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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
First-cycle programmes


7.Higher education

7.2First-cycle programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023


Bachelor's and master's degrees

All HBO and university 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 four years, university bachelor's programmes three. A master's degree programme takes up to two years, while master's programmes in engineering can last longer.

Institutions for higher professional education and universities should better respond to the changing needs of the students and the labor market. For this purpose the government made a legislation: The law ‘Quality in diversity in Higer Education’(Wet Kwaliteit in verscheidenheid hoger onderwijs).

Broad bachelorstudies

Institutions for higher professional education and universities can experiment with merging existing programs, to create a broad bachelor. Within this broad bachelor students can choose their own pathway or accent. This allows students to exchange less often from study. Institutions can go back to the old, more narrow system, within five years if they want it..

Associate degree

An associate degree is a short hbo (higher professional education) study with a strong focus on the labor market. Since September 1, 2013 this program is officially. The aim is to make studying (longer) more attractive. Especially students in vocational education and training (level 4) and people with several years of work experience, increase their chances at the labor market with an associate degree.

This chapter focuses on bachelor studies and Short-Cycle Higher Education.