Dutch Masters degrees are second-cycle qualifications. This means they are normally completed as postgraduate degrees, after a first-cycle Bachelors (or other undergraduate qualification).
Because the Netherlands is part of the European Higher Education Area, Dutch Masters degrees are awarded using ECTS credits.
Each year of your Masters will normally award 60 credits. This ensures Dutch qualifications are recognised across Europe – and beyond. In most cases your degree will be equivalent to a Masters awarded in the UK, or other country.
Degree types and course structure
Postgraduate courses in the Netherlands typically award an MA (Master of Arts) or MSc (Master of Science). Unlike their equivalents in the UK (and elsewhere) the Dutch MA and MSc may include a substantial research component, particularly when offered as a two-year Masters at a research university.
Universities of applied science tend to award more specialised professional programmes. These are often longer courses, incorporating additional internships, placements and other opportunities for hands-on practical training.
The following table explains Masters degrees within the Dutch university system:
|Masters degrees at Dutch universities
|University of applied science
|Institute for international education
These are guidelines for typical degrees. Make sure to check the details for your specific course.
The Dutch academic year usually runs between September and June, though you'll probably find that the summer holiday period (between June and September) is reserved for internships or for work on a dissertation.
Teaching and assessment
Dutch universities operate a student-centred teaching philosophy with a focus on teamwork and intellectual exchange. This is even more important on most Masters programmes, which will expect and encourage you to put forward and discuss your own ideas with tutors and peers.
The standard grading system in the Netherlands follows a ten-point structure, running from 'very poor' at one to 'outstanding' at ten. In practice, most work is awarded a grade between four and eight.
A final grade for your course will be based on the credit weighting of its individual components, including academic modules, practical placements and / or a final research project and dissertation (as relevant).
Masters degrees from the Netherlands are internationally recognised by both employers and academics. In addition, all are accredited by the NVAO (Netherlands and Flemish Accreditation Organisation) to ensure the course content meets recognised standards for both academic and real-world relevance.
You should check that the Masters degree programme you're applying to is accredited by the NVAO to confirm that your postgraduate qualification is recognised outside of the Netherlands.