Higher education in Pakistan

Unlike Dutch higher education, Pakistani higher education is not divided into and . Pakistani higher education institutions can offer both types of education. This often means that, for each diploma, we have to determine whether it is HBO or WO. Below, we describe the diplomas that we often see.

Pass bachelor

During a pass bachelor, student do not specialise in a certain subject, but they choose a track. For example, they choose the science track with the electives biology, mathematics and chemistry. They do not specialise in 1 of these subjects.

  • Duration: 2 years.
  • Study hours: 60-72 credit hours.
  • Content: usually, the compulsory subjects are English, Urdu and Pakistan studies. Students take 3 electives in 1 of the following tracks: arts, science, commerce, business administration or technology. They do not write a thesis. In technology, students study technical subjects and undergo 1 year of practical training (industrial training).
  • Admission requirements: a Higher Secondary School Certificate or Intermediate School Certificate, sometimes with extra requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. An institution may also accept other qualifications, such as the Diploma of Associate Engineer.
  • Diploma: Bachelor of Arts (Pass), Bachelor of Science (Pass), Bachelor of Business Administration (Pass), Bachelor of Commerce (Pass), Bachelor of Technology (Pass).

We compare a Bachelor of Arts (Pass) to a VWO diploma.

We compare a Bachelor of Science (Pass) to a VWO diploma.

We compare a Bachelor of Business Administration (Pass) to 2 years of HBO or an associate degree.

We compare a Bachelor of Commerce (Pass) to 2 years of HBO or an associate degree.

We compare a Bachelor of Technology (Pass) to 2 years of HBO or an associate degree.

Honours bachelor

During an honours bachelor, students specialise in a certain field. They only take chemistry courses, for example. This is different from the pass bachelor. In that case, students do not specialise.

  • Duration: usually 3 years, sometimes 4 years.
  • Study hours: 90-140 credit hours.
  • Content: usually, students specialise in 1 of these tracks: arts, science, commerce, business administration or technology. Sometimes students write a thesis or do a graduation project.
  • Admission requirements: a Higher Secondary School Certificate or Intermediate School Certificate, often with extra requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. An institution may also accept other qualifications, such as the Diploma of Associate Engineer.
  • Diploma: Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours), Bachelor of Commerce (Honours), Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Bachelor of Technology (Honours). Please note: there are also other honours bachelors.

We compare a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) to 3 years of HBO or 1 year of WO. This depends on the content and aim of the study programme.

We compare a 3-year Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) to 3 years of HBO.

We compare a 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) to an HBO bachelor’s degree.

We compare a 3-year Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) to 3 years of HBO.

We compare a 4-year Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) to an HBO bachelor’s degree.

We compare a Bachelor of Science (Honours) to 3 years of HBO or 1 year of WO. This depends on the content and aim of the study programme.

We compare a Bachelor of Technology (Honours) to an HBO bachelor’s degree.

Professional bachelor

There are various professional bachelors in Pakistan. Professional bachelors often prepare students for a certain profession.

  • Duration: usually 5 years (medical study programmes), sometimes 4 years (other study programmes).
  • Study hours: 124-170 credit hours.
  • Content: students attend lectures. They often do practicals and/or an internship. Sometimes they write a thesis or do a graduation project.
  • Admission requirements: a Higher Secondary School Certificate or Intermediate School Certificate, often with extra requirements, such as certain subjects and/or grades. An institution may also accept other diplomas, such as the Diploma of Associate Engineer.
  • Diploma: Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Doctor of Pharmacy (DPharm), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Bachelor of Engineering (BE) and Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.). Please note: there are also other professional bachelors.

We compare a 4-year professional bachelor to an HBO bachelor’s degree or 2 years of WO. This depends on the content of the study programme.

We compare a 5-year professional bachelor to a WO bachelor’s degree.

Postgraduate bachelor

After completing a bachelor’s programme, students can continue studying for a postgraduate bachelor. We often see the following 2 postgraduate bachelors:

  • Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.);
  • Bachelor of Education.

Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)

If students complete a study programme in law after a pass bachelor, they receive a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.).

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Content: law. The study programme is mostly about theory, but students usually do not write a thesis.
  • Admission requirements: a pass bachelor, sometimes with extra requirements, such as certain grades.
  • Diploma: Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.).

We compare a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) to a WO bachelor’s degree.

Please note: there is also a professional bachelor in law. It has a duration of 5 years and students do not need a pass bachelor for admission. Both the postgraduate bachelor and professional bachelor in law lead to the same diploma (in terms of level), the Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.).

Bachelor of Education

If students complete a teacher training programme after a pass bachelor, they receive a Bachelor of Education.

  • Duration: 1 year or 1½ years.
  • Content: a teacher training programme, usually aimed at teaching 2 school subjects. Students study educational subjects, such as pedagogy and education methods. They also do an internship, but do not write a thesis.
  • Admission requirements: a pass bachelor, sometimes with extra requirements, such as certain grades.
  • Diploma: Bachelor of Education (BEd).

