Difficult terms

Competency-focused education? Bachelor’s, Master’s, major, minor? Competency, BSA, ECTS? When you enrol in a degree programme at a university of applied sciences, you’ll suddenly find yourself surrounded by all kinds of new terms and abbreviations. These require an explanation, which we are happy to provide by means of a glossary of terms.

Explanatory glossary of terms


Handy terms originating from the United States that, thanks to the European Union, are now also used in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. This way, everyone in Europe understands the level of education you have completed if you have a Bachelor title. At THUAS, you are always enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree programme. This takes four years at a university of applied sciences and three years at a university. A Master’s degree is an academic qualification comparable to the former doctorandus title. To increase your job opportunities after earning your Bachelor’s degree, you can dig your heels into a new one or two-year study programme at a university of applied sciences or university and earn a Master’s degree.


Your major is the basis of your degree programme, i.e. the ‘main focus’ of your studies. A minor complements your major and lets you give your programme a personal touch. That’s because the minors are optional. You can opt for an advanced minor in which you specialise in your specific discipline or a broadening minor, which is equivalent to taking a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at a completely different field of study. A minor is also useful if you are considering continuing your education and enrolling in a Master’s degree programme at a university of applied sciences or university.


Not only does Europe have the same currency, but also the same credit system at universities of applied sciences. ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer System. One ECTS represents 28 hours of study. During a full-time Bachelor’s degree programme, for example, you earn 60 ECTS a year and 240 ECTS in total.


BSA stands for Binding Study Advice. It is a term that can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. At the end of your first year, an assessment is carried out to determine whether you have enough points to continue studying. The number of points is established in the Education and Examination Rules and Regulations for each degree programme. If a student has too few points, he or she will receive Negative Binding Study Advice and will not be allowed to continue in the degree programme. That sounds very serious - and it is - but it is up to each student to make every effort to obtain Positive Binding Study Advice at the end of the year.

Competency-focused education

This is our way to prepare you thoroughly for your future specialisation. Learning from books and passing exams will get you far, but every occupation also requires a specific attitude and skill set. A social worker, for example, must be a good listener, while an engineer must be meticulous. Thanks to competency-focused education, you not only gain a great deal of knowledge, but also the right qualities to start your career off right.

Brief glossary of terms


Former student of a degree programme in higher education (with diploma)


Website where your degree programme posts handy information and homework

Executive Board

The ‘bosses’ of the university of applied sciences, with the chairperson as the ‘top boss’

Student counsellor

Employee of a university of applied sciences or university who helps students with advice on both private and study-related matters


A study form in which you combine studying and working in your area of specialisation


A collection of degree programmes within the same discipline


A teaching format in which the lecturer explains the curriculum content to a large group of students, usually in a classroom setting


National student union (Dutch Student Union) that represents the interests of students in the Netherlands

Numerus fixus

When only a limited number of students is admitted into a degree programme


Website where you can keep track of your grades and exam registration

Foundation programme

The total of all 60 credits you can earn during your first year  


The resulting product of a scientific study that you write at the end of your studies based on a topic of your choice


A teaching form in which students work on projects individually or in groups under the supervision of the lecturer