Higher education in Syria

Unlike Dutch higher education, Syrian higher education is not divided into and . Syrian 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. On this page, we describe the diplomas that we often see.

Admission to Syrian higher education

In Syria, students have access to higher education with the General Secondary Education Certificate. There are often general admission requirements for students with this diploma:

  • Students who took the scientific specialisation can usually apply for all degree programmes in higher education.
  • Students who took the literary specialisation can only apply for degree programmes in fields such as language, literature, history, economics and law.

Please note: universities can admit students with very good study results for the Vocational Secondary Education Certificate to a bachelor's programme in a similar field of study. However, this does not happen often.

Additional requirements and drawing of lots

Some degree programmes have extra requirements. For example, students must have passed an exam for a second foreign language or another subject.

Degree programmes in Medicine, Dentistry, Architecture and Natural Sciences require good study results for the General Secondary Education Certificate exams. The required results vary from year to year. Sometimes, students also have to take an entrance exam.

If there are too few places for a particular degree programme, students need to draw lots.


  • : 4 years. Exceptions:
    • Study programmes in architecture, dentistry, engineering, , pharmacy or veterinary medicine take 5 years.
    • The study programme in medicine takes 6 years.
  • Content: education focused on research or professional practice. Usually, the 1st year is a preparatory year in which students study general subjects.
  • Admission requirements: the General Secondary Education Certificate. There are additional requirements for some fields of study.
  • Function of the diploma: access to master's programmes or work.
  • Diploma: Bachelor / الإجازة. The name ‘Licence’ is also used. ‘Bachelor’ or ‘Licence’ is always used in combination with the field of study. For example: Bachelor in Economics / الإجازة في الاقتصاد.

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

We compare a Bachelor / الإجازة in Architecture, Engineering, Dentistry, Pharmacy or Veterinary Medicine to a WO bachelor's degree.

We compare a Bachelor / الإجازة in Medicine to 1 year of a 3-year WO master's degree in medicine.


Students with good study results for their Bachelor can continue studying for a Master / الماجستیر.

  • Duration: 2 years.
  • Content: education with a focus on research. The 1st year is for compulsory subjects and exams. Students have to pass the exams for all subjects. In the 2nd year, they have to write a thesis.
  • Admission requirements: a Bachelor with an average of 70% as final result. Often, students also have to pass a language test in English or French. For degree programmes in Dentistry, Engineering and Medicine, candidates must take a special admission exam.
  • Function of the diploma: access to PhD programmes or work.
  • Diploma: Master / الماجستیر. ‘Master’ is always used in combination with the field of study. For example: Master in Civil Engineering / الماجستير في الهندسة المدنية.

We compare a Master / الماجستير to a 1-year HBO or WO master's degree. This depends on the content of the study programme.

Doctor (PhD)

Students can obtain the degree of Doctor after completing a doctoral degree programme (PhD). Usually, candidates continue to study in the field of study of their master’s degree.

  • Duration: at least 3 years.
  • Content: students conduct research, they write and defend a dissertation and publish at least 2 academic articles.
  • Admission requirements: there is a strict selection process. Candidates need a Master in a similar subject with a study result of at least 75%. In addition, candidates have to take a language test in a modern foreign language.
  • Diploma: Doctor / الدكتوراه.