Ruud van der Horst studied Social Education Care at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, and Sociology at the University of Groningen. Afterwards he worked as a researcher at Forensic Psychiatric centre Dr. S. Van Mesdag. From 2010, Van der Horst worked as a researcher (in the field of forensic care) at the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Justice and Security.
Van der Horst currently combines the position of professor with his appointment as scientific advisor at the Expertise Centre Forensic Psychiatry (EFP), where he has been responsible for the programme Quality Forensic Care for a long time. More recently, he has been focusing on craftsmanship and increasing the expertise of professionals in the Forensic Care field. He was one of the founders of the Forensic Learning Track and is closely involved in the development of a Professionalism programme within the forensic care sector.
Ruud van der Horst obtained his PhD in 2011 from the University Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS), Groningen University, on the relationship between social interaction of forensic detainees and offending behaviour/risk of recidivism.