Study Business in English in The Netherlands


1. Will my business degree from a Dutch university be recognised in the UK?

If you study business in any country in the European Higher Education Area, your degree will be recognised in the UK.

A few Dutch universities, such as the University of Groningen, acquire triple accreditations for their business degrees (NVAO, EQUIS and AACSB), allowing them to enter the top 1% of business schools worldwide.

2. Does it make sense to study business in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is among the top European countries with the most English-taught business degrees. This is because 90% of the Dutch population speak English fluently, and English is the official business languages in large Dutch companies.

Business students in the Netherlands benefit from diverse study options and libraries with extensive English study materials. Moreover, with extensive international experience, lecturers at Dutch universities are very good at facilitating teaching and learning in multicultural classes.

Not only providing excellent student services, Dutch universities also have strong industry connections. When thinking about work experience and employment opportunities in the Netherlands, most students concentrate on Amsterdam. However, the Dutch economy is much more diverse than that. The world port Rotterdam, home of Rotterdam Business School, is an ideal place for those who want to start a career in trade or shipping. Friesland’s strength in water technology gives business students at Stenden University of Applied Sciences an edge in this field. The Hague, city of peace and justice, offers a safe business environment for companies in the IT, hospitality, energy and legal sectors. This is a major advantage for business students at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. A business degree from a Dutch university can be one of your greatest career assets.

3. Where can I study business in the Netherlands?

You can find business bachelor’s degrees in English at both research universities and universities of Applied Sciences. Put “business” in our course search to see the full list of where you can study business in English in the Netherlands.

Due to the high number of degree programmes available, we are not able to describe their curricula in detail. We think it’s more important that you are aware of the key similarities and differences between a 3-year International Business Administration (IBA) degree at a research university and a 4-year International Business (IB) at a university of Applied Sciences. Each option suits a different career path, so your choice should be primarily based on what you want to do after your business degree.

Similarities between IBA and IBA

Whether you are an IBA or an IB student, you should expect to follow a broad, interdisciplinary curriculum covering all functional areas of business. For example, within the BSc in International Business at the University of Groningen, you start off with an intensive introductory programme spanning Economics, Financial Accounting, Law, Marketing and Supply Chain Management, before learning in depth about each area in the second and third years. Similarly, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, also located in the city of Groningen, requires first year students within the BBA in International Business and Management Studies programme to complete over 15 foundation courses. The second year consists of eight subjects providing more specialised knowledge. This generalist approach differentiates Dutch business degrees from their UK equivalents. It trains students to become managers who can draw on different disciplines for solving business problems and thrive on different professional environments, rather than experts in a certain business niche.

Due to the large amount of knowledge covered in the first year generalist curriculum, when you first arrive in the Netherlands you may feel that your workload is heavier than what your peers in the UK have. To help you adapt to this new learning style and keep your studies on the right track, most Dutch universities operate a binding study advice system for first year students where you must achieve a minimum of credits to progress to the second year. Furthermore, many universities assign a mentor from whom you can seek extensive support and coaching.

Research universities and Universities of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands share an international outlook. For them, the international dimension of a degree programme is not narrowed to its curriculum (eg. the use of international case studies), but extended to students’ cross-cultural communication skills and opportunities to explore new boundaries. This is why Amsterdam School of International Business and The Hague University of Applied Sciences encourage you to learn foreign languages, the University of Groningen sends you abroad on an exchange semester, and Rotterdam Business School lets you participate in international study trips and consulting projects for organisations worldwide. Taking an IBA or IBMS degree in the Netherlands can give you a head start in an international career.

Differences between IBA and IB

Although they share a broad, demanding business curriculum and an international outlook, IBA degrees at research universities and IB degrees at universities of Applied Sciencess are greatly different in many respects.

IBA programmes are more rigid.

They are mostly comprised of compulsory courses. The University of Groningen’s International Business programme exemplifies the type of highly structured business degrees at Dutch research universities. With the exception of the fifth semester when you can pick and mix courses while being on an exchange, you will largely follow a fixed curriculum throughout your three years at the university. Some research universities, such as the University of Amsterdam and Radboud University, allow you to choose a specialisation toward the end of your IBA degree, while others like Rotterdam School of Management, Tilburg University and University of Twente give you the option of taking electives or a minor. Your choices, however, are limited because the specialisations, electives and minors of an IBA degree are often fixed sets of courses. Following a rigid IBA business curriculum at a research university allows you little flexibility to shape your degree, but gives you a solid understanding of all functional areas of business. In general, Dutch research university business Bachelor’s degrees aim to give you a solid business education and you can specialise during your Master’s degree.

