What's the difference between HBO and WO?

What type of degree programme should you choose?

It is very important to make a choice that suits you. On this page, we will inform you about the differences between a degree from a university of applied sciences (hbo) and a degree of an academic university (wo).

In the Netherlands, we have two different bachelor's degrees.The Bachelor's degrees from a university of applied sciences (hbo) and an academic university (wo) are equal in value, but there are also differences:

  • Hbo degree programmes have a professional orientation. Wo degree programmes have an academic orientation.
  • Hbo Bachelor's programmes take four years (240 ECTS). Wo Bachelor's programmes take three years (180 ECTS).
  • The minimum admissions requirement for an hbo Bachelor's programme is a diploma at Dutch mbo level 4 (senior secondary vocational education) or Dutch havo (higher general secondary education). For wo Bachelor's programmes, this is a diploma at Dutch vwo level (pre-university secondary education) or an hbo first-year diploma (propaedeutical year).

Hbo Bachelor's degrees do not grant access to a related Master's programme at a Dutch academic university directly. It is sometimes necessary to follow a pre-master's programme at an academic university to upgrade your knowledge and skills to the right level.

Different routes after high school

Please note: Sometimes the flow options are limited, so make sure you are well informed.

After your university bachelor's you are not yet ready for the labor market and you can choose a master's programme (which takes 1, 2 or 3 years). After your HBO bachelor's degree, you can apply for a job or continue your studies for a master's degree at a university of applied sciences or university. If you want this, you have to follow a 'pre-master'. This includes, for example, academic skills and research skills to prepare you for the university master's degree.

If you are interested in studying at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, please watch this video