Study Physiotherapy in The Netherlands

Study Physiotherapy in English at Dutch universities

By choosing to study Physiotherapy in The Netherlands you are taking the first steps into an incredibly rewarding career. Dutch universities have a great reputation in Physiotherapy, offering some of the best courses in Europe for this subject. As the curriculum is sometimes delivered in English and structured around core competencies, graduates enjoy excellent career prospects and can adapt quickly to a diverse variety of professional environments.

English-taught Bachelor’s degrees in Physiotherapy are available at four Dutch universities. It is currently not possible to study Physiotherapy in English at postgraduate level in Holland.

1.  Will my Dutch Physiotherapy degree be recognised?

In order to practice as a physiotherapist in the UK, you must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). If you hold a Dutch Physiotherapy degree, you will not be required to take additional courses or an adaptation phase before the registration, thanks to the European Mutual Recognition rights.

2.  Does it make sense to study Physiotherapy in The Netherlands?

Yes, if you are keen to gain first-hand experience early on in your training and help patients with different backgrounds from yours. You are expected to work harder, but in return your clinical skills would be strong. Failing to understand this difference between the training in the Netherlands and the UK, you can easily feel unmotivated and overwhelmed in your first year.

Attending Dutch universities of applied sciences, you will also benefit from strong industrial links. These relationships not only pave the way to high quality physiotherapy internships during your degree, but also provide invaluable feedback that helps the curriculum more relevant to real world situations.

Indeed, British students who chose Physiotherapy courses in the Netherlands highlight it is their efficiency and practical orientation that sets them apart from similar programmes in the UK. As Lucy Carveth-Johnson, first year Physiotherapy student at Hanze University of Applied Sciences, puts it: “Not only was it much cheaper than English universities, you got much more for your money… It is a very practical-based teaching style and you have a lot of opportunity to repeat the stuff you have learned, which is really helpful. From what I hear from my contemporaries at English universities, there is a lot more tutor contact at Hanze UAS. The course is very well structured and from the beginning you have to apply all of your theoretical knowledge so you become a successful physio in the future, not just learning for exams.

3.  Where can I study Physiotherapy in The Netherlands?

You can choose among the following four institutions:

  • Hanze University of Applied Sciences
  • Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • Saxion University of Applied Sciences
  • Fontys University of Applied Sciences

The curriculum at all four universities revolves around three key areas: developing physical assessment, treatment and communication skills. These qualities are essential for a career in physiotherapy. Furthermore, by offering students the opportunity to do a final year research project, they aim to create not just care providers, but also managers and developers of the profession.

The two major differences between the four degree programmes are learning styles and internship opportunities.

Hanze University of Applied Sciences use case studies throughout their course. Instead of attending lectures, you will spend a lot of time working on small group work to find solutions for the problems of the patients involved in trigger material. You will use “triggers” from cases to define your learning objectives independently. You will also learn from your teammates as much as from your lecturers. This model gives you the flexibility to tailor the programme to your individual needs, while also prepares you to work in teams to solve complex issues.

If you choose Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, you will be joining a highly qualified academic community. Their faculty is comprised of practicing professionals, including medical specialists, psychologists, human movement scientist, exercise physiologists and physiotherapists. Such diversity of expertise will provide you with the broad knowledge and skills you need to become a multi-specialist physiotherapist. The advantage of this approach is that you will be more flexible and efficient when working in a team, since you are equipped to handle a broad range of physiotherapist matters. For the excellent quality of teaching of this programme, it has been awarded the status Honours by Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Small Scale and Intensive Education by the Dutch and Flemish Accreditation Organisation.

In contrast with the generalist approach at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Saxion University of Applied Sciences encourage students to take a minor where they can study more in depth about Manual Therapy, Sports Physiotherapy, or Diagnose and Treatment.

While other universities primarily focus on building supporting knowledge and skills in physiotherapy practice for students, Fontys University of Applied Sciences highlights the importance of entrepreneurship in the profession and hence requires students to complete an entrepreneurship project in their final year. If you are interested in physiotherapy and business, this course is the perfect combination of both.

At all four universities of applied sciences, work experience is an essential part of the curriculum. Students must complete more than one internship before they can graduate. The timeline of internships can have a major impact on how your studies and skillsets, and it varies across the four institutions.

Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is the only place in Holland where you can complete a Physiotherapy degree in three years. Choosing their programme, you will be qualified one year more quickly, but in return you will be expected to use experimental learning style extensively as clinical internships take place from the first year through to the final year.

At Hanze University of Applied Sciences, you take a work placement at the very last stage of your degree (at the end of year 3 and the last semester of year 4), having spent two years studying extensively about theories and methods of treatment. This approach is more suitable for those who find it more productive to follow a structured curriculum than learning through doing.

Following a similar model in which internships are introduced late in the course, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, however, puts students in a transition period in their second year. After taking courses about anatomy and physiology in the first year, students will spend a year doing self-studies, before completing external internships in the third and fourth years.

What distinguishes Saxion University of Applied Sciences from other institutions is perhaps the opportunity to complete your clinical education abroad. Clinical education accounts for one of the four years of your degree, and it can be done in Netherlands, Norway or Germany. In addition, you can join international projects in South Africa, Indonesia and India.

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

There are only four places in the whole country where you can study Physiotherapy in English. Since the choices are limited, and there is no official league table for this subject, we would recommend that you look into the structure and facilities of each course, as well as its location, to decide which one is the best for you.

5.  Which grades do I need to get in?

Generally speaking, you need at least three A Levels to be eligible to apply. However, Dutch universities of applied sciences can be flexible. For example, Hanze University of Applied Sciences require 4 GCSEs (A*- C grade) plus 2 AS levels (6 different subjects in total). BTECs are often accepted as well.

It is worth noticing that at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, your grades are not the most important factor in the admission process. If your application gets through the application review stage, you will be invited to attend the Selection Day in their campus in February where you are required to complete additional tests. For this reason, their programme is the most selective in the country, only accepting 60 students per year.

Physiotherapy is a highly selective course in the Netherlands and universities receive far more applications than there are places available.

Some thoughts from physiotherapy students at Dutch universities

Lucy Carveth-Johnson


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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.