Do you want to play a crucial role in shaping the river deltas of the future? Are you keen to find solutions to one of this century’s most pressing challenges? Then the master’s degree River Delta Development is for you!

River deltas are not only home to millions of people and several different ecosystems, they are also essential for global food production and economic activity. These areas are under pressure, because of climate change, the rise in sea levels and overpopulation. Floods, subsidence and the salinisation of groundwater are just some of the challenges we face, which is why we need visionaries who can build bridges between ecology, technology and society.

Bring technological change into practice

The programme prepares you for a role as a 'facilitator of change', a professional who makes practical use of advances in technology so that people and nature can live in harmony with water. The focus of the programme is on developing ideas and solutions in which you listen to stakeholders and involve them in sustainable, long-term solutions which receive broad support.

Collaborate with professionals in Living Labs

You combine theoretical knowledge about the way delta systems function with practical assignments in 'Living Labs', real locations in delta areas where you work together with local communities, companies and policy makers. For example, how do you design a climate-resistant riverbank for the Grevelingenmeer that everyone is happy to support? You look at technological possibilities, costs and the risk of rises in water level, and the needs of both residents and farmers.

Study in 3 places in the Netherlands

This master’s is a unique joint degree from three institutes of higher learning with special expertise in water: HZ University of Applied Sciences (coastal area), Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (river systems) and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (urban water). Studying and working at these three locations will increase your understanding of different types of delta area and your network within the field.

After you have completed your studies, you can work for international organizations, consultancy firms, government agencies or NGOs. Whether you choose a career as an urban planner in a big city built near water, a consultant on sustainable agriculture in a fertile delta or a researcher into healthy river systems – the world is your oyster.

This is River Delta Development

Read all about studying at 3 different universities of applied sciences during 1 master's programme here

Your Master’s programme will start with an intensive, one-month orientation. During that month, you will get to know your fellow students, lecturers, and professors and delve into the delta during a one-week field trip. Afterwards, you will use those experiences to analyse the entire delta system and examine what role you would like to play in the delta sector. You will then write a personal learning plan under the guidance of your coach. The kick-off will be held at HZ in Middelburg.

After the kick-off, you will be introduced to the Coast delta system, which will also be held at HZ. You will be working in Living Labs, with one day a week spent at the university of applied sciences, where you will participate in lectures, coaching, and reflection. After 15 weeks of research, you will complete this period with an evaluation week during which you will undergo assessments of your own research in relation to the delta as a whole and the issues at work in that environment. Under the guidance of lecturers, you will also collectively examine how everyone’s research fits into the entire delta system. Similar blocks on River systems (at Van Hall Larenstein in Velp) and Urban Water (at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences) will follow. The three blocks, which work on building your knowledge, research skills, and specific professional development, will last a total of 17 weeks at each university of applied sciences.

After completing the three blocks, there will be a final phase of 17 weeks, during which you will create and present a final product. In conclusion, the last, integral competencies will be tested by means of a portfolio and oral final assessment. The final stage takes place at one of the three universities of applied sciences of your choice.

Do you want to be prepared for an ever-changing work field with professional practice and practical research?

Then the master River Delta Development is for you!

Learning together in living labs

The tasks in delta areas are so big and the systems so complex that simple solutions are often not possible. Fundamental interventions are needed. That is why Living Labs have been set up; testing grounds in which professional practice and universities of applied sciences work together on complex tasks.

As a student of the River Delta Development master's programme, you will participate in Living Labs in which the research centres and professorships of the three universities of applied sciences are involved. You will work on location, together with professionals from the field, in multidisciplinary teams on real-life issues.

As a result of sea level rise, longer periods of drought and population growth, the pressure on freshwater availability will only increase further. In the Living Lab 'Fresh water availability', you will investigate the challenges surrounding the distribution and storage of freshwater in an otherwise saline environment. Your research will focus on the Zeeland-Flemish Canal Zone, roughly the area between Terneuzen and Ghent.

