Bachelor of Science in Water Management


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Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Water is one of the most important substances on Earth. It is essential to many of the things we need and enjoy in life: food, transport, and recreation, but managing it can also pose some serious challenges. Around the world, water managers contend with droughts, floods, sea-level rise, overfishing, pollution, plastic soup, and many other risks to both our natural environment and our society. We need water managers to safeguard our future!

During the water management program, you will develop in your own field of expertise as you focus on the major water-related issues facing us today and towards solutions for UN Sustainable Development Goals like freshwater availability, clean seas, food production, healthy ecosystems, biodiversity, and coastal safety.

The HZ enjoys intensive working relationships with professionals in the water sector. You will be working on practical assignments provided by companies or research institutes from the very first day of your study. This is incredibly important, as this will thoroughly prepare you for your career. You will be educated with the latest knowledge from the field and you learn how to effectively combine theory and practice.

Right from the start, you will work on real-life cases discovering your interest and talents. After the first semester, you can opt for one of these three study tracks: Aquatic Ecotechnology, Delta Management, and Spatial Planning & Design. 


Aquatic Ecotechnology

You analyze the fresh and saltwater issues in-depth and suggest solutions to solve them from technical and other perspectives.  You focus on water quantity and quality, water recycling, biology, and restoration of biodiversity to improve ecosystem services. You work with environmental chemistry and learn how to purify water for different purposes. You come up with nature-friendly solutions for traditional flood defense and look at how people can adjust to changing climate patterns.

Year one

In year one you learn everything about the different layers of a delta area: the basic layer, the network layer and the occupation layer. You tackle each layer for an eight week period. You work on biology, ecology, geography, chemistry, economy and management, and policy.

Basic layer (earth and water)

  • Discover all about what’s living in and around the water and how changes in soil can impact the environment.

Network layer (roads, dikes, harbors, and towns)

Ecology is central during this layer. You learn how our ecosystem influences our society and how you can reap the benefits from this. This includes, for example, the energy generated by the sun, the sand which defends the coastline, but also depoldering. You take a look across the borders: how should you be dealing with different climates and cultures? Think about roofs which can be used to grow rice on and which can also purify water at the same time in Asia. You also learn to look ahead. You map out a specific area together with your project group and predict its development during the next fifteen years.

Occupation layer (human activity in the area)

  • You look at the design during this layer: the (re)design of an area for the living environment of both people and animals. You focus on water safety, as well as society and marketing. Nature and water are central focus points here. And finally, you combine everything you have learned in a project and subsequently map out all the layers of a European delta. 

Year two

You work with environmental chemistry: a branch of chemistry focussed on the chemical aspects of the world around us. Important: this mainly concerns substances which have entered the environment as a result of human activities. For example, you analyze a lake within which blue-green algae is growing. Fish die as a result of blue-green algae. The water system is disrupted and can subsequently go smelly and sometimes even toxic. This is becoming increasingly more common as a result of climate and temperature changes. You are able to further develop your knowledge if you have already studied chemistry in your previous education.

You spend the second quarter looking at how people are adjusting to changes in the environment, for example as a result of increased rainfall and the water levels rising in rivers. Think of Louisiana for example an area which is hit by a hurricane on average once every three years. The residents must protect their homes, know their evacuation routes, and be able to build up their living environments again, as soon as they’re allowed back to their own living environment.

Building with nature will be the central focus point during the third quarter. Traditional solutions, such as concrete flood defenses, are often less environmentally friendly. Ecological solutions are therefore now becoming increasingly more important. We are keeping our feet dry, the solution is often more beautiful and nature is central. You learn to calculate whether this solution will still be resistant enough in 100 years’ time. This is done with the use of computer models.

You become acquainted with water technology in the last quarter: purifying water for different applications for people and animals, industry, and nature. Where can you obtain sufficient freshwater and how can you safeguard the water quality? You learn how to remove and purify wastewater.

Year three

You follow a six month minor during the third year of the program. A minor will deepen or broaden your knowledge and skills. You can complete the minor with the research groups from watercourses at the HZ, at another HZ program or you can opt for another university either in the Netherlands or abroad. You will be doing a work experience placement during the second half of the year at an organization in your specific field. You can choose where you want to do this work experience. You could, for example, opt for a placement in the Caribbean in order to restore a coral area, or work on fish farming based on energy and nutrients supplied by nature in the Netherlands.

