Studying Forensic Psychology in the Netherlands

If you are interested in studying forensic psychology, either as a graduate or post-graduate student, this resource will be perfect for you!

The Netherlands is a small country located in the heart of Europe. It is home to the tallest people in the world (almost 17 million inhabitants) and 2/3 of the land is below sea level. The word Dutch refers to the people, the language and everything that belongs to this country. The Dutch are friendly, open-minded and internationally oriented people. The Netherlands is often incorrectly called Holland. But it is important to note that Holland only refers to two of the 12 provinces in the Netherlands.

Studying in the Netherlands

Why would you want to study in the Netherlands? Check out this video! The education system is known for its high quality and its international study environment. The oldest University is Leiden University, which was opened in 1575. Today there are 18 research universities which offer Bachelor, Master and PhD degree programs.

Several universities offer Bachelor programs in psychology but most of them are offered only in Dutch. One alternative for English taught Bachlor programs are the University Colleges. University Colleges are characterized by an open curriculum. This means that students can construct their own curriculum and combine their interests from different fields. For students interested in psychology and law this offers a unique opportunity to already combine these two interests in their undergraduate studies. Currently there are five university colleges in the Netherlands (Amsterdam University College, Leiden University College, Roosevelt Academy Middleburg, University College Maastricht and University College Utrecht).

Accredited academic Master program in forensic psychology, is offered by the faculty of psychology and neuroscience of Maastricht University. It is a two year program which started in September 2011. It integrates and combines clinical and research skills in the field of forensic psychology. For more information about the program and admission requirements have a look at their website. The faculty of psychology and neuroscience has a forensic psychology section with an excellent group of researchers. Two of the most prominent ones are Harald Merckelbach and Corine de Ruiter. Furthermore, Maastricht University offers two other accredited master programs within the field of forensic psychology: Forensics, criminology and law which is offered by the law faculty and Psychology & Law, which is offered by the faculty of psychology and neuroscience. Tilburg University also offer a Dutch-taught master's program in clinical forensic psychology (link). From 2017, Tilburg University started running a new bachelor program which includes a major in forensic psychology  (link). The bachelor program includes two tracks, one for Dutch students, and one for international students (English-taught), making it a unique program for the Netherlands and one of the few exceptions outside the UK to study forensic psychology in the bachelor's.



The PhD is the highest possible degree one can obtain at a Dutch university. Unlike other programs around the world, doing a PhD in the Netherlands means being employed as a staff member rather than being enrolled as a student. Most programs do not have compulsory classes, which means that you have the freedom to devote your time to your research projects in combination with a small amount of teaching hours. Even thought not mandatory, most universities do offer PhD courses, for example in statistics. Usually PhD vacancies are advertised on the website of the university, in scientific journals and/or on (click on ‘English’ on the top right of the page if you do not understand Dutch). Such vacancies are usually for a 4 year project with a specific topic.

Who's who in the Netherlands

Some of the people working in the field of forensic psychology in the Netherlands (in alphabetical order):

  • Ton Broeders (Leiden University, The Maastricht Forensic Institute)
  • Hans Crombag (Maastricht University)
  • Henk Elffers (VU University Amsterdam)
  • Marko Jelicic (Maastricht University)
  • Peter van Koppen (VU University Amsterdam, Maastricht University)
  • Harald Merckelbach (Maastricht University)
  • Eric Rassin (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Corine de Ruiter (Maastricht University)

Last words

Even though the amount of offered programs within the field of forensic psychology is rather small in the Netherlands, the excellent quality of the programs makes it worth to consider coming here. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions or comments about studying abroad.


-Jenny Schell





Below you will find links to the articles from our studying abroad series: