University education and research in The Netherlands is renowned as being of a high quality while placing importance on international orientation and creating traditions. Since 1575, when the first university in Holland was founded, many famous scientists, Nobel prize winners, politicians, and members of royal families became graduates of Dutch research universities.
While these universities continue to build their academic traditions by preparing students for scientific research, they also implement practical components into their study programmes. As a result, their students also have the option to start a professional career upon graduation.
Dutch research universities offer undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate study programmes. In contrast to universities of applied sciences, most of these are offered at the Master’s level and taught in English.
Bachelor’s programmes generally have a 3 year duration and lead to a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) diploma. Graduates of these programmes can then apply for 1 or 2 year Master’s programmes to obtain a Master of Science (MSc) or Master of Arts (MA) degree. Certain Master’s programmes also give students the option to continue their education at the PhD level, leading to a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degree.
Bachelor of Sciences or Arts (BSc or BA)
Master of Sciences or Arts (MSc or MA)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Study programmes at research universities in The Netherlands are focused on scientific research. Highly developed infrastructure, an extended international network, and contemporary study methods allow these programmes to remain at the top of the list when it comes to European higher education institutions.
Specialisation and rankings
There are 14 research universities in Holland. Three of them, the University of Twente, TU Delft, and TU Eindhoven, specialise in the technological fields while one institution, Wageningen University and Research Centre, focuses on agriculture and life sciences. The remaining research universities are all broadly based, offering programmes in a wide variety of fields. All of the universities are members of the Association of Universities in The Netherlands (Vereniging van Universiteiten - VSNU).
There are also eight university medical centres (UMCs) in The Netherlands, two of which are in Amsterdam, with the others located in Groningen, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Leiden, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.
Dutch research universities participate in the national and international rankings every year. These rankings assess their reputation, the quality of their study programmes, the efficiency of the scientific research conducted by their students and staff, and the citation indexes of their publications. According to these rankings, universities in The Netherlands offer the best higher education in continental Europe.
Watch the movie about Dutch research universities:
Find more information about certain research universities.