The prospect of cycling to class along sparkling canals and bright spring days studying outdoors among the tulips may seem like a picturesque existence. However, the task of choosing the best business school in the Netherlands for your unique requirements can be a confusing and daunting business.
Do not fear! Here at EDUopinions, we have put together the key details you need to know to guide your research. We’ve also collected lots of verified reviews from students in the Netherlands, and below you can find the most insightful and helpful opinions – direct from current and past students.
The 5 Best Business Schools in The Netherlands
- Rotterdam School of Management – RSM
- Maastricht University- UM
- Maastricht School of Management – MSM
- University of Groningen – RUG
- Amsterdam Business School – ABS
Located in the city of Rotterdam, Rotterdam School of Management originally began as the Dutch School of Higher Commercial Education of Erasmus University, founded in 1913. Several years later, in 1970, it evolved into the Graduate School of Management and was “transferred” to the neighbourhood of Kralingen, only to be moved to the city of Delft (located between Rotterdam and The Hague) and renamed “Interuniversities Institute for Business Administration” two years later. The school eventually relocated to the Erasmus University in 1986.
Nowadays, RSM offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate business-related degrees, mostly taught in English, including Business Administration, Accounting and Financial Management, Strategic Entrepreneurship and Finance & Investments. Currently, around 8,000 students are enrolled at RMS, who seem to be generally satisfied with their experience in this institution:
Rotterdam School of Management surprises students at the moment of the entrance to the school. Unique atmosphere, hearty welcome and international ambience is a perfect combination of school buildings. Related to management programmes, school is specialized especially in business administration. It is a part of Erasmus University and many people from different part of the world prefer this school due to high ranking and quality. After graduation, the school offers the big network to their students for a wonderful start at their career.
Nevertheless, some students have pointed out some drawbacks this School may have, such as not establishing a maximum number of students who can enrol in the courses, which eventually leads to overcrowded classes, a more impersonal education and a worse organization, and as we can see in these reviews left by Leonard and Nikita, two alumni of the RMS,
I studied at Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) from 2010 until 2013 for my Bachelor degree. Generally said, I would recommend the university to any peers considering to go there. The university, especially the business faculty, has some great facilities. The buildings look nice and are well equipped, the cafeteria are big and offer different types of food. RSM manages to get some great professors and alumni to come and speak for the students, which comes along with the high reputation RSM maintains. As an example, one of the guest speakers during my time at Erasmus was the current CEO of Ahold, a great inspirational person to hear from. The general business curriculum with the courses included is in general a great way to start any business career and a good preparation to do a master after, either at Erasmus or any other university. Money value wise, studying at Erasmus is a great bargain, considering its reputation and all mentioned above.
There are ofcourse, as in any university, some downsides to mention. During my time and still now, there is no limit for the number of students who can join in one year. This means, during my first year, over 900 students started the business study. This is ofcourse way too much: Classes are impersonal, people are less concentrated and it is harder to follow the lecture. It has to be said that during the course of the Bachelor, lots of people quit the study meaning the classes decrease in size afterwards. However, the size of the classes is still huge compared to other universities which makes the lecture quite impersonal.
Overall I would recommend Erasmus, and in particular the business department, to everyone looking to start a business career.
Erasmus University, and the Rotterdam School of Management in particular, provides many resources for students to learn more about their fields of study. Many professors have great experience and are interesting to listen to. However, the overall organization of my program was not that great as there were cases when classrooms could not fit all the attendees or when grading took months. I felt that the RSM building had better facilities than most of the other schools at Erasmus, however many classes took place in the other buildings as well.
Nevertheless, in spite of these downfalls, they have qualified their experience studying there as a positive one.
The School of Business and Economics (SBE) is a faculty of the prestigious Maastricht University, located in the homonymous city in the south of The Netherlands, close to the Belgian border. Maastricht University (or UM for short) is a very young Dutch university, having only been founded in 1976. Taking into account that The Netherlands houses universities that were originally established in the 16th and 17th centuries, such as Leiden University (1575) and the University of Groningen (1614), it is amazing to think about how fast SBE of Maastricht University has risen to one of the best business schools in the country.
Currently, the University offers several undergraduate and postgraduate courses specialising in several areas of the economy: Econometrics, Fiscal Economics, International Business, Business Intelligence and Smart Services, Finance and Control. Maastricht University currently has more than 16,000 students enrolled, and is known to follow a “Problem Based” learning strategy, which has been mentioned by several students who have left a review for this university on our website:
Luckily, I am one of the few people that have had the luxury of studying at two different universities; Erasmus University Rotterdam (henceforth called EUR) and Maastricht University (henceforth called UM). I studied Business Administration last year in Rotterdam and now European Studies at UM. UM has what’s called PBL (Problem Based Learning). This has its advantages and disadvantages over traditional learning (sitting in a lecture hall).
– you’re actively working with the study material
– you hear 10-15 different points of view, as opposed to just one from the lecturer
– small-scale, so a lot of personal interaction with others
– no big pressure to ask the tutor something, because of the smaller scale
Now, it also has a couple of drawbacks that I feel have to be mentioned
– if you don’t do your preparation for a tutorial, you will miss out on a lot of perks
– sometimes multiple people have not done their preparation
– you are dependent on other people and vice versa
All of these pros and cons are subjective. Some people think the pros outweigh the cons and others think the exact opposite.
