This guide, an introduction to Dutch research and higher education, serves as a support document for researchers and instructors who are unfamiliar with the Dutch academic setting. It may also provide insight for those who have already been working in Dutch academia for a few years. It was written primarily with new ‘senior’ academic staff in mind, but we hope that postdoctoral and doctoral researchers will also find it useful. The emphasis is on professional challenges and opportunities. Everyday practicalities are covered to a lesser degree; there are other websites and handbooks that provide such information, often in ways that are both useful and entertaining.

Our aim is to offer essential information on Dutch academia: how it relates to Dutch politics and society, what the research and teaching culture is like, and how the funding system and academic protocol are structured. We caution, however, that different academic fields within the Netherlands each have their own idiosyncrasies. We also provide translations of key terms, as well as a list of abbreviations and acronyms.

As you consult this guide, please bear in mind that Dutch academia is a moving target with many dimensions. Institutional settings, funding schemes, rules and regulations concerning promotion, PhD graduation requirements, and a host of other matters are in constant flux. These can differ significantly from one scientific or scholarly domain and institution to the next. Some of the information provided on this website may therefore only apply partly to your own situation, or may even be outdated by the time you read it.

This is a revised version of the guide, updated in 2022 from an original hard copy version that first appeared in 2018. The Young Academy plans to continue to update and revise this online guide at regular intervals. If you have suggestions for improvement, please feel free to share them with us: We wish you every success in taking your first steps in Dutch academia and hope that this guide will help you get started on the right foot!

A note on language use: in this guide we will use English terms and names as much as possible, but will also introduce the corresponding Dutch term (in italics) when useful.


2: Who does what?  ›

Research organisations in the Netherlands

3: What’s in a name?  ›

Degrees and teaching at Dutch universities

4: How do I pay for my research? ›

The structure of Dutch academia

5: What’s the long-term picture? ›

Higher education and research policy 

6: What’s in it for us? ›

Diversity and family support

7: Links and reading ›

Some useful links and reading for newcomers
to Dutch Academia

8: List of abbreviations and acronyms ›


2022 The Young Academy (De Jonge Akademie) 
© Some rights reserved.
Usage and distribution of this work is defined in the Creative Commons License, Attribution 4.0 Netherlands. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

ISBN: 978-90-6984-751-1

The Young Academy
PO Box 19121, NL-1000 GC Amsterdam T+31 (0)20 551 0702

The Young Academy is an independent part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

Text: Raf de Bont, Tatiana Filatova, Jason Hessels, Nathalie Katsonis, Christian Lange

Thanks to: Erik van Sebille and Marie-José van Tol
Illustrations: Rachelle Meyer 
Design & realisation: WAT ontwerpers


Preferred citation: The Young Academy (2022). A beginner’s guide to Dutch academia, Amsterdam