Educational concept

Studying at NHL Stenden is about more than just attending lectures. On the contrary, we encourage you to explore what happens in real life. You will be tackling current issues in the field while working closely with your fellow students, organisations and businesses. The DBE educational concept is based on the following five pillars:

  1. Design Thinking
    You will be focusing on current issues, practice-oriented research, and innovation. You might have to come up with an idea and a product for reducing breakfast waste in hotels, develop a business plan for a vegetarian fast food chain, or devise a plan to turn employees into 'happy workers'. Design Thinking is a certain way of thinking and focuses on finding solutions.
  2. International & intercultural
    Working with students, lecturers and organisations from various cultural backgrounds will turn you into a 'world-wise' citizen who feels at home in an international context. And during our PPD (personal professional development) sessions, you will learn even more about yourself. We also offer two other ways of gaining invaluable international experience: the Grand Tour, during which you study at various international universities of applied science, and our Exchange with an international student.
  3. Multidisciplinary
    Co-creation is the name of the game. This means working with lecturers, companies and researchers. In the future, you will also be working with other study programmes, both within and outside of NHL Stenden.
  4. Sustainable
    You will develop learning skills as well as your own professional identity. Based on this identity, you come up with solutions for society.
  5. Personal leadership
    You are proactive and continue to develop, even after your graduation. You know how to adapt to changing circumstances, using your well-developed professional identity and your own (moral) compass.
Real world learning

Examples Design Challenges

Examples of practical research topics at Hotel Management School

These are some Design Challenges our second year students face:

  • Create a business plan for a healthy (vegetarian) international fast food chain
  • Develop a tree house park as a tourist attraction
  • Develop an HR strategy for a large international hotel chain (more than 250 branches)
  • How do you achieve a climate-neutral hotel within 10 years?


This way of learning is truly different from what you may be used to. To illustrate this, we have highlighted a number of differences:







No more boring classrooms with school desks. Our workshops have been designed to business standards. Click here for an impression of our workshops.

School days

Contact hours

Normally, you'd be at school from 8.30am to 3pm. With DBE, you attend school for a few hours a day – about 16 contact hours a week. These hours are mandatory. Besides these contact hours, you will be working with your study group and studying independently. The total study load is 40 hours per week on average.

Classes of 30+ students

Classes of 25 students, work groups of max 5 students

We do have collective lectures on specific subjects with more than 40 students. The course work (Design Challenges), however, takes place in groups of approximately 25 students, which are divided into work groups of up to 5 students.

Lecturer - subject-specific


The Facilitator (lecturer) helps you focus on your topic at hand, supports your group throughout the process and monitors progress.


Our Experts teach specific subjects such as statistics, marketing, economics and law. You can contact our experts for any specific questions about your Design Challenge – if you have a question about calculating the cost of something, for example, one of our experts in Economics will be able to help. Our experts will provide you with the tools to develop the solution to your specific research topic.



An Activator is your mentor and your coach. Your Activator can help you with all your questions, not just about the programme's contents, but about anything you're dealing with. Think of them as your study coach.

Practical lecturer

Practical Facilitator

During the practical part of the programme, you will be supported by a Practical Facilitator. This practical might take place at our own 4-star hotel or restaurant.

Tests or school exams

Course work and Professional Knowledge Progress Assessment

Your learning outcomes will be tested at the end of the period. Your final assignment (Professional Product) is the result of your Design Challenge. Your mark will consist of both a group mark and an individual mark. In addition, once a year you will sit a Professional Knowledge Progress Assessment, for which you will be graded.



Levels instead of academic years. You learn at your own pace, which may take longer or shorter than a year. If you already have relevant experience, through work or study for example, you can start at the next level.


DBE explained, including student experiences

This video explains what Design Based Education (DBE) is and shows the experiences of two of our students working with DBE.