About the Dutch education system

After primary (4-12 years old) and secondary (13-18 years old) education, Dutch students can continue on to vocational, professional or research based (university) education. These levels can sometimes be confusing, so we've broken it down for you.

Vocational education (mbo)

A vocational course or mbo-course prepares you for a specific trade: think of electrician, mason, optician, fashion retailer or baker. Dutch mbo schools offer over 500 different courses that take up to four years of study. The PThU does not offer vocational education.

Higher professional education (hbo)

Schools that offer higher professional or hbo programmes are sometimes referred to as 'universities of applied sciences'. However, these are not universities in the sense that they are research oriented education. Rather, hbo programmes prepare you for a profession, such as journalist, pharmacist, real estate agent, lab technician or IT consultant. Hbo programmes are divided according to the bachelor-master system. Hbo-bachelor programmes on average take around four years of study, hbo-master programmes take one or two years of study. The PThU does not offer higher professional education.

Research oriented education (university)

Research oriented education does not prepare you for a profession, but rather focuses on developing your research and analytical skills. However, some university programmes do prepare for a vocation, such as a university education in medicine (doctor) or a university education in theology (minister). Research oriented education is divided according to the bachelor-master system. A university bachelor takes on average three years, after which you will have a bachelor's degree in your field of study. After obtaining your bachelor's, you can follow a university master of one or two years to gain a master's degree in your field. Following that, you can also opt to obtain a PhD, the highest degree in the Dutch education system. Obtaining a PhD takes four years, on average.

The PThU is an institute for research oriented education - simply put, a university in the Dutch sense of the word. We offer bachelor's and master's degrees as wel as PhD's:

  • bachelor's degree in Theology (three-year, Dutch-language bachelor)
  • master's degree in Theology that leads to becoming a minister in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (three-year, Dutch-language master)
  • master's degree in Theology (one-year, English-language master)

Want to learn more about the Dutch education system? Check out the website of the Dutch Education Desk (Onderwijsloket).


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