In many deltas, there are hugely conflicting interests at play. In the Living Lab 'Dealing with competing spatial claims in deltas', you therefore conduct research into possibilities to provide space for nature, economy, recreation and food production, which is sometimes very limited. Innovative solutions are needed to avoid conflicts between ecological and economic processes, among other things. For this Living Lab, the Oosterschelde, national park and important centre for shellfish cultivation, is your research area.

In many areas, the risks of floods, droughts and other extreme weather events such as heatwaves are getting bigger and bigger, according to studies by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Already, societies will have to adapt to their effects. But how? In the Living Lab 'Climate adaptation in coastal areas', you get to work on the challenges surrounding climate change in deltas.

Global population growth combined with the increase in wealth and consumption has led to the impoverishment of 'natural capital', the sum of all natural resources on earth: soil, air, water and living organisms, in recent decades. In the Living Lab 'Nature-based solutions', you investigate the possibilities of restoring damaged ecosystems and increasing their resilience.

Master River Delta Development

Hear more about it here

What our students say

Students share their experiences of studying River Delta Development at HZ Univeristy of Applied Sciences

Picture of Michelle in front of the canal with a bridge in the background
About the programme Study at HZ
Michelle, River Delta Development Alumna

It's great to put your knowledge into practice straight away.

Read the full story from Michelle

Education format and location

The River Delta Development master's is a full-time English-language master's programme. The teaching location varies. You take the first semester at HZ University of Applied Sciences in Middelburg, the second semester at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (HVHL) in Velp and the third half-year block at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. You graduate in the final semester.

An education week consists of one teaching day at the relevant education location and four project days in one of the Living Labs. Depending on your preference, the location of the Living Labs may vary. You can carry out a maximum of one semester of research in a Living Lab abroad.


The colleges will support you, if required, in arranging on-site accommodation. Either by offering accommodation themselves or by putting you in touch with parties who can provide it.

You will find more information on accommodation on these pages:


Tuition fee

  • Dutch and European (EEA) students pay the statutory tuition fee for participation in the River Delta Development Master’s programme.
  • Non-EEA students or students who have completed a Master’s programme in the Netherlands pay the institutional tuition fee.
  • The fee is for one academic year. The Master programme takes 2 years.

Read more about the fees and finances here.

Additional costs
There are no extra costs related to books/readers. We do organise excursions, and you may wish to purchase additional class materials or participate in extra-curricular events. These costs usually amount to roughly €200,- in total.

Your own laptop
The Universities of Applied Sciences have study spaces available, but not all of them are equipped with computers. We recommend and encourage you to bring your own laptop/mobile device. The River Delta Development department recommends you to purchase a laptop if you do not yet have one. Please contact your lecturer for advice if you are considering purchasing a laptop.

Study grants, loans & finances

If you qualify for standard student funding (loans, supplementary grants, and/or student travel passes), you can request these from DUO.

If you are no longer eligible for student funding, then you can still utilise the Lifelong Learning Credit to borrow money to pay the tuition fee, under the following conditions. You can request the Lifelong Learning Credit for the duration of the degree programme in which you are participating.

Are you paying the statutory tuition fee for your degree programme? If so, that is the amount that you can borrow each year. Are you paying the institutional tuition fee? If so, then you can borrow the amount of the statutory tuition fee up to five times per year. In the latter case, you have to provide a statement from the educational institution along with your request for the Lifelong Learning Credit, which indicates the amount of the institutional tuition fee.

The Lifelong Learning Credit can be requested from DUO. More information can be found on this government site. Once you study at HZ and you need a tuition fee/course fee statement, you can download or print this statement yourself in Osiris.

Admission and registration

Admission requirements
In order to qualify for participation in the Master’s programme River Delta Development, applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent qualification from a recognised university (of applied sciences) or accredited academic institution in a discipline related to that of the master’s programme (certified copy of a diploma together with the official transcript of academic records).

Students with the following (Dutch) Bachelor’s degrees are welcome anyway:

  • Water Management CROHO 34074
  • Water Management CROHO 34332
  • Delta Management CROHO 39278
  • Civil Engineering CROHO 34279
  • Urban and Regional Planning CROHO 34282
  • Spatial Development CROHO 30038
  • International Development Management CROHO 34203
  • Coastal and Marine Management CROHO 39204
  • Land and Water Management CROHO 34226
  • Management of the Living Environment CROHO 34859
  • Built Environment CROHO 39280

It is also important that you have a good command of the English language. Read more about the admission requirements.

