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Academic careers

Those working in the academic sector will already have the Netherlands on their radar. Numerous rankings have the large majority of the Dutch public universities in their global top 200. In addition, the Netherlands is home to many renowned research institutes as well as international businesses that offer attractive opportunities for researchers. We have multiple research institutions in the Netherlands, ranging from universities to public research institutes, academic medical centres and even industry-led institutes, all with their own specialities.

Research universities

Dotted all over the Netherlands are top-notch universities, which provide education at the highest standard and contribute to most of the research that’s carried out in the Netherlands. Currently, there are 18 research universities in the Netherlands. For a complete overview of research universities, visit Universities of The Netherlands.

University medical centres

Considerable innovations in cancer treatment, dementia research and many other fields have come from Dutch academic medical centres, and they therefore play a vital role in our research landscape. We currently have two medical centres in Amsterdam (the Amsterdam UMC hospitals), one in Rotterdam (Erasmus Medical Centre), and others in Leiden, Utrecht, Groningen and Maastricht. These research hospitals often have a specialisation in which they excel.

Women is happy because she graduated and receives her diploma.
©ANP Foto: Ltd RF/Cadalpe

Research institutes

Our research institutes have usually been set up with governmental and industry funding and often work alongside universities in a knowledge-sharing collaboration. One of the largest and best known institutes is the TNO , the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research. Providing in-depth research for a large amount of subjects and industries, their mission is to apply science to benefit both business and governments. Some of the fields the TNO focuses on are sustainable use of space and the environment, ICT and services, quality of life, the defence and security of society, and advanced products, processes and systems. The TO2 Open Innovation Network is another institute that provides R&D for multiple research projects. This institute has a flexible network structure, which enables easier cooperation when creating cross-sectoral research projects.

Other noteworthy institutes with particular specialisations are Deltares, which researches ports, coastlines, rivers, ocean and inland shipping, water management and the environment; the Maritime Research Institute in the Netherlands in the Netherlands (MARIN), which delves deep to learn more about shipbuilding and offshore and ocean engineering; the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), which is specialised in aeronautics and space technology for both civil and defence purposes; and Wageningen University & Research ; which has a clear focus on nature and how it can improve quality of life.


Two PhD students working on a project .
©ANP Foto: Westend61 / Hernandez and Sorokina

The perks of working in Dutch academia

Our universities aren’t just great for students, they’re also very attractive employers, offering opportunities for academic talent from all walks of life. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be fluent in Dutch to seize them. There is a wide selection of English-language degree programmes, making studying and working in academia highly accessible to internationals. Research from 2020 shows that 43% of all  academic staff in the Netherlands were internationals. 

Another unusual feature of the Dutch academic sector is the fact that most PhD candidates have an employment contract. This gives PhD students more security and in turn aids their career development. With an office culture that puts work-life balance first, Dutch universities aren’t just great places to further your career – they will also ensure that you have a pleasant time whilst doing so. All this is combined with full political and academic freedom, making the Netherlands a great environment to work in. 

The Euraxess website also has extensive information about rules and regulations, plus plenty of practical information about coming to the Netherlands as a researcher.


Start your academic career in the Netherlands

If you are interested in an academic career in the Netherlands, then AcademicTransfer can support you in finding your research job, discovering your future career path or getting to know the Netherlands. AcademicTransfer is the Dutch career platform for academia. You’ll find research jobs in higher education, university medical centers, research institutes, governmental institutions and the industry, from PhD positions to senior level jobs. Find your job in the Netherlands.

If you're interested in career opportunities as a researcher in the Netherlands, you can use AcademicTransfer’s career tools to explore career paths within and outside academia. Read stories from other researchers, do a self-assessment and get prepared for your next step. 

Besides jobs and career tools, AcademicTransfer offers some great career advice services. Read their blogcareer advice podcast or attend the webinars to learn more about how to land your next dream job.