I completed my Master’s degree at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. However, in the Netherlands, a Bachelor’s degree from a university of applied sciences is not considered equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree from a university. Therefore, before I could start the Master’s program, I completed the Premaster, which is intended to align the knowledge of the Bachelor students of the university of applied sciences and the university.
Personally, I did not understand it, as I had learned the theory already. However, after completing the Premaster I was convinced that I had an even more complete picture of Human Resource Management and the connections with other fields like business administration, psychology, technology, labor law, higher mathematics. However, I did not learn any new theory or concepts (except statistics). I also used the time to improve my English skills and raise them to the Netherlands’ academic level.
During the Premaster, I completed the following subjects: ‘Work, Well-being and Performance’, ‘Strategic Human Resource Management’, ‘Research’, as well as ‘Causal Analysis Techniques and Methods’, ‘Measurements and Statistics’.
I was already familiar with the subject matter of ‘Work, Well-being, and Performance’ and ‘Strategic Human Resource Management’ from my Bachelor’s degree. However, in the lectures, I got to know and understand better the comprehensive theory behind the concepts and methods, in a total of 19 lectures and 16 tutorials/practicals of two hours each.
Causal Analysis Techniques and Methods’ and ‘Measurements and Statistics’ served as preparation for the HR Analytics lecture in the Master’s program. We learned to apply causal analysis and other statistical methods in 28 lectures and 16 tutorials/practicals of 2 hours.
In preparation for writing the master thesis, we had to write a scientific paper in ‘Research’ and participate in 4 lectures to learn the concept and writing style of a scientific paper.
The focus in ‘Work, Well-being, and Performance’ was on understanding the current theory and research of work psychology, the relationship between work and health, well-being, and performance. Current topics such as stress/burnout as well as aging at work and the effects on teams and companies were also highlighted.
‘Strategic Human Resource Management‘ dealt with the question of ‘How’ and ‘Under which circumstances’ Human Resource Management supports organizational performance. What are the downsides of the differentiated workforce, the vital role of departmental and team leaders were highlighted. All core theories were compared, and their application in different types of organizations was discussed.
In ‘Measurements and Statistics‘ descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, and statistical testing were explained. Furthermore, research methods and the design and construction of questionnaires were taught in detail.
‘Causal Analysis Techniques and Methods‘ was the preparation for ‘HR Analytics’ in the Master program. Here, analytical methods and statistical topics were taught. This included ANOVA, multiple OLS regression (including dummy variables, interaction or moderation effects), path analysis (including mediation effects), and logistic regression.
Creating a conceptual framework and model, selecting literature, formulating the research question and hypotheses was part of ‘Research‘. The structure of the argumentation, data collection, research ethics, as well as the interpretation and discussion of the results, were also taught. The focus was on improving academic skills, such as analytical skills, critical reflection, giving and receiving effective feedback, and presenting research.
Tilburg University designed the Premaster as a one-year full-time course. Due to feedback from students and faculty, the duration was halved. In the school year 2018/19 (when I did the Premaster), this was the first time this was held as a half year program. This change was only decided shortly before, so the content of the yearly program remained the same. In other words, we had the same amount of learning, tasks, and projects to complete, but in half the time that was planned when the program was designed.
Personally, I found the workload to be normal and was able to work at my usual pace, as I was undoubtedly busier on stressful days at an office. I also found the pace of the lectures not too fast or the number of subjects too many. Only the time to study for the exams was very tight in relation to the amount of exam material.