School History

School History

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University first opened its doors in 1970 in an elegant villa in the Rotterdam suburb of Kralingen. From these humble beginnings, RSM has grown into one of Europe’s most successful and internationally-recognised business schools, as reflected in the rankings of national and international media such as Elsevier and Financial Times. 

RSM’s Alma Mater, Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) has been in existence in its present form since 1973. Its history, however, dates back to 1913, the year in which the Netherlands School of Commerce (Nederlandsche Handels-Hoogeschool, NHH) was founded through private initiative with broad support from the Rotterdam business community. In 1939 the Netherlands School of Commerce became the Netherlands School of Economics.

The history of RSM dates back to 1966 when the Netherlands School of Economics commissioned an investigation into the feasibility of a Graduate School of Management, thus establishing a separate field of study dedicated to the subject of business administration. This initiative was joined two years later by the Delft University of Technology.

At the same time, a consensus on the lack of suitable post-experience training and higher educational facilities for managers in the Netherlands, spurred Dutch-based multinationals including Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever and Philips to establish the Foundation for Business Administration, an institute for post academic management education.

The founding partners donated 4,5 million guilders (approx. 2,2 million euro) in total and included (the predecessor of):

  • Algemene Bank Nederland (ABN AMRO)
  • Algemene Kunstzijde Unie
  • Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank
  • Koninklijke Hoogovens en Staalfabrieken (TATA)
  • Koninklijke Zout/ Ketjen (AKZO NOBEL)
  • Philips Gloeilampen Fabriek (lighting)
  • Shell
  • Unilever

The result, inaugurated in 1969, was the ‘Interfaculteit Bedrijfskunde / Graduate School of Management’, a joint initiative of the schools of economics, law and social sciences of the Netherlands School of Economics, and of the schools of civil, mechanical and maritime engineering and general sciences at the Delft University of Technology.  The school became the first in the Netherlands to offer the degree “Doctorandus in de Bedrijfskunde” post-kandidaats, for students with a university qualification in a non-business discipline. 

In 1970 the first class, comprising of thirty students selected out of hundreds of applicants, started their studies. From the very beginning, the School held a policy of international orientation. In 1972 the school moved to Delft and was remodelled into the newly established ‘Interuniversitaire Interfaculteit Bedrijfskunde / Graduate School of Management Delft’ of the Interuniversity Institute for Business Administration (‘Interuniversitair Instituut Bedrijfskunde’, IIB). In November of the same year, the first 29 students graduated with the new academic degree ‘Doctorandus in de Bedrijfskunde’ (Drs.). The alumni association was formally established this same day: the Alumni Association VIB, the ‘Vereniging van afgestudeerden van de Interfaculteit Bedrijfskunde’ – nowadays STAR.  

In 1984 the school moved back to Rotterdam to become part of Erasmus University. Due to a change in the Dutch higher education system, new degree programmes were started. First in 1984 with the four-year Doctorandus programme in Business Administration (Bedrijfswetenschappen), in 1985 the International MBA Programme, in 1986 the PhD in Management Programme. In 1989 the doctoral programme was established as well as the Executive Education programmes. In 1993, the ERASM research school was founded, bringing together researchers from the Faculty of Business Administration and the School of Economics. Known today as the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), it has since become one of Europe’s leading management research facilities. In 1995 the Part-time Doctorandus in Business Administration (Bedrijfswetenschappen) was launched. In 1999, a series of Executive Education programmes were initiated.

In 1995, RSM launched its Executive MBA programme for experienced and globally-oriented professionals.

In 2002, RSM joined with four top school’s located in three continents to create the Global Executive OneMBA, the world’s first truly global MBA programme.

Over the years the variety of MSc programmes has grown considerably and counts now 16 different pre-and post-experience Master programmes.


In October 2012, RSM opened up its office in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam. Having educated generations of business leaders, RSM will now provide its training right where it is needed – in the heart of the Amsterdam business district, the home of hundreds of top global companies.

As a result courses are provided closer to Amsterdam professionals’ place of work and RSM is able to offer better support to a large number of its alumni community. In addition the move will enable RSM to improve and keep current its corporate partnerships close to their home turf. These are vital relations that help it deliver cutting edge education whilst offering companies access to its business research alongside opportunities for recruitment.


In 1975, the curriculum was revised and, from 1977 onwards, the focus turned towards the internationalisation of the school. The first exchange programme was established with Wharton in 1977. The number of English-language modules with an international focus expanded. In 1984, the four-year ‘doctorandus’ programme was launched. The first European CEMS master’s degree was conferred in 1991, a result of RSM’s assimilation into the prestigious CEMS network. Next to CEMS, RSM is a member of the PIM network, the EFMD network and of GMAC.  

In 2003, the international bachelor programme (IBA) was established – an English-language bachelor programme with a recruitment target of 50% of students from outside the Netherlands. As of 2006, all Master programmes are taught in English. Meanwhile the school has continued to internationalise, today claiming a place amongst the most international schools in Europe.


RSM was among the first European schools to receive AACSB accreditation in 1998. Even more, RSM is among the 1% (57) of schools worldwide with Triple Crown accreditation, meaning we are also AMBA (1996) and EQUIS (1998) accredited. Being triple accredited is an exclusive quality indicator and highlights our international reputation. RSM is also accredited by the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science (KNAW) since 1999 and by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO) since 2007. More on accreditations..

In 2011, the school welcomed Steef van de Velde as a dean. He is professor of Operations Management & Technology and before this appointment he was Vice Dean of RSM. He holds an MSc (1985) in Econometrics from Erasmus School of Economics and a PhD in Mathematics and Computer Science from Eindhoven University of Technology. His research interests lie in the area of (behavioural) supply chain management and operational excellence.