Admission and registration

A letter of motivation and an intake interview with the admission committee are also part of the selection procedure. The HZ student office will inform you about this. If your letter of motivation and intake interview are both positively assessed, you will be sent confirmation of your admission. You can use this to request any grants you will need.

Read all about our application procedure and apply.

Letter of motivation and intake interview
We select students based on several criteria. These should be addressed in your (English) letter of motivation of ± 750 words:

  • your interest in and knowledge of river deltas and your goals for the master’s programme;
  • your capacity for self-reflection on your current knowledge and skills;
  • your capacity for becoming a facilitator of change - demonstrate your willingness to apply change, innovation and creativity in complex processes.

The intake interview will be about the goals you have set yourself based on your background, and your interest in and knowledge of river deltas. Also we expect you to give an elevator pitch about a river delta case. The intake interview will be in English, so we can assess your proficiency in English.


If you have any questions. please e-mail one of the members of the management team:

Margriet Langenberg-van der Klauw - HZ University of Applied Sciences,
Jan Fliervoet - Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences
Matthijs van Lente – HR University of Applied Sciences.

Want to talk to an advisor? Please fill in the contact form at and we will get in touch with you.

After graduation

After successfully completing the degree programme, you will receive a Master of Science (MSc) diploma.

River Delta Development has been developed in close cooperation with professionals. Governmental institutions as well as consultancies are clear about what they need: professionals who think and work in constructive, integrated ways, who have knowledge of transitional processes and are capable of moving people and organizations to make things happen. The world is in transition (climate, energy, circular economy etc.) and needs people that can facilitate this change. In delta areas many important issues come together, and they are aggravated by high population density and their vulnerable locations. This situation creates a demand for educated, enthusiastic, passionate young people who will take on the role of developing resilient, safe and sustainable delta life.

Job positions you could occupy upon graduating from the master River Delta Development are:

  • process manager
  • initiator of new projects
  • facilitator of civil changes
  • researcher
  • administrator
  • consultant

Freshwater Project Officer in Morocco
De Freshwater Project Officer is responsible for executing a project concerning the water environment in the Sebou delta in Morocco. The project focuses on lessening the impact of water extraction and non-sustainable water infrastructure on the local biodiversity and riverbed, as laid out in relevant documentation. The FPO will create and maintain cooperative networks with project partners, develops working plans, and regulates the implementation thereof, and is responsible for the technical and financial progress reports.

Urban Water, Wastewater and Climate Resilience Senior Associate in the USA
The Senior Associate directs efforts to enhance business opportunities for multilateral development banks, focusing specifically on urban water, wastewater treatment and related issues concerning urban resilience and extreme weather. The SA is responsible for the development and direction of marketing strategies of these multilateral development banks and delivers technical assistance to project employees and other relevant stakeholders to ensure quality and keep projects on schedule.

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer in Bangladesh
Climate change, in the form of intensifying cyclones, surge floods and an increase in sea levels, speeds up the salination process of sweet water in Bangladesh’ coastal areas. This in turn has an impact on the agricultural communities there, who rely on this sweet water supply. Especially women and girls are vulnerable target groups in this. The main aim of the project is to assist the Banglahdeshi government in strengthening local resilience of coastal communities – especially women – in order to meet this growing challenge. The MEO will be responsible for monitoring cost effectiveness and results, as well as delivering quality and timely input, and is to ensure the strategic vision of the project remains intact.

Urban Water and Climate Adaptation Senior Specialist in the Netherlands
The Senior Specialist Urban Water and Climate Adaptation shapes water in urban areas, specifically regarding security, climate resilience, sustainability and quality of life. Possible projects could be securing the climate safety of Utrecht city or Eindhoven airport, developing a climate stress test for municipal governments or developing a masterplan for water management for the Moerdijk port. The Senior Specialist focuses on climate adaptability strategies, sustainability, water structure, measurement and security geohydrology and urban water management by means of modeling, conducting stress tests, analysing measurements, etc.

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