Types of higher education institutions

There are different types of higher education institutions:

  • universities and university level institutions;
  • colleges and similar institutions;
  • stand-alone institutions.

Universities and university level institutions

Universities and university level institutions are allowed to award degrees. Types of institutions that fall into this category include:

  • central universities;
  • state universities;
  • open universities (for distance learning);
  • private universities;
  • deemed universities (institutions with the status of a university);
  • Institutes of National Importance;
  • institutes under State Legislature Act;
  • other institutions which are allowed to award degrees and are established on the basis of a State/Central Act or an Act of Parliament.

Institutes of National Importance

Institutes of National Importance are institutions known for the high standard of education they provide. They only offer academic study programmes. The Indian government can grant this status to institutions. Well-known examples include the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). Admission to these types of institutions is very competitive. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) website provides an overview of all Institutes of National Importance. In this description, we refer to Institutes of National Importance as top institutions.

Colleges

Colleges and similar institutions offer education that is supervised by a university or university institution. There are 2 types of colleges:

  • university colleges/constituent colleges (established by the university or university institution);
  • affiliated colleges (affiliated with the university or university institution).

Among other things, the university or university institution determines the content of the study programmes and awards the official degrees. Neither type of college is allowed to do that itself. Colleges gain more independence if they are granted the autonomous status.

Autonomous colleges

Both university/constituent colleges and affiliated colleges can be granted autonomous status. Autonomous colleges have greater independence than colleges without this status, for instance in terms of admission requirements and curricula. The university or university institution can apply for the autonomous status on behalf of colleges with the University Grants Commission (UGC). See the UGC website for the conditions.

Autonomous colleges do, however, remain affiliated with the university or university institution, which also still awards the diplomas. The difference is that the name of the college also appears on the diploma.

Stand-alone institutions

Stand-alone institutions are independent institutions that are not affiliated with a university or university institution. They are not permitted to award degrees, so students obtain other qualifications from them. Examples of stand-alone institutions include polytechnics and nursing institutes. For a credential evaluation, it is important to check whether the institution is recognised and accredited. Please see Quality assurance: recognition and accreditation

Admission to higher education

In India, there are 2 types of admission:

  • direct admission to higher education;
  • indirect admission to higher education.

Direct admission to higher education

Direct admission to higher education means that pupils can be admitted to higher education with the diploma they have obtained. However, certain requirements may be imposed concerning the grades obtained and/or the subject cluster. Possession of the following diplomas may entitle pupils to direct admission:

  • (Vocational) Standard XII diploma (or an equivalent);
  • Diploma awarded by a state board (or an equivalent).

Indirect admission to higher education

Indirect admission to higher education means that higher education institutions impose additional admission requirements in addition to the requirements for direct admission. Examples of these are an entrance examination and an interview.

Entrance examinations

National entrance examinations do exist, but states and higher education institutions also administer their own entrance examinations. An overview of national entrance examinations can be found on the website of the National Testing Agency (NTA). Information about entrance examinations for institutions which the NTA administers on their behalf can also be found on the NTA website.

Degrees in higher education

The degrees students can obtain in university education are:

  • Bachelor
  • Master
  • PhD

Bachelor

Institutions can offer different types of bachelor degree programmes:

  • pass bachelor
  • honours bachelor
  • professional bachelor
  • postgraduate bachelor

Pass bachelor

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Content: usually English, a modern Indian language and 3 arts electives (e.g. humanities and visual arts), science (e.g. chemistry, physics and mathematics) of commerce (e.g. business administration, accountancy, economics); no thesis.
  • Admission requirements: a Standard XII diploma (or an equivalent), often with additional requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. An institution can also consider another diploma sufficient for admission.
  • Diploma: Bachelor of Arts (Pass), Bachelor of Science (Pass), Bachelor of Commerce (Pass).  Instead of 'Pass' the term 'General' is also used.

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Arts (Pass)/Bachelor of Science (Pass) is comparable to 2 years of a 3-year WO bachelor’s degree programme.

