The Dutch system for higher education

Since 2002, the higher education system in the Netherlands consists of a three-cycle degree system: a Bachelor, Master and PhD degree on university level, and a Bachelor, post-bachelor and Master degree on ‘hogeschool’ (university of applied sciences) level. For admission to a university of applied sciences, a HAVO (five years) diploma is required. For admission to a university, a VWO (six years) diploma is compulsory.

The Netherlands has a binary system of higher education which includes:

  • scientific education, provided by universities
  • higher vocational education, provided by universities of applied sciences ('hogescholen / HBO')

Programmes leading to a Bachelor degree (B) provided by universities of applied sciences take mostly four years (of fulltime studying). Bachelor programmes provided by universities (leading to the BA or BSc degree) take three years (fulltime). Most Master programmes last one year (but some may take two years).

Universities offer Master programmes leading to the MA or MSc degree. Universities of applied sciences can provide Master programmes leading to the Master (M) degree.

Economic and Business Administration programmes, including Accountancy/Accounting, are provided by eight universities, including the University of the Netherlands Antilles, and 21 universities of applied sciences (sixteen public, and five private).

Postgraduate programme

Academic universities organise, among others, postgraduate specialisation programmes in Accountancy (Accounting and Auditing or Accounting and Controlling) and PhD programmes. The final stage of the theoretical RA curriculum is a postgraduate programme. HBO bachelors have the possibility to enroll in university Master programmes after having completed a mandatory (pre-Master) programme to redress deficiencies.

The final stage of the theoretical AA curriculum is a post-bachelor programme provided by universities of applied sciences (entry level: the professional Bachelor in Accountancy or similar). Some of these universities also organise Master programmes that can be entered after having completed the ‘hogeschool’ Bachelor in Accountancy.