Research Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences are the two main forms of universities in the Netherlands. Research Universities are referred to by the Dutch as universiteit, whereas Universities of Applied Sciences are called hogeschool. The Netherlands is also home to a small number of private universities where fields such as hospitality and tourism can be studied. Funding one's education at a private Dutch university can be rather expensive as they are known to carry fees that are much higher than those of the public institutions.
At a University of Applied Sciences, study takes a career oriented form, where programmes are structured in a more unchangeable manner in comparison to Research Universities. Those who attend a University of Applied Sciences work toward a particular profession due to its profession oriented approach. Here, the attainable degrees are a bachelor's or a master's.
The majority of the higher education student population in the Netherlands can be found attending Universities of Applied Sciences, which boasts a figure in excess of 400,000 students.
The degrees offered by Universities of Applied Sciences are: an Associate degree of 2 years; a Bachelor's degree of 4 years; and a Master's degree 1-2 years. The main degrees accomplished include: Economics; Behaviour & Society; and Language & Culture.
The central focus of a Research University in the Netherlands is scientific research where students can attain a bachelor's or further their education to a master's or doctoral degree. This focus on scientific research doesn't mean that students who graduate from a Research University are bound to take on a career that involves research. In fact, a large number of Research University graduates go on to pursue careers outside of the world of research.
Research Universities contain close to half the Universities of Applied Science's population of tertiary level students, with approximately 240,000 students.
The degrees offered by Research Universities are: Bachelor's of Science and Bachelor's of Arts taking 3 years; Master of Science and Master of Arts taking 1-2 years; and a PhD taking 4 years. As with the Universities of Applied Sciences, the main field of study in Research Universities throughout the Netherlands is Economics, Behaviour & Society and Language & Culture.
A large number of bachelor programmes at Universities of Applied Sciences include a propedeuse. This is a degree that a student receives after having successfully completed 60 credit hours along with all other mandatory requirements for the first year in the bachelor's programme. The next three years of the bachelor's programme includes learning in a classroom setting, work experience and practical knowledge by means of internships and also projects that involve group work.
The bachelor's degree at a Research University focuses on the chosen field of study. A lot of time is spent in laboratories as well as outside of classrooms where data for research is gathered and experiments are carried out.
Both types of universities leave the option open for their students to minor in another field. At some Research universities, however, students are obligated to take on a minor along with their major.
Having obtained a bachelor's degree from a Research University or a University of Applied Sciences, students can further their education by enrolling in a master's programme. Where a Research University is concerned, the main purpose of the master's programme is to prepare students for independent research. At a University of Applied Sciences, the master's programme is designed to get students ready to take on leadership roles in their field of study.