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Commerce (Pass) is comparable to 3 years of a 4-year HBO bachelor’s degree programme.

Honours bachelor

  • Duration: usually 3 years.
  • Content: a specialisation within the discipline of the arts (e.g. English language and literature or visual arts) or science (e.g. chemistry or biology) or subjects related to the discipline of commerce (with more theory and/or specialisation than the pass bachelor’s degree); sometimes includes a thesis or final project.
  • Admission requirements: a Standard XII diploma (or an equivalent), often with additional requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. Usually, higher grades are required than for admission to the pass bachelor’s programme. An institution can also consider another diploma sufficient for admission. Diploma: Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Bachelor of Science (Honours), Bachelor of Commerce (Honours).

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours)/Bachelor of Science (Honours) is comparable to 2 years of a 3-year WO bachelor’s degree programme.

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) is comparable to an HBO or WO bachelor’s degree.

Please note: in terms of level, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) or Bachelor of Science (Honours) is sometimes comparable to a WO bachelor's degree. This is the case if the diploma was obtained with at least first class/division and awarded by a top institution. This does not always apply to a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours).

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours)/Bachelor of Science (Honours) with at least first class/division awarded by a top institution is comparable to a WO bachelor’s degree.

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) with at least first class/division awarded by a top institution is comparable to an HBO or WO bachelor's degree.

Professional bachelor

  • Duration: 3 to 5½  years.
  • Content: lectures, often includes practicals and/or an internship and sometimes a thesis or final project.
  • Admission requirements: a Standard XII diploma (or an equivalent), often with additional requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. An institution can also consider another diploma sufficient for admission.
  • Diploma: Bachelor, for instance a Bachelor of Engineering (BE/BEng), Bachelor of Technology (BTech), Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Technology is comparable to an HBO bachelor’s degree.

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Technology with at least first class/division awarded by a top institution is comparable to an HBO or WO bachelor’s degree.

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) is comparable to a WO bachelor’s degree.

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) is comparable to a WO bachelor’s degree

In terms of level, a Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) is comparable to 3 years of a 4-year HBO bachelor’s degree programme.

Please note: some professional bachelor’s programmes, such as the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), vary from one institution to the next in terms of duration and content. Even within an institution, there are different variants of a BBA (or other professional bachelor’s programmes). We therefore compare some BBAs with 3 years of higher professional education and other BBAs with an HBO or WO bachelor's degree. 

Postgraduate bachelor

  • Duration: 1-3 years. A teacher-training programme (Bachelor of Education) usually lasts 1 year. For the study of law, both a postgraduate bachelor’s programme (3 years) and a professional bachelor’s programme (5 years) exist. Both lead to the same diploma (in terms of level), the Bachelor of Laws. The Library and Information Science study programme always lasts 1 year.
  • Content: the teacher-training programme is usually aimed at teaching 2 school subjects and the curriculum consists of educational subjects, education theory and teaching methods. Students do an internship, but do not write a thesis. With law, the emphasis is on the theory, but students usually do not write a thesis. Library and Information Science is a combination of (practice-oriented) theory and practicals (no thesis).
  • Admission requirements: a bachelor’s degree, often with certain grade average.
  • Diploma: Bachelor of Education (Bed), Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS).

    In terms of level, a Bachelor of Education is comparable to a WO bachelor’s degree (with an educational minor) or an HBO bachelor’s degree.

    In terms of level, a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) is comparable to a WO bachelor’s degree.

    Master

    Institutions can offer different types of master’s programmes:

    • general master
    • professional master
    • dual/integrated master
    • Master of Philosophy

    General master

    • Duration: usually 2 years.
    • Content: subjects in the field of science, arts or commerce, sometimes an internship and usually no thesis. In many cases, little or no attention is given to academic research methods.
    • Admission requirements: a bachelor’s degree, which can also be in a non-relevant field.The admission requirements for students holding an honours bachelor’s degree are less strict than for those holding a pass bachelor’s degree: students holding a pass bachelor’s degree are sometimes required to sit an entrance examination and/or to have obtained the pass bachelor’s degree with a higher average grade.
    • Diploma: Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Commerce.

