Logo Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences - link to home page

Studying at an applied science university

You’ll find two kinds of university in the Netherlands. Let’s go through their differences, and what they mean for your AUAS studies.

There are two types of universities in the Netherlands: applied sciences (hogescholen) and research (universiteiten). The first is more practical, the second more theory-based.

Applied science universities - like AUAS - prepare students for specific careers, focusing on practical work experience through internships. They apply the arts and sciences to specific professions. Students participate in many field-research projects within companies and organisations in the university's local area. 

Research universities have a stronger theoretical focus and are more concerned with the critical analysis of a particular area of study. Research is more independent, and may not contain a practical element. The institution itself will not only teach but expect to carry out research.

The following table sets out the differences between these institutions the two Dutch university types:

University of applied sciencesResearch university

Applied, concrete, practical

Abstract, analytical, theoretical
Education trains students for specific professions. Knowledge is applied to work in a solution-oriented way. Emphasis is placed on learning to analyse a certain field critically and analytically.
Prime function is teaching. Research projects focus on addressing real issues faced by institutions and companies.Universities research as well as teach. Students learn how to carry out academic research in their studies.
Contact between students and lecturers is more intensive. There are more compulsory contact hours, including work groups and lectures.Less contact between students and lecturers. Large lecture groups are common, and these are combined with tutorials.
Placements occur throughout the degree programme.Students conclude their studies with either a research project or a placement.
Related to particular profession. Students usually find jobs in their area of study.Less profession-specific. Students generally find positions in the field of management, policy research or administration.

Studying at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will give you academic knowledge, but this will be closely related to a chosen professional area.  Practical training during your studies will give you on-the-job learning that is prized by businesses and organisations. You therefore become more valuable on the international job market.

Diploma Supplement

If you choose to study at the AUAS, you will be issued a Diploma Supplement (DS) upon graduation. This is issued alongside the higher education diploma granted by the AUAS and aims to provide sufficient independent data to improve international transparency and fair academic and professional recognition of qualifications (diplomas, degrees, certificates etc.).

The Diploma Supplement was developed by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES. It is a legal document that provides an independent evaluation of the nature, level, context, content and status of the completed study programme as it is described on the graduate's higher professional education (HBO) certificate. The text of DS is in no way a judgement of value and relates solely to the programme completed by the student in question.

Since 1998, all students at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS/HvA) automatically receive a Diploma Supplement when graduating. The DS is issued free of charge. The diploma (HBO degree certificate) and accompanying list of marks are issued in the Dutch language if the study programme is taught in Dutch, and in English if the programme is taught in English. The Diploma Supplement is only issued in English and also provides all the degree certificate and information, including the overview of grades.

The rationale behind the use of the Diploma Supplement is that it is a service to students so that they can clarify abroad what they have studied and what level they have achieved in the process. Students benefit from the Diploma Supplement both in terms of admission to further studies and also in terms of finding a job.