In contrast, IB degrees at Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences feature more varied curricular. An example would be the BBA in International Business and Management Studies at Rotterdam Business School. You can take electives to customise your degree from the first year. In the final year, you can choose to complete one of the following minors: Logistics Management, Marketing Management, Finance and Accounting, Risk and Investment Management, International Human Resource Management and Business Opportunities in Sustainability and Innovation. The range of specialisations within the BBA in International Business and Management Studies at Stenden University of Applied Sciences  is just as diverse. Third year students can take their degrees in the direction that they want by following one of the following tracks: Innovation and Leadership, Retail Management, Business to Business and International Sustainability Management. Following a flexible IB curriculum at a university of Applied Sciences means you can to tailor a course to meet your career aspirations, but at the same time you will need to trade off a comprehensive business education.

IBA and IB courses are different in length.

An IBA programme at a research university takes three years to complete, while an IBMS at a university of Applied Sciences typically lasts for four years. The reason is IBA students only spend one semester of their studies on an exchange or internship, whereas it’s compulsory for IB students to spend one year, usually in the third year, exploring options outside of their formal studies.

For example, within the BBA in International Business and Management Studies programme at Hanze University of Applied Sciences, you will study abroad and complete an international placement project in your third year, before coming back to the university in the fourth year to do a minor and a graduation project. The approach is similar at Rotterdam Business School, where your third year starts with an industrial placement and finishes with courses at university, while your fourth year comprises an exchange semester and a graduation placement. If you want to concentrate on gaining experience outside of university in one year and spend the final year focusing on your graduation, the BBA in International Business and Management Studies at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences would be a great option, as your exchange semester and 20-week internship will both take place in the third year. Doing an IB degree at a university of Applied Sciences means it might take you one year longer to qualify, but you would head into the job market with more work experience.

Some universities of Applied Sciences now offer the option to take a fast-track programme, which means you can complete your IB degree in three years if you have good A’ levels in relevant subjects. Within the fast-track programme, students are still required to complete one year worth of work experience, but are not allowed to customise their degrees.

The common wisdom is that IBA degrees at research universities are more academic, while IB degrees at universities of Applied Sciences are more practical.

This is true to some extent because IBA study programmes cover economics and monetary policies extensively, whereas IB courses allow students to focus on areas like marketing, logistics and project management. Moreover, IBA study programmes have a strong emphasis on knowledge of research methodologies, preparing you for a Master’s degree in the future. On the other hand, within an IB degree, you would learn about personal branding, career coaching and are perhaps better prepared for the workplace immediately upon graduation.

This distinction between IBA and IB programmes, however, has become blurred in recent years.

Research universities now try to enhance their students’ transferrable skills and career prospects through introducing new teaching and learning styles.

At the University of Groningen, the strong network of guest speakers from the industry and short study trips help expose their IBA students to the world of business. At Rotterdam School of Management, you will spend half of your first year working in a group of four to write a real business plan. In the second year, you will participate in a project to improve cultural understanding in the workplace. At the University of Twente, the IBA curriculum consists of a small number of modules encompassing various subjects, encouraging students to think about how different functions of business interact and affect each other in the real world.

Going directly to employment is no longer the only route after an IB degree at a university of Applied Sciences.

Business students at HAN University of Applied Sciences can now do a pre Master’s programme of Tilburg University in their third year if they want to pursue postgraduate education in the future. Moreover, research skills are now a very important part of almost all IBMS study programmes.

4. Where are the best places to study business in the Netherlands?

This table gives you an overview of the rankings of Dutch research universities in the field of business and management. It bears no relation to the quality of business degrees on offer at undergraduate level and we include it here for information purposes only.


The Times Higher Education Subject Rankings

QS Subject Rankings

Erasmus University



University of Groningen


151 - 200

Utrecht University



Maastricht University


151 - 200

Radboud University Nijmegen



University of Twente


251 - 300

VU Amsterdam


251 - 300

Tilburg University


101 – 150

University of Amsterdam


51 - 100

Eindhoven University of Technology


201 - 250


There is no international league table for Universities of Applied Sciencess but they are ranked domestically. However, these rankings refer to their Dutch taught programmes.

We understand that you will use league tables as important sources of information for your university choice. However, the significant differences between the results in The Times Higher Education Rankings and QS Rankings show that league tables are only relative.

We recommend going to open days and researching the curriculum of each IBA or IB degree programme to find out which one is the best option for you.

5. What grades do I need to get in?

The most important thing that you should bear in mind while preparing for your admission to a business degree programme in the Netherlands is that you must have Maths in your A’ Levels if you wish to study at a research university. Without an A’ Level in Maths, you will be asked to sit a Maths test (at least as hard as A’ level maths), or take a Maths foundation course.

For IBA degrees at research universities, we would suggest a minimum of BBB at A’ Level.

For IB degrees at universities of Applied Sciences, the entry requirement is typically 3 A’ Levels but relevant BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma qualifications will also be considered.

Some thoughts from business students at Dutch universities

Chris Blount-Powell

Etain Dobson

John Martin

Andrew McDonnell

Lewis Millican

Charlie Roscoe

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About Study In Holland is an information service designed to assist British and Irish students in pursuing their university education in the Netherlands.

We have extensive knowledge of English-taught degrees in Holland and we also work with careers advisory services. is owned by A Star Future Ltd and is not affiliated with the Dutch government.