Netherlands: Joint programmes and degrees

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Regulatory Framework

Since 1 July 2010 Dutch higher education institutions are allowed to offer joint degrees. The award of a joint degree is not limited to the successful completion of a full joint Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme. It can also pertain to a part of the curriculum offered jointly, such as a specialisation or a specific track within a programme.

National Definitions:

  • Joint programme: A programme offered jointly by different higher education institutions irrespective of the degree (joint, multiple and double) awarded.
  • Joint degree: A recognised degree awarded by higher education institutions that offer the joint programme, attesting the successful completion of this joint programme. It is a single document nationally acknowledged as the recognised award of the joint programme and signed by the competent authorities (rectors, vice-chancellors, ...) of the institutions involved in the joint degree.

See also:

Quality assurance and accreditation

International context

  1. Accreditation and quality assurance of joint programmes is a challenge for both the higher education institutions and the quality assurance agencies. The main apparent difficulty is the fact that the programme is organised by higher education institutions from different higher education systems and that each of these systems have their own systems of external quality assurance. This situation creates a burden for joint programmes that need to meet all the expectations arising from these different (and sometimes contradictory) national contexts and legal requirements.
  2. The European Consortium for Accreditation in higher education (ECA) facilitates the recognition of accreditation decisions across borders through MULTRA. In addition a Coordination Point is set up by ECA to allow joint programmes consortia undergo only one single accreditation procedure instead of multiple national accreditation procedures.

Below, you will find the description of the Dutch national procedures regarding the quality assurance and accreditation of joint programmes and degrees.


It is possible to apply for the accreditation of a joint degree programme in the following situations:

1. Two or more Dutch institutions intend to:

  • award a joint degree after successfull completion of a new joint programme or two or more existing (registered in CROHO) joint programmes;
  • award a joint degree after successfull completion of a jointly offered curriculum within two or more existing (registered in CROHO) joint programmes.
  • the contribution of each institution should be substantial enough to justify a joint degree application.

2. In collaboration with one or more foreign institutions, one or more Dutch institutions intend(s) to:

  • award a joint degree after successfull completion of a new or existing joint programmes;
  • award a joint degree after successfull completion of a jointly offered curriculum within two or more existing joint programmes.
  • the contribution of the Dutch institution(s) should be substantial enough to justify awarding a joint degree.

Grounds for exclusion

A joint degree programme is not possible in the following cases (grounds for exclusion):

  • within The Netherlands, if the intention is to link a joint degree to a combined HBO programme/track (professionally-oriented higher education) and a Dutch WO programme/track (academically-oriented higher education);
  • if the joint programme/track is offered jointly with one or more foreign institutions that is (are) not recognised in their own country or is (are) not entitled to take part in this joint degree programme.

Before an application is submitted, the applying institution(s) is (are) required to ascertain that the aforementioned grounds for exclusion do not occur and that the joint programme/track is offered in accordance with the laws and regulations in the Netherlands and in the other countries involved.

Registration of International students

To proceed with the registration of international students the Dutch institution(s) involved must be registered in the Code of Conduct Register and comply with its provisions. The joint degree can only be awarded to students who have successfully completed the programme or track jointly offered at the institutions involved.

Different assessment joint programme - joint degree

  1. Regular Assessment frameworks for the higher education accreditation system - programme assessment limited/extensive (The Netherlands), plus
  2. protocol for existing joint degree programmes or
  3. protocol for new joint degree programmes.
  • Specific requirements:
    • degree awarding, number of locations (in principle at least 2) and input from Dutch institution(s) (a substantial part);
    • a cooperation agreement between the participating institutions (this is a legal requirement).

See also