Year four

You follow the River Basin Management course, whereby you research a river in an international delta area during a field study week. You map out the entire area, including the ecosystem, you identify the problems and come up with recommendations for solving the problems. You can choose to take a more in-depth look at either water technology or natural water systems. You further supplement your program with courses like aquaculture, which sees you tackling, for example, the cultivation of sea fish, shellfish, samphire, and other sea vegetables or the energy from the watercourse.

you spend the last part of your study graduating at an organization of your choice either in the Netherlands or abroad. You can also graduate with one of the research groups. You will need to hand in a research project at the end of the fourth year, which demonstrates that you have the Bachelor level. This research can include, for example, which requirements water needs to satisfy in the town in order to avoid it being bad for the public’s health, or the development of a method which a nature organization can use to assess water, allowing it to implement a suitable fish policy.

Delta Management

As a Delta Manager, you integrate multiple disciplines to develop a vision on climate challenges in an area. You develop strategies by taking into account economic, ecological, spatial, and social aspects of a river delta area. Together with stakeholders, you develop effective measures to deal with climate change. You will learn project- and process management and cross-cultural communication skills to manage complex water- and climate change-related projects worldwide. 

Year one

The first semester you have courses with all Water management students on generic topics as water challenges related to Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Furthermore, you will get introduced to track-specific courses to prepare you on choosing a track after the first semester. You will work on professional development, your Dutch/English skills, and research. In the second semester, you will start to develop your vision making skills and project management skills. You will learn about water safety and how to involve stakeholders.  

Year two

You get to work on a design for a European area which is prone to flooding. You will be commissioned by a European municipality to prepare a vision for their area, in order to make it more resistant to the effects of climate change. You thereby look at the social, economic, political, legal, and cultural aspects. You learn how to digitally map out an area and how to graphically design your project.

America is the central focus point during the second half of the year, especially the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana. This delta area is one of America’s biggest nature areas and is under threat by natural disasters such as hurricanes. Climate change has resulted in a rise in the river water, which inevitably means more and more parts of the area are disappearing into the river. You draft a strategic plan for part of this area, where you opt for either a town or a nature area. Your design serves to improve the safety of the area, whilst keeping a firm focus on nature. You take the local and national political, cultural and social situation into account.

Year three

You follow a six month minor during the third year. A minor will deepen or broaden your knowledge and skills. You can complete the minor with the research groups from watercourses at the HZ, at another HZ course or you can opt for another university either in the Netherlands or abroad. You do a work experience placement either at home or abroad during the second half of the year at an organization in your specific field. You can choose where you want to do this work experience. You could, for example, opt for a work experience placement in Vietnam, where you could look at how different districts within a large town could deal with climate changes, for example, the removal of water after heavy rainfall. Or you could decide to work for a harbor company, in order to work on making the harbor area future resistant.

Year four

Asia is central during your final year: Vietnam and the Mekong Delta. Climate change has resulted in the Mekong Delta now being one of the most threatened delta areas in the world. If the sea level rises by 1 meter, 38% of this area will be underwater. This has consequences for food production. You and your project team will be working on spatial design for part of this delta. The design contributes to ensuring there is sufficient fresh water, food, coastal protection, and sufficient space for tourism and recreation. This allows you to give the local economy an effective boost.

As a manager of a Belgian coastal area, you also start tackling the prevention of flooding in year 4, using natural solutions like green dikes, flood-resistant constructions, and generating energy from water. You do this together with students from other water specializations. And finally, you conclude your studies in this academic year with a research project. You could, for example, look at how large European harbors can respond to the consequences of climate change, or you could issue advice regarding the way in which an executor can prevent the formation of blue-green algae.

Spatial Planning & Design

You focus on adaptive planning and the design of economically and socially dynamic areas under the pressure of climate change. You monitor the effects of climate change and design spatial solutions on how cities and rural areas can deal with water challenges. You have to be creative in plan and design for improving the local context. You will learn how to 2D and 3D visualize and communicate your strategies.

Year one

The first semester you have courses with all Water management students on generic topics as water challenges related to Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Furthermore, you will get introduced to track-specific courses to prepare you on choosing a track after the first semester. You will work on professional development, your Dutch/English skills, and research. In the second semester, you will start to develop your drawing and designing skills. You will learn about planning policies and -regulations.

