The safe and multicultural environment with affordable study costs provided by the Netherlands makes this country an incredibly attractive destination for your studies abroad. One of the first countries to offer international study programmes taught entirely in English and known for the innovative and very straight forward teaching style draws tens of thousands of international students worldwide each year.
Applying to a Dutch university is pretty straight forward as well. However, you should keep a few things in mind before applying.
1. Choose the right degree subject in the Netherlands
- Master degrees in Visual Arts in the Netherlands
- Master degrees in Biomedical Engineering in the Netherlands
- Master degrees in Health Sciences in the Netherlands
- Master degrees in Media Studies in the Netherlands
- Master degrees in Psychology in the Netherlands
2. Choose the right Dutch university
Here are some top Dutch universities you should consider for your study abroad adventure:
- Utrecht University
- Erasmus University Rotterdam
- Radboud University
- University of Twente
- Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
- Tilburg University
3. Prepare to apply
- Before you choose your degree at a Dutch university, do your research rigorously and make sure it fits your interests and career goals. See Bachelor's and Master's courses in the Netherlands.
- Check out if you match with the entry requirements and admission qualifications of the university. Your educational background and grade point average from your prior studies will determine if you qualify for your chosen degree.
- For some Master programmes, there is an online eligibility check available within universities, meant to help students find out if they are eligible for that specific programme.
- Be careful to check if you have to pay the Statutory tuition fee (for EU/EEA students and a few exceptions for non-EU/EEA) or the Institutional tuition fee (usually, for non-EU/EEA students).
- Look for scholarship opportunities to cover your study expenses.
- Figure out if you need a student visa. In this case, you will need to prepare necessary documents in advance.
4. Where to apply
Where to apply for degrees with no restrictions
1. Join the Numerus Fixus degree course lottery– a university application system managed by the Dutch government. With Numerus Fixus, you increase your chances of being admitted to a degree course. However most of the programmes are taught in Dutch. The main exceptions when you can apply to an English-taught degree via Numerus Fixus are Medicine, Psychology, International Business Administration, and Physiotherapy.
2. Apply directly to the universities websites after carefully checking the entry requirements for your desired study programmes.
Where to apply for degrees with local restrictions
1. For some degree programmes, you can apply through Studielink (similar to UCAS system in the UK). Studielink allows you to apply for up to four courses at a time. You have the possibility to change the courses you wish to apply for at any time before the enrollment deadline. If you are rejected by one university, you can then apply to another one. Furthermore, from 2019-2020 you will also be able to apply to Numerus fixus programmes via Studielink.
2. The Dutch Ministry of Education can set a national quota for various degrees offered by universities.
Sometimes, the number of students who wish to enrol on a certain programme exceeds this national quota. In this case, students are advised to rank the institutions in order of preference, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are not eligible for being admitted.
DUO (part of the Dutch Ministry of Education) administrates places on limited quota degree courses and may require you to submit certified copies of your academic records.
5. Language requirements for Dutch university application
If you want to apply for an English-taught degree, the accepted certifications are: TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge.
If you want to pursue your studies in Dutch, you need to pass the Dutch TUL intermediate exam or hold a Dutch NT2-II diploma.
6. Required application documents
- A copy of passport or ID card
- A passport picture
- A personal statement in English (should contain around 500-800 words answering questions such as: Why and what would you like to study at the university? What are your plans after graduation?)
- Copies of obtained secondary school diplomas, certificates and/or grade lists (uploaded diplomas and/or grade lists which are not in English, French, German or Dutch need to be accompanied by an official English translation)
- Transcript of records
- Proof of English/Dutch language proficiency
- Proof of payment of application fee (50 EUR)
Some universities may require additional documents, such as:
- CV or resume (including two referees)
- Motivation letter
- Sample of academic written work
7. University application deadlines for the Netherlands
Check the application deadline directly with the universities you are interested in because they may vary.
- The application deadline for most courses: 1st of May
- In some universities, the application deadline is: 1st of February or the 1st of March
- For the Numerous Fixus and DUO platform, the deadline is typically 15th of January
The general recommendation is that you apply by mid-April at the latest so that you will have enough time to arrange your visa (if you need one) and housing before you start your studies.
Set up your account on Studielink by the 1st of May.
If you have applied for a limited quota programme, earlier deadlines may apply.
8. Final steps after receiving your university acceptance letter
Studying in the Netherlands means a few extra steps after the application process:
- Settle your health insurance. If you are coming from an EU country than the health insurance in your country may also work in the Netherlands. But you will need to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to make use of this. If health insurance not valid, you will have to pay 80 – 160 EUR per month to cover this.
After arriving in the Netherlands:
- For EU students: contact a local governing body to receive a personal public service number (BSN).
- For non-EU students: you will have to get a residence permit; the university will apply on your behalf, you just have to submit the required documents.
Students must officially enrol in the university before they can start their classes. You should also pay your tuition fee!
Some good news regarding this aspect is that EU/EEA and Suriname Bachelor's students you will only pay half of the tuition fee in the first year if they start a programme in 2018-2019. The key condition to be eligible is to not have studied in the Netherlands before.
The fee discount also applies to Master’s degrees in Initial Teacher Education, provided that you start a Bachelor’s in Education in 2018-2019.
Non-EU students must apply for the Netherlands visa. Here is detailed information about the student visa application process for students coming from a non-EU country: