When you are applying for a university in Europe, specially in countries like Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and countries in Western Europe, you will come across terms like University of Applied Sciences and Research Universities. Well, as an international student it is important to know the difference between these two types of universities.

Universities of applied sciences and research-oriented universities make up the Dutch higher education system. Universities that focus on specific areas, such as research universities, offer highly scholarly, research-oriented programs. Universities of applied sciences, on the other hand, are more practical and profession-oriented, catering to students who want to pursue a certain job path after graduation.

Research Based Universities


Research universities are basically universities committed to research in a particular field. These universities particularly focus more on the academic and the analytical than the vocational approach of the course, and dive into the depths of a particular field. You basically focus on the ‘why’ of things in research universities.

Undergraduate degrees at research universities last three years on average, and masters degrees last two years. Students at these universities are more engaged in the field’s concepts and application of knowledge with more intensive education and courses focusing on certain disciplines.

For example, if you join an IT course in a research university, you will be researching on the fundamental concepts and theories of that course, and will follow disciplines such as critical thinking, problem solving etc.

A research university placement or internship is less common. Students do, however, have the option of finishing their studies with a research project or a placement.

Some Research universities in the Netherlands are:

  • Delft University of Technology
  • Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Leiden University
  • Maastricht University
  • Open University
  • Tilburg University
  • University of Amsterdam
  • University of Twente
  • Utrecht University

Applied Sciences Universities



The teaching style at a university of applied sciences is centered on figuring out the ‘how’ of things. They are also known as Vocational Universities, Professional Universities and Institutes of Technology.

The method of teaching in applied sciences university is more so preparing the student for the industry in that field than in researching about it, This method of instruction is both concrete and practical. This style of instruction prepares you as a student for the future job market by teaching you how to apply what you’ve learned in a practical setting.

At a university of applied sciences, placements or internships are typical. Generally, students complete many placements or internships during their education degree in order to get  job experience.

Some Applied Sciences universities in the Netherlands are:

  • Aeres University of Applied Sciences
  • Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • Inholland University of Applied Sciences
  • Rotterdam University, University of Applied Sciences
  • Saxion University of Applied Sciences
  • The Hague University of Applied Sciences
  • Webster University, University of Applied Sciences
  • Windesheim University of Applied Sciences
  • Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences

Want to check courses in an applied university in Netherlands? Check InHolland university of Applied Sciences.