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PhD, Postdoc, and Professor Salaries in the Netherlands

3 min read · By Academic Positions

Salaries at Dutch universities are set at the national level and listed in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO-NU). An academic’s place on the salary scale (which can be found on page 80 of the CAO-NU) is determined by their position, qualifications, and experience. The salaries listed in this article are pre-tax. Dutch salaries are supplemented by an 8% holiday allowance (paid in May or June) and an 8.3% end-of-year allowance (paid in December). Income tax is high—either 36.5% or 52%—however foreign academics are often eligible for the 30% scheme which allows them to receive the first 30% of their salary tax-free.


A PhD student in the Netherlands is called a promovendus. A Dutch PhD usually takes four to complete. As PhD candidates are seen as employees rather than students and usually hold the position of Assistant-in-Opleiding (AiO) or Onderzoeker-in-Opleiding (OiO).

A PhD student earns €2,266 to €2,897 per month (P scale).


After earning their PhD, many researchers go on to a postdoc often at another university or in another country. A postdoc is a continuation of the researcher’s training that allows them to further specialize in a particular field and learn new skills and techniques. A Dutch postdoc lasts two years.

The salary range for a postdoc is €3,545 to €4,852 per month (scale 11).

Universitair docent

This position is equivalent to the rank of assistant professor and is the first permanent academic position. The initial contract is often for four years at which point the academic is evaluated and their position may become permanent. If the position becomes permanent, it is not uncommon to stay in this position until retirement.

Recently, tenure-track universitair docent positions have been introduced since many Dutch academic jobs are temporary and job security is perceived to be very low. A more experienced candidate with the potential to become a universitair hoofddocent can become a tenure-track universitair docent. After four to six years their performance is evaluated and those who have published and received major grants are promoted to universitair hoofddocent.

The salary scales for a universitair docent ranges from €3,545 to €5,513 per month (scale 11 and 12) depending on qualifications and experience level.

Universitair hoofddocent

A universitair hoofddocent is equivalent in rank to an associate professor. Traditionally to become a universitair hoofddocent, a universitair docent had to apply for a vacant position. However it is now possible to be promoted to this position based on performance. This is a permanent position and it is not uncommon to remain a universitair hoofddocent until retirement.

The salary scales for a universitair hoofddocent ranges from €4,911 to €6,567 per month (scale 13 and 14) depending on qualifications and experience level.


A hoogleraar is equivalent to a full professor and is at the top of the Dutch professorial hierarchy. They have substantial research accomplishments that have established them as an international or national leader in their field. The position is similar to that of a department chair in that a hoogleraar supervises all the other professors in their department or group. They are also the only ones who can supervise PhD dissertations. Unlike the American tenure system, there is no automatic promotion to hoogleraar. To become one, a universitair hoofddocent has to apply for a vacant position.

The salary scales for a hoogleraar ranges from €5,441 to €9,563 per month (scale H2 and H1) depending on qualifications and experience level. 

By Academic Positions · Published 2019-11-07

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