Master's students at their graduation ceremony

Higher education in the Netherlands

Here you'll find more information about higher education in the Netherlands and the differences between the two types of institutions: Research Universities (like Tilburg University) and Universities of Applied Sciences.

Two types of institutions

Higher education in the Netherlands is known for its high quality and its international study environment. With more than 2,100 international study programs and courses, it has the largest offer of English-taught programs in continental Europe. Dutch higher education also offers great value for money: high quality and reasonable tuition fees.

Higher education in the Netherlands is offered at two types of institutions: 

  • Research Universities (WO)
  • Universities of Applied Sciences (HBO)

Some programs are offered exclusively at a University of Applied Sciences, such as Nursing, Fine Arts or Elementary School Teaching. Other programs are offered exclusively at a Research University, such as Econometrics or Philosophy. To make things confusing, there are programs which are available at both types of institutions, such as Communication, Business Administration or Engineering. Every student should decide which type of education and program suits them best. In order to help you understand the differences better, we outlined them below.

Research Universities offer the highest academic level of education available

Research by SEO Amsterdam Economics (2019) has shown that education at a Research University is a good investment in your career. The annual income ten years after graduation is 30-35% higher for Research University graduates than for graduates of a University of Applied Sciences. 

Differences in type of education and teaching methods

Research Universities
Universities of Applied Sciences

Differences in requirements and degree awarded

Research Universities
Universities of Applied Sciences

Differences in accreditation and international rankings

International rankings
NVAO accreditation

More information about the Dutch higher education system

More information on the Dutch higher education system and studying in the Netherlands can be found on the Study in Holland website or in this video made by Nuffic, the Dutch organization for internalization in education. 

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