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The Netherlands has the highest amount on English-taught Master’s programmes in Europe

Rankings 6 November 2013, 15:09

The Netherlands is the host country offering the highest amount of English-taught Master’s programmes in Europe according to newly published IIE briefing paper. The data collected showed an overall rise of 25% in Master’s programmes across Europe between June 2011 to June 2013.

Swan in UtrechtThe Center for Academic Mobility Research at the Institute of International Education (IIE) has recently published a briefing paper with information regarding English-taught Master’s programmes in Europe. The data collected showed an overall rise of 25% in Master’s programmes across Europe between June 2011 to June 2013.

The rate of growth for English-taught programmes was even higher at 38%. The growth of English programmes in particular shows the demand that higher education institutions in non-English speaking European countries have faced. According to the paper, The Netherlands is the host country offering the highest amount of English-taught Master’s programmes in Europe.

Where the data comes from

The paper is a follow-up of a report published in June of 2011. It uses data from the past 2 years to assess the growth of Master’s programmes taught either partially or totally in English in European countries. The data was collected from, an online database that provides information about graduate and postgraduate programmes in Europe.

Growth for programmes taught in English

The report counted a total of 6,407 English-taught programmes in Europe as of June 2013, 38% more than in 2011. Programmes that are taught entirely in English grew by 42%, from 3,701 to 5,258 in this timeframe. Programmes taught partially in English also increased by 19%, from 963 to 1,149.

Holland and Germany are top providers

Windmill in KeukenhofThere are many variables that affect the availability of programmes taught in English in different countries, including being able to charge international students tuition fees, government policies allowing courses to be taught in English, the ability to offer English courses, and existing demand. When looking at particular host countries, the report took into account data from 2007 to 2013.

The Netherlands and Germany offered the most English-taught Master’s programmes throughout this period, although Denmark and Sweden have shown the fastest growth rates between 2011 and 2013 (74% and 73%, respectively). Italy, Finland, and France have all shown a 40% increase in English Master’s programmes since 2011.

The paper points out that Scandinavian countries have transferred the majority of their graduate and postgraduate degrees to English. The paper shows The Netherlands’ holding the top position of host countries since 2007 when it started with 386 English-taught Master’s programmes. By 2011, Dutch institutions offered 812 programmes, which grew by 16% to reach 946 in 2013.

The top ten host countries in 2013:

  1. The Netherlands (946)
  2. Germany (733)
  3. Sweden (708)
  4. France (494)
  5. Spain (373)
  6. Denmark (327)
  7. Italy (304)
  8. Switzerland (281)
  9. Finland (261)
  10. Belgium (253)

In terms of average amount of English-taught Master’s per higher education institution (HEI), The Netherlands, with around 19 programmes per institution came second to Denmark which offers 20.4 programmes on average. France offers the lowest amount, with only 3.6 programmes per HEI on average.

2-year Masters are on the rise

One of the more significant changes since 2011 has been the amount of 1-year versus 2-year Master’s programmes. The former has taken a general decline while the later is on the rise in countries such as The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland.

Popular fields of studies

Amsterdam, The NetherlandsIn terms of popular fields, the distribution of programmes has remained almost the same, despite the large amount of growth. Business & Economics (28%) and Engineering & Technology (21%) are still the most popular disciplines, covering 49%, or 3,282 programmes. The Social Sciences discipline is next at 14%, followed by Natural Sciences (9%), Humanities & Art (8%), and Applied Sciences (7%). The Professions & Arts discipline rounds off the list at 7% popularity.

The interest in the Business & Economics and Engineering & Technology disciplines also suggests the potential for further growth in these fields. Although the report doesn’t provide any information on how many students actually enrol in these programmes, it does suggest that growing demand will further develop the diversity and number of English-taught Master’s programmes available in Europe.

Growing interest of studying in continental Europe

Trends are showing a decrease in the interest of international students to study in countries like the UK. In 2011, 31% of student traffic on looked for programmes in the UK, while only 24% did in 2013. Countries such as Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, and France all increased in popularity, showing a general shift in international student interest in continental Europe.


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