.

Most graduates find a job within the first three months of graduating. Others continue with a masters programme either in the Netherlands, their home country or somewhere else. THUAS alumni are welcome at masters programmes across the world. If they wish to continue their studies with a masters degree in a specific country or university we do suggest that you enquire with them about the transferability of your THUAS bachelors degree and if there are any special requirements or restrictions in place they should be aware of.

If, after completing a bachelor’s degree at a university of applied sciences, you wish to pursue a master’s degree at a research university in The Netherlands, you may be required to complete a bridging or pre masters course first.

Research university

Research-oriented education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO) is traditionally offered by research universities (universiteiten).

  • Programmes at research universities focus on theoretical aspects of the field of study;
  • Prepares students for undertaking independent research;
  • Lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. At research universities you can also pursue a PhD degree;
  • Fewer contact hours and more course material to study independently;
  • A Bachelor's program at a research university requires the completion of 180 credits (three years of study) and graduates obtain the degree of Bachelor of Arts, of Science, or of Laws (BA/BSc/LLB), depending on the discipline;
  • Prepares students for undertaking independent research.

Study degree types at THUAS


Full-time (ft)

Full-time students attend lectures or tutorials during the daytime. This is a ‘full-time’ job. The full-time programmes usually take 4 years, although it is sometimes possible to enrol in an accelerated 3-year programme, depending on your previous education.

Dual (du)

With a dual degree programme, you combine studying and working. You are employed by a company or organisation and receive a salary. At the same time, you are enrolled in a degree programme. In other words, you combine working and studying. In most cases, you are required to have relevant employment in order to enroll. The dual programmes take 4 to 4.5 years, although it is sometimes possible to enrol in an accelerated programme, depending on your previous education.

Part-time (pt)

Part-time students usually attend lectures or tutorials one or two evenings a week, sometimes during the daytime. In addition to attending classes at the university, you also spend 10 to 15 hours a week on independent study. The part-time programmes take an average of 4 years. As a part-time student, you combine your studies with a job, where you can apply what you have learned directly in practice. In most cases, you are required to have work experience before you can enroll in the programme.

Three-year programmes

Pre-university education students have the possibility to complete a number of our Bachelor’s degree programmes in 3 years, instead of the usual 4.


You cannot enroll in a Master’s programme until you have completed a Bachelor’s programme. A Master’s (at a university of applied sciences) is an occupation-oriented degree programme with a direct link to practice. There are full-time Master’s, which take 1 year, and 2-year part-time variants in which you combine studying and working. After graduating, you are awarded the Master’s degree and are able to solve complex issues facing organisations.

Professional course

A professional course is a practice-oriented course at university of applied sciences level that gives you a more in-depth understanding of a particular subject. You can enroll in a professional course if you have completed a degree programme at a university of applied sciences. Most participants are between the ages of 30 and 45 years. The courses last from several months to the maximum of a year. On successful completion, you will be awarded a certificate, but not a degree.
See the list of degree programmes for all programmes taught at THUAS.


The Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) accredits study programmes offered by Dutch higher education institutions. All international bachelors and masters programmes offered by The Hague University of Applied Sciences are recognised by NVAO.