Year two

Apply your planning and design skills in international cases. You will learn about the connection between spatial planning and topics as a circular economy, sustainable tourism, mobility, and energy. Plan and design for different local contexts. There will also be a project on landscape design and rural planning. You will go on excursions and a project week abroad. 

Year three

In the third year, you can go to other countries for your minor and/or internship! You can choose a minor at HZ or a minor at another university in the Netherlands or in another country. And you can do your internship in the Netherlands or in another country. 

Year four

You will apply your skills and make a design for a complex project where topics as adaptation, mitigation, sustainability, climate change, infrastructure, tourism, food, energy, urbanization come together. You will also work together on a challenge with students from other study programs on a project from a real client. And you will do your graduation research. This can be done in the Netherlands or in another country. 


Three-year track Water Management

With your pre-university diploma, you can qualify for the English-language three-year track of the Water Management program if you meet the admission requirements. If you opt for this track, you will be in a class with international students. Note: the three-year track is not available for Spatial Planning & Design. 


During the first semester, you follow lectures together with the students who are doing the four-year program. You get to know your fellow students and the water management program, and you decide which specialization you want to follow. Subsequently, you spend two six-month periods studying the specialization of your choice. Halfway through the second year, you choose a minor, or you do an internship at home or abroad. In your final study year, you further deepen your knowledge and skills in your chosen field through projects and lectures, and you carry out graduation research in the professional field.


Have you become passionate about your study and would you like to further develop yourself in your professional field? Would a Master's program be something for you? You could choose for the 18-months Master program in River Delta Development, which is a collaboration of HZ University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and Van Hall Larenstein. This way, you can obtain both your Bachelor's and your master’s degree in four-and-a-half years. Employers will be lining up for you upon graduation because you are both practically and analytically trained.


The three-year study program Water Management is taught in English. To be able to start in the second semester of the three-year track, you must have an average of 7.5 or higher on your grade list. If this is the case, you may decide, together with your Study Career Coach, whether the three-year track matches your wishes and requirements.


After applying for the Water Management program, you will be invited for a study choice interview. In that interview, you can indicate that you want to be considered for the three-year track.

Applied research

The domain Technology, Water & Environment includes an applied research center. Research is carried out in four fields: Resilient Deltas, Building with Nature, Aquaculture, and Water Technology. Students, researchers, and lecturers work together to conduct research on these themes in cooperation with companies, governmental organizations, and other research institutes.

Applied research is closely combined with education. Our lecturers participate in research and researchers give lectures. Often the assignments you face during your classes are part of challenging projects the research groups deal with. Furthermore, you can choose to carry out your internship, minor, or graduation project with a research group. 


Before you apply to the Water Management program, you have to meet a few admission requirements. 

Admission requirements

To qualify for admission to the Water Management program you need:

  • A qualification equivalent to a Dutch secondary education diploma, which gives you access to higher education.
  • Good knowledge of one or more of the following subjects is preferable: biology, chemistry, mathematics, or economics.

Alternative entrance exam

  • If you don’t have the appropriate secondary school diploma, and if you are at least 21 years old, you may be exempted from this requirement. The HZ provides the possibility of taking an alternative entrance exam. 

Language requirements

  • All courses and examinations will be in English, so you need a good command of spoken and written English. The level required for admission should be an equivalent of the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 6.0. 


Tuition fees

The amount that you will be required to pay depends on your nationality and the program you have applied for.


  • 2020-2021 tuition fees for EU-students are: €2.143*

* 50% reduction tuition fees

EU-students and students with a Norwegian, Swiss, Icelandic, Liechtenstein, or Suriname nationality are entitled to a 50% reduction on Dutch tuition fees for the first study year. The halving applies to all students who for the first time in the academic year start a bachelor's degree (or associate degree) at a funded university of applied sciences or research universities in the Netherlands. Students who pay institutional tuition fees are not entitled to the halving of the tuition fees. 

Non-EU students:

  • 2020-2021 Institutional tuition fees for non-EU students are: €7.835

Fees and finances

Next to the tuition fees and cost of living there are extra costs for your study program (study materials and books). These costs are approximately €300,- for the full study program.  You will have excursions on a regular basis. 


While common in other countries, scholarships, especially full scholarships, are rare in the Dutch education system. However, there are some scholarship options available at the HZ.