The level of a Bachelor of Education varies. Please contact us for a credential evaluation.

Please note: there are also teacher training programmes for honours bachelors and professional bachelors. These study programmes take longer to complete than the postgraduate bachelor. They usually have a duration of 4 years. You can recognise this by the number of credits hours that students must obtain for the diploma. Students also receive a different diploma at the end of an honours bachelor, for example a Bachelor of Education (Honours) or a Bachelor of Science Education.

Postgraduate Diploma

It is not only possible to obtain degrees in Pakistani higher education, such as bachelors or masters. Students can also obtain a different kind of diploma on completion of some study programme. An example is the Postgraduate Diploma.

  • Duration: usually 1 year.
  • 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: these depend on the study programme and educational institution. Often a pass bachelor with a certain average grade is required, sometimes an entrance exam as well. Previous education may often be in a non-relevant field of study.
  • Diploma: Postgraduate Diploma in + field of study, for example Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration.

The level of a Postgraduate Diploma varies. Please contact us for a credential evaluation.

Master with a pass or honours bachelor as an admission requirement

It is important to check the admission requirements of a master. This gives you information about the level of the study programme. For admission to some master’s programmes, students need a pass bachelor or honours bachelor. You can find information about the admission requirements on the website of the Pakistani higher education institution. You cannot tell from the name of the diploma.

  • Duration: 1 to 2 years.
  • Study hours: 30-60 credit hours.
  • Content: usually subjects in arts, science, commerce, business administration or technology. Sometimes students do an internship, often they do not write a thesis. Students usually do not learn how to carry out academic research.
  • Admission requirements: a pass bachelor or honours bachelor with Division II results. Sometimes the pass or honours bachelor needs to have been obtained in a specific field of study.
  • Diploma: Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Commerce and Master of Business Administration. Please note: there are also other master’s degrees.

The level of a master with a pass or honours bachelor as an admission requirement varies. Please contact us for a credential evaluation.

Master with a 4-year bachelor’s degree as an admission requirement

It is important to check the admission requirements of a master. This gives you information about the level of the study programme. For admission to some master’s programmes, students need a 4-year bachelor’s degree. You can find information about the admission requirements on the website of the Pakistani higher education institution. You cannot tell from the name of the diploma.

  • Duration: 1½ to 2 years.
  • Study hours: 30-60 credit hours.
  • Content: course work and sometimes research and/or a thesis as well.
  • Admission requirements: a 4-year bachelor’s degree, usually in a relevant field of study and with at least Division II results.
  • Diploma: Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Engineering and Master of Business Administration. Please note: there are also other master’s degrees.

The level of a master with a 4-year bachelor’s degree as an admission requirement varies. Please contact us for a credential evaluation.

Master of Philosophy

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is a research master. Please note: in this context, the term ‘philosophy’ does not refer to any association of the programme with the study of philosophy, but rather to its foundation in research. MPhil programmes may be found in any branch of studies.

  • Duration: 2 years.
  • Study hours: at least 36 credit hours.
  • Content: usually 1 year of coursework, 1 year of research and writing a thesis.
  • Admission requirements: 4 years of higher education, often in a relevant field of study. This can be a 4-year bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree after a pass or honours bachelor. Often students need a certain average grade for admission as well.
  • Diploma: Master of Philosophy.

We compare a Master of Philosophy to a 1-year WO master’s degree.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a doctorate from a higher education institution. Usually, candidates continue to study in the field of study of their master’s degree.

  • Duration: 3 to 5 years.
  • Study hours: at least 18 credit hours.
  • Content: research and a dissertation, in some cases several subjects with regard to the research specialisation as well.
  • Admission requirements: usually a master, often with a certain average grade and an entrance exam. For some study programmes, students must first obtain a Master of Philosophy.
  • Diploma: Doctor of Philosophy.

Types of higher education institutions

Higher education institutions in Pakistan can offer both higher professional education and research-oriented higher education. There are different types of higher education institutions:

  • universities; and
  • degree-awarding institutions.

Universities

Universities are allowed to award degrees, for example a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Students can also obtain other diplomas, such as a postgraduate diploma. Some universities offer study programmes in various fields of study, other universities are more specialised. For example, there are specialised universities that only offer technical study programmes.

Please note: universities often supervise various educational institutions. These supervised institutions are called affiliated colleges. Students who study at an affiliated college receive their degree or diploma from the university.

Degree-awarding institutions

Degree-awarding institutions are also allowed to award degrees. Just like universities, they can offer study programmes for degrees and other diplomas. Degree-awarding institutions are often called ‘institutes’ or ‘colleges’.

All Pakistani higher education institutions can be public or private.