The university advertises itself as a very international university. And I will have to agree, to some extent. I can only speak for my own faculty and studies. I cannot comment on other faculties and studies as I do not have a first-hand experience. At my studies about 70% is from a foreign (not from the Netherlands) country. Up until now, I have not noticed anything that might suggest that one “group” is treated differently than the other. It does not matter if you’re from the other side of the world or if you were born and raised in Maastricht. Everyone is equal.
The city is obviously also a big part of your academic career at UM. I personally love the city of Maastricht. It is not a very big city, but this makes it very cozy. Don’t expect there to be a lot of clubs, Maastricht is a typical pubs and bars city. Something that has to be mentioned, is that UM does not have just one campus or campus housing. Be mindful of this.
To finish off my experiences so far: I am really enjoying my time studying at UM. It is a smaller university compared to others, but it’s quite personal.
Particularly, this anonymous student mentions that this learning system has both its advantages and disadvantages, but that people may interpret them differently, thus making it quite a subjective educational strategy. Nevertheless, the student still thinks that this method helps create a closer and more personal learning environment, and is overall satisfied with his/her experience at the UM.
The city of Maastricht is also home to another one of the best Dutch business schools, Maastricht School of Management, which is an independent private institution. Founded in 1952 and currently attended by approximately 2,000 students, MSM has established throughout time many different partnership programmes with other business schools in countries as diverse as Azerbaijan, Hungary, Iran, Kazakhstan, Peru, India, Mongolia, Suriname, Kuwait, Romania, China, Egypt, Germany, Vietnam, Yemen, the USA, and the UK.
MSM also offers a wide range of degrees (including Master of Science and Master in Management programmes), as well as the possibility of studying online. Nowadays, some of the most prominent degrees that are issued by this School are the Master of Business Administration, the Executive MBA, and the Doctor of Business Administration.
The University of Groningen (or RUG for short, known in Dutch as Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) is the second oldest university in the Netherlands, having been founded in 1614, only 39 years after Leiden University. RUG is currently attended by more than 30,000 students and divided into eleven different faculties, including the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), considered one of the most prestigious centres of formation in business in the country.
One of the particularities of the FEB is that it not only offers Bachelors, Masters and PhD programmes specializing in various economic-related areas such as Business Administration, Econometrics and Operations Research, Business Economics, International Business, Accountancy, Finance, Human Resource Management, Marketing… but it also offers students the possibility of studying double degrees with exchanges to other partner institutions abroad involved in countries as diverse as France, China, Indonesia, Germany, Norway, Chile, Romania, Sweden, Hungary, Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Denmark, the UK and the USA.
Furthermore, the University of Groningen is well-known for its international outlook and the emphasis it places on research, as this anonymous student has corroborated in this review:
I started my studies at the University of Groningen as a Master student in the Marketing Management track last September. The University of Groningen was one out of the three universities I really wanted to join in the Netherlands. In general, the institution is very well-known about its research orientation with a global outlook.
It combines the really high quality of education with affordable lifestyle and education expenses. The latter was one of the most important reasons I did select RUG.
More specific, it is much appreciated the fact that I had full support in all the different stages I had to go through since my selection until the final confirmation and registration to the institution. All the people behind the student services were and they still are very willing to help you with any problem you may face.
All around the faculty, there are many opportunities to expand your knowledge and to dive yourself into the future career path.
However, regarding my track, there are a few things to be developed. The research orientation of the university overweights the managerial aspect of Marketing. Although the power of research is really significant it should not be implemented in the degree it currently is. The courses should be modified that way in order to serve the needs of a future brand manager and not those of a data scientist.
Particularly, the student points out the support that was given to him/her during all the application and registration procedures and the willingness of the student services to help with any problems. And even though he/she thinks that the courses were still a little more practical than theoretical, this person has assessed the experience lived at the FEB as a Master in Marketing Management student as a generally very positive one.
Amsterdam Business School – ABS is part of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Amsterdam (abbreviated as UvA), along with the Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE). Currently, ABS offers Bachelor’s, Master’s degrees and PhDs that specialise in areas such as Business Administration, Economics, Business Economics, Fiscal Economics, Econometrics and Operational Research.
Furthermore, the ABS and the ASE are the only business schools in the Netherlands that offer a programme in Actuarial Sciences, a discipline which consists in the application of various mathematical and statistical methods to evaluate risk in different professions and industries, including the insurance and financial fields. International orientation is also something the ABS places emphasis on; thus, most of the programmes that are taught there are available in the English language.
In general, students seem to be satisfied with their experience studying Business and Economics at the University of Amsterdam, as can be seen in these reviews:
I am a full-time Information Studies: Business Information Systems Master’s student at UvA and so far my experience living, studying and socializing here in Amsterdam has been great. UvA gives you the opportunity to think critically and apply theories with real life cases and this prepares you for life after graduating. Amsterdam is very international so if you are planning to apply and study here, surely you won’t regret it.
This other anonymous student also praises both the facilities available and the organisation:
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Editor’s note: This article was first published on the 4th of January 2019. We’ve updated it for current readers.