Holland Scholarship for incoming students

The Holland Scholarship is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and Dutch research universities and universities of applied sciences. The Holland Scholarship is for incoming students not originally from the EEA who have not previously studied in the Netherlands, and who plan to attend the HZ University of Applied Sciences in the framework of diploma mobility. The scholarship awarded is not a full scholarship. It has a value of € 5,000.00 and is allotted for one year only. 

Conditions for allotment: 

  • The student is not from the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA consists of the EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
  • The student has not previously studied in the Netherlands.
  • The student has an IELTS of 6.5 (or higher) or an equivalent.
  • The student wants to enroll in a fulltime (four-year or three-year) bachelor’s program at HZ.
  • The student has already been (conditionally) accepted to the HZ Bachelor’s program indicated with his/her scholarship application.

How to apply for the Holland Scholarship  

Students can apply for the scholarship by sending an email to before 1 May of their starting year. In this email, the student should indicate the reasons for choosing the particular HZ Bachelor program of study. The student must also send a copy of his/her CV with the email. The applications will be assessed by a two-member HZ Scholarship Committee, nominated by the academy directors. The HZ Scholarship Committee will award the scholarship based on previous academic results, motivation for choosing a program of study, and C.V. applicants will be notified of the decision within 6 weeks after the application deadline of 1 May. 

Mobility scholarships

When you are a student at HZ University of Applied Sciences and you are thinking of studying or doing research or an internship outside of the Netherlands during your studies, then you can apply for a scholarship. 

HZ Grant

HZ offers an HZ Grant for students who study or do an unpaid internship outside the EU. As far as we know, HZ is the only university of applied sciences in the Netherlands that subsidizes its students with a grant.

Holland Scholarship

This scholarship is meant for full-time HZ students who want to study, do research, or an internship outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA consists of the EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The Holland Scholarship is a scholarship made available by the Dutch Ministry of Education Culture and Science together with Dutch research universities and universities of applied sciences. The scholarship amounts to a one-off payment of € 1,250 and is meant as a contribution towards your study expenses. 

Erasmus+ grant

If you do part of your study at an HZ partner institute within the EU or an internship within the EU, you can apply for this grant. The Erasmus+  is a grant that the European Union has made available in order to stimulate students from its member states to gain experience abroad during their education; to enhance their languages, to become acquainted with other cultures, etc. The grant also serves as compensation in the travel and accommodation costs that a study/internship abroad will bring in its wake. Clearly, the Erasmus+ grant will not cover all the costs that you will have abroad.

As soon as you are a student of HZ, we can help you apply for a grant. 


After graduation

Bachelor's degree

Congratulations, you're graduated! From now on you may use the title ‘Bachelor of Science’.

Did you participate in the Honors Program? You will get an extra certificate with your bachelor's degree.

Career prospects

As a water manager, your skills are valuable equally in the public and private sectors. You can work at all levels of the government or water authorities or Research institutes, consultancies, engineering companies, and industries.

With Aquatic Ecotechnology, you can work as a water consultant, assistant researcher, policy officer, expert, or project coordinator. If you further specialized in Water Technology, you can work as a water engineer, analyst, or wastewater treatment engineer. 

With a specialization in Delta Management, you can work as an assistant researcher, consultant, assistant area manager, designer, or project coordinator.

With a specialization in Spatial Planning & Design, you can work as an assistant urban planner, a strategic advisor, and advisor spatial planning. You can work for organizations like GIZ, Unesco, government, NGO's, and consultancy firms.  

Further studies

With a bachelor's degree from the HZ, you can continue studying towards your Master’s degree (Msc.) at HZ by choosing for our Master's program River Delta Development. When you choose this program, you are able to get your Bachelor's and Master's degree in 5,5 years.  

If you decide to continue your education abroad, you can do so immediately after graduating from the HZ. If you choose to further your studies at a research university in the Netherlands, a pre-master might be required.


Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

HZ University of Applied Sciences is located in the South-West of the Netherlands. With a population of some 4,800 national and international students, we are a small university with a personal approa ... Read More

HZ University of Applied Sciences is located in the South-West of the Netherlands. With a population of some 4,800 national and international students, we are a small university with a personal approach. HZ offers high-quality study programs. Since 2011 -so for the past nine years- HZ has been in the top three of Dutch multidisciplinary universities of applied sciences. Read less
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