Research vs Applied Science:

which is the best for you?

The Netherlands offers two types of universities – Research Universities (or in Dutch: WO) and Universities of Applied Sciences (or HBO). While awarded with the same title, there are some important differences on what you will take away from your degree. So it’s important to consider your personal needs and future goals.

Below, we highlighted the key differences between both types of universities:

Course Orientation

Amsterdam Masters

Research University (WO)

You focus on building critical thinking skills through research and theory, so you can expect to do a lot of analytical reading and writing at a research university. This also allows more freedom in how and when you study, but requires self-discipline.

Bachelors in the Netherlands

University of Applied Science (HBO)

Also known in Dutch as Hoger Beroepsonderwijs (i.e Vocational Training), courses are more professionally oriented. Here, the focus is on developing skills and preparing you for a professional career once you graduate. Many of your teachers also have professional experience in the field.

Learning Style

Study in Netherlands Cost

Research University (WO)

There is less personal guidance from lecturers and more focus on independent learning. You are expected to absorb a lot of content at a faster pace. You do this through a combination of lectures and discussion seminars. Assignments are mostly theoretical and focused on developing new knowledge in a scientific way.

Business Universities in Netherlands

University of Applied Science (HBO)

You can expect more personal guidance and supervision from your teachers than from professors at research universities. You’ll typically see a higher variety of subjects, but you are given more time to learn. You apply knowledge in a solution-oriented way and often in collaborative projects.

KEY FACT Research University
( WO )
University of Applied Science
( HBO )
# of uni’s in the Netherlands 13 40
Course Orientation Learn how Learn why
Skills Critical thinking Professional skills
Learning style More Independent More Collaborative
Bachelor duration 3 years 4 years (some 3 year fast tracks available)
Tuition fees (annual) EU

Bachelors 2,200 EUR*

Masters 2,200 EUR

NON EU

Bachelors 6,000 - 14,000 EUR

Masters 14,000 - 20,000 EUR
EU

Bachelors 2,200 EUR*

Masters 2,200 EUR

NON EU

Bachelors 6,000 - 11,000 EUR

Masters 6,000 - 11,000 EUR
Internship Not included in program Included in program

(*) If you have not previously been enrolled at a government-funded university in the Netherlands, you pay only 50% of the tuition fees for the first year.

Duration

LLM Netherlands

Research University (WO)

A Bachelor’s program is typically completed in 3 years and a Master’s program in 1 – 2 years, depending on the program. In most programs, internships are not compulsory.

It is possible to do 1 – 2 semesters abroad as part of the Erasmus+ Exchange program.

Study in the Netherlands Undergraduate

University of Applied Science (HBO)

Most bachelor programs for universities of applied sciences take 4 years to complete.

This is also because degrees include a compulsory work placement (or internship) for a period of 6 – 12 months. The work placement takes place at a real company with the aim to put your skills to practice.

Tuition Fees

Research University

EU

The tuition fees for all publicly funded universities are fixed at €2,209 per year. If you have not previously been enrolled at a government-funded university in the Netherlands, you pay only 50% of the tuition fees for the first year.

NON EU

Annual tuition fees typically range between €6,000 – €14,000 for a Bachelor’s program and €14,000 – €20,000 for a Master’s program.

University of Applied Science

EU

Also here, EU students pay the fixed annual tuition fee of €2,209 annually for publicly funded Universities of Applied Sciences. There are some private business schools where you can expect to pay a bit more.

NON EU

Annual tuition fees are a bit lower compared to Research Universities. Typically €6,000 – €11,000 for a Bachelor’s program and €6,000 – €14,000 for Master’s programs.

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