    In terms of level, a general master is comparable to an HBO master’s degree or a 1-year WO master’s degree.

    Professional master

    • Duration: 1-2 years, or 3 years (Master of Computer Applications).
    • Content: subjects in the area of the chosen specialisation, sometimes an internship and sometimes a thesis or research project.
    • Admission requirements: a bachelor’s degree, usually in a relevant field.
    • Diploma: Master, for instance Master of Business Administration, Master of Computer Applications, Master of Engineering, Master of Social Work, Doctor of Medicine.

    In terms of level, a professional master is comparable to an HBO master’s degree or a (1-year) WO master’s degree.

    Dual/integrated master

    • Duration: 5 years.
    • Content: a combined bachelor's and master's degree programme. Subjects in the chosen specialisation, sometimes an internship and sometimes a thesis or research project.
    • Admission requirements: a Standard XII diploma (or an equivalent), often with additional requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. An institution can also consider another diploma sufficient for admission.
    • Diploma: Bachelor + Master, for instance Bachelor of Engineering + Master of Engineering, Bachelor of Science + Master of Science.

    In terms of level, a dual/integrated master is comparable to an HBO master’s degree or a (1-year) WO master’s degree.

    Master of Philosophy

    • Duration: usually 1 year.
    • Content: research-oriented education and a thesis.
    • Admission requirements: a master’s degree, often with a certain average grade and/or an entrance examination.
    • Diploma: Master of Philosophy.

    In terms of level, a Master of Philosophy is comparable to a WO master’s degree.

     

    PhD

    • Duration: usually 5 years.
    • Content: academic research and a thesis, in some cases several subjects with regard to the research specialisation as well.
    • Admission requirements: in some cases a bachelor’s degree, usually a master’s degree, often with a certain average grade and an entrance examination. For some study programmes, students must first obtain a Master of Philosophy.
    • Diploma: Doctor of Philosophy.

    Other diplomas in higher education

    Stand-alone institutions fall under non-university education. These institutions are not affiliated with a university or a university-level institution. They are not permitted to award bachelor’s or other degrees. Students are awarded a different kind of diploma on completion of their study programme.

    Types of study programmes

    Many study programmes offered by non-university institutions prepare students for medical or technical professions. In addition, a variety of study programmes are offered in business administration and management. These can differ considerably from each other in terms of admission requirements, duration, content and transfer entitlements. As a result, the levels of the diplomas also vary. We describe 2 common types below:

    • Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery 
    • Post Graduate Diploma

    Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery

    • Duration: 3 years.
    • Content: subjects in the area of nursing and midwifery, and internships, no academic research methods or a thesis.
    • Admission requirements: a Standard XII diploma (or an equivalent), often with additional requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades.
    • Diploma: Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery, awarded by a State Board of Nursing and Midwifery (or an equivalent).

    In terms of level, a Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery awarded by a State Board of Nursing and Midwifery (or an equivalent) is comparable to 2 years of a 4-year HBO bachelor’s degree programme.

    Post Graduate Diploma 

    • Duration: 1-2 years.
    • Content: subjects in the area of the chosen specialisation (often business administration and management). In some cases, students also take 1 or 2 subjects on academic research methods. They usually do not write a thesis.
    • Admission requirements: a bachelor’s degree (may be in a non-relevant field of study), usually with a certain average grade and sometimes an entrance examination.
    • Diploma: Post Graduate Diploma + specialisation, for instance Post Graduate Diploma in Management.

    In terms of level, a Post Graduate Diploma is usually comparable to a post-HBO qualification or an HBO master’s degree.

    Diploma awarded by a board

    In non-university education, students sometimes sit examinations administered by a state board (or an equivalent). They are then awarded a diploma by that board and not by the educational institution itself. For points for attention, please see board examinations.