Dutch educational system

When you come to the Netherlands to study, many things will be different than they are in your home country: climate, lifestyle, traffic, food and religion for example. In addition, you may find that the Dutch grading system also differs from the system you are used to. To help you know what to expect, we have listed some information about the Dutch educational system.

Dutch grading system

A student’s workload is measured in ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits. According to Dutch law, 1 credit represents 28 hours of work and 60 credits represents one year of full-time study.

The assessment system in the Netherlands consists of marks from 1 (very bad) to 10 (outstanding). The marks 1 to 3, 9 and 10 are seldom given. A minimum score of 6 is required to pass a course. For marks with one decimal point, 5.5 is the minimum pass mark. For the programme as a whole, an average mark of 8.25 or higher entitles the student to a pass cum laude (with distinction).

Comparing your marks

Several countries use grading systems that appear similar to the one used in the Netherlands. One example is the 1-100 system. However, it would be inaccurate to compare a 90-100 grade in such a system with a 10 in the Dutch system, or an 80-90 with a 9, and so on. An 80 in China, for example, is not considered a good grade since most grades in higher education in China are between 80 and 100. In the Netherlands, however, an 8 is a very good grade, since most grades are between 6 and 8.

For your reference, based on an international comparison of grading systems 2006-2009, the conversion between Dutch and international grades is as follows:

UK to Dutch grades:

US to Dutch grades:

  • A+ = 9-10
  • A = 8-8.5
  • B+ = 7.5
  • B = 7
  • C+ = 6.5
  • C/D = 5.5-6.0
  • F = 5 or lower
  • A+ = 8.5-10
  • A = 8
  • A/A- = 7.5
  • B+ = 7
  • B = 6.5
  • B-/C = 6.0
  • D = 5.5
  • F = 5 or lower


Dutch teaching methods

Respect for each individual’s opinions and convictions is a national virtue. This is the foundation of the teaching method used in Dutch educational institutions. The teaching style can be described as interactive and student-centred, providing students with the attention and freedom they need to develop their own opinions and creativity in applying their newly acquired knowledge.

Problem-based learning

The Netherlands has received international acclaim for its groundbreaking problem-based learning system, which trains students to analyse and solve practical problems independently through emphasis on self-study and self-discipline. A large part of all study programmes is dedicated to writing papers, working in groups to analyse and solve specific problems, acquiring practical work experience through internships, and conducting experiments in laboratories.

Interaction in class

Interaction in class is highly appreciated. Students are expected to think about the knowledge that is presented to them and develop and express their own opinions. They should not be passive, but ask questions and be critical of what lecturers or fellow students say.

Learning the language

Working together in an international classroom should pose no problems, as everyone speaks English. Nevertheless, it would be beneficial to be able to mingle in conversations in Dutch and contribute to discussions in Dutch between local classmates. This may make working in groups even more interesting and meaningful.