Working at a University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands

Discover the career possibilities at a University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands

Universities of Applied Sciences are interested in both recent graduates (Master's, PhD) and graduates with experience and an established network. Since Universities of Applied Sciences place considerable focus on the link between education, research and entrepreneurship, there is a growing need for PhD graduates. The possibilities for Master's or PhD graduates are diverse:

  • Professional Doctorate (PD)
  • Lecturer-Reseacher
  • (Principal) Lecturer / Lecturer in a Master's degree programme
  • (Associate) Lector
  • Other roles

Professional Doctorate (PD)

The Professional Doctorate is a new doctoral programme within higher professional education that will start as a pilot in 2023. As PD candidate, you will be trained to become a highly qualified research professional and learn to intervene in complex practices such as the energy transition or healthcare. You conduct research into the latest developments in professional practice. Read more information about the PD program.


As a lecturer-researcher you participate in a knowledge circle of a research group. You then initiate and contribute to practice-oriented research that fits in your field of work. You process the research results into teaching material. You will also guide students during their graduation phase in their research.

(Principal) Lecturer / Lecturer in a Masters degree programme

As a lecturer you help young people to develop into real professional professionals. With your knowledge and practical experience as a basis.

A PhD is certainly a recommendation for lecturers at a University of Applied Sciences master's degree. The background to this is the aim that every teacher should have a higher education level than the level for which he/she trains. In the master's branch of a university of applied sciences, therefore, only lecturers with a doctorate could work. This is usually not yet the case with existing master's degree programmes.

Lector and associate lector

Lectors are the drivers of knowledge networks established in higher professional education around content-based themes. Lectors are expected to not only have a PhD degree, but also a good (regional) network in their field. Associate lectors, who also coordinate research in some knowledge networks, are often PhD graduates or in the process of earning their PhD degree.

Other roles and positions

There are a number of other roles and positions within Universities of Applied Sciences for which a PhD degree is preferred. This includes supervisors for internal PhD students, graduation coordinators and those responsible or co-responsible for research lines in the education programme.

Personal Stories


"An academic career is a marathon and not a sprint. Be open to the many possibilities out there and dare to explore the unknown."

Wietse van de Lageweg
Lector of Building with Nature Coastal Research at HZ University of Applied Sciences

Read Wietse's story


"To transfer from a research university to a university of applied sciences has been one of the best decisions in my career."

Sjoerd van den Heuvel
Associate Lector at University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

Read Sjoerd's story


"I have a big heart for education, especially for entrepreneurship education, and want to give something back to education by doing research."

Sultan Göksen-Olgun
PhD candidate at Maastricht University and lecturer & researcher at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Read Sultan's story


"I took Dutch language courses during my PhD and that helped me to look beyond English-speaking positions."

JuanFra Alvarado Valenzuela
Researcher in Entrepreneurship – Centre for Economic Transformation at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Read JuanFra's story

Lector Dr. Josje Dikkers about working at a University of Applied Sciences

Principal Lecturer Dr. Abiola Makinwa about being a Lecturer-Researcher

Why choose a career at a University of Applied Sciences?

Do you enjoy teaching, but want to continue doing research at the same time? As a PhD graduate, you can provide a broader perspective on your field, thereby giving an impetus to the quality of the research, as well as the education. You also contribute to new research and other networks that are of value to the university of applied sciences.

With their knowledge networks and lecturers, universities of applied sciences are profiling themselves more and more as knowledge institutes and specialised universities. Universities of Applied Sciences often work together actively with universities and knowledge-intensive companies in research and education. Your tasks vary from research and research development to supervising thesis projects or internal supervision of PhD students.

  • You can work in an environment with a focus on educating students and transferring knowledge.
  • There is a strong link to practice, which is apparent in both education and research. As a result, you contribute directly to solving practical and societal issues.
  • Teaching and research can be easily combined.
  • Personal initiative is valued and you often work in a team. This is particularly attractive if you find working as a solo researcher to be too isolating.
  • Universities of Applied Sciences offer an excellent collective labour agreement, with working conditions comparable to universities. Part-time employment is also possible. You are given ample opportunity to develop your professional knowledge and skills.
  • Een dynamische branche

Command of the Dutch language

A basic command of the Dutch language is often a precondition for employment at Universities of Applied Sciences. And being prepared to invest in developing your Dutch language skills is important. As mentioned in JuanFra's personal story.

Universities of Applied Sciences: growing number of university graduates

There are 36 funded Universities of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands that, like other universities, offer both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes.

Over the past ten years, the legally required research task of Universities of Applied Sciences has steadily increased.

The number of colleagues in higher professional education with a university degree is also on the rise. Currently, 70 percent of professors at Universities of Applied Sciences has an academic background or PhD degree. This percentage will increase further in coming years. This is because Universities of Applied Sciences aim to firmly embed a research and knowledge-oriented attitude. Professorships and research and management positions, are therefore more often becoming a requirement within many Universities of Applied Sciences.