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Benefiting from low tuition fees and a range of courses offered in English you could join the 90,000 international students currently studying in the Netherlands

You’ll be surrounded by the tulips, windmills and canals that the country is famous for, and have the luxury of exploring by bicycle, the country’s preferred mode of transport.

You won’t be lost for things to do in this multicultural country – the Netherlands is full of museums, art galleries and vibrant nightlife, making it the perfect student destination.

Once you’ve exhausted all there is to see and do, you’ll be well placed to explore the rest of Europe – popular tourist destinations such as Paris, Brussels and Berlin are just a short train ride away.

The Dutch culture is open-minded and direct, and this extends to the classroom where an interactive, teamwork-based learning style is adopted. During your studies you’ll be encouraged to develop and express your opinions during discussions.

Dutch universities

The Netherlands is home to two main types of institution:

  • Research universities – offering research-based qualifications in an academic setting at Bachelors, Masters and PhD level. There are 14 of these.
  • Universities of Applied Science (UAS) – the country’s 39 UAS institutions offer more vocational courses, focused on practical application of training and education in the arts and sciences. UAS courses offer more opportunities for internships and work experience placements.

There are a smaller number of Institutes for International Education, where postgraduate courses are delivered by those with experience of working in developing countries. These are typically part of research universities.

Universities in the Netherlands make their mark in world rankings, with 13 Dutch institutions appearing in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020. The University of Amsterdam leads the way in 59th place, followed by Delft University of Technology and Wageningan University & Research in 63rd and 64th respectively.

The grading system in the Netherlands is different to what you may be more familiar with in the UK. Programmes are evaluated on a ten-point scale, where 1 constitutes very poor work and a 10 is classed as outstanding. The majority of students achieve between a 4 and an 8 in their degrees.

The academic year runs from September to June.

Degree courses in the Netherlands

Dutch undergraduate courses can be studied both full and part time, and while course length depends on the subject, full-time degrees typically take three years to complete.

You’ll be able to find courses in subjects ranging from architecture to zoology, but the country’s most popular programmes are in language and culture, engineering, behaviour and society and economics.

Popular student destinations in the Netherlands include:

  • Amsterdam
  • Rotterdam
  • Utrecht
  • Groningen
  • Maastricht.

Entry requirements for higher education courses in the Netherlands are decided by individual institutions. You’ll usually need to submit transcripts of your previous qualifications, a CV and cover letter and proof of your language proficiency, if the course you’re enrolling on isn’t delivered in your first language.

Use the Study in Holland – Studyfinder tool to search for degree courses in the Netherlands, and apply through the central applications portal Studielink.

Masters degrees

The Netherlands offers a number of Masters qualification:

  • Academic Masters – aims to develop the skills you’ll need for employment as well as your knowledge of one or many subject areas.
  • Research Masters – on a research Masters, you’ll engage in scientific research and hone your analytical skills.
  • Teacher training Masters.

Academic Masters typically take one year to complete but research Masters, teacher training Masters and courses in science, maths and engineering take two years.

Masters programmes at universities of applied science last between one and four years, and are designed to prepare you for managerial or leadership roles in a specific profession. Most students on these courses are already working in a relevant job and study part time – this allows you to practice as you learn and bring your experiences back to the classroom for personal development.

For most Masters courses you’ll need a Bachelors degree (or equivalent qualification) and proof of your proficiency in the language, where needed. Check with individual institutions for any specific entry requirements.

Search postgraduate courses in the Netherlands with Prospects and Studyfinder – Study in Holland.


A PhD in the Netherlands involves working in close collaboration with a supervisor to research and write a dissertation. You’ll typically complete a PhD over the course of four years.

All PhD students are part of either a graduate school or a research school, which is a partnership between multiple research universities and institutions. Some universities also partner with private sector businesses, although this isn’t as common.

Once you’ve submitted your dissertation you’ll have to attend a public defence. Unlike in the UK, this is a big ceremony where you’ll be required to present your paper and field questions from an audience, accompanied by supporting staff. Your PhD must be published before this examination.

To be accepted onto a PhD you’ll need a Masters or equivalent qualification and proof of health insurance, either via a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or private policy. Many universities employ their students as full-time researchers, so if this applies to you you’ll also need to prove you’re capable of this responsibility.

Search for PhD programmes at Study in Holland – Studyfinder and Academic Transfer.

Student exchanges

Students attending a UK university who want to study in the Netherlands can take part in the European Union’s (EU) education, training and youth support programme, Erasmus+. The scheme offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to many young people, with opportunities lasting from three months to one academic year.

Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative for any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation that is actively involved in education and training. However, your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country, of which the Netherlands is one. Speak to your institution for information on how to apply.

This information remains valid following the UK’s decision to leave the EU and will be updated if any changes occur.

Course fees

Students from EU/EEA countries pay a fixed rate of €2,060 per year (£1,784) for tuition, the same as Dutch students. For students from all other countries, the figure is higher – the national average for Bachelors programmes is €6,000 to €15,000 per year. For a Masters, this rises to between €8,000 and €20,000.

Private schools have the freedom to charge higher rates, and most do. A Dutch Bachelors degree, typically lasting four years, can cost EU/EEA students up to €36,000 when studied privately.

As well as tuition costs you’ll have to factor in the cost of living. Although this figure is likely to be higher in popular student areas, such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Dutch government estimates you’ll need €800 to €1,100 a month for accommodation, travel, food and drink and other expenses.

Funding to study in the Netherlands

EU Masters students under the age of 55 can apply for a postgraduate loan from the Dutch government. To do so, you’ll need a Dutch bank account and citizen service number, which you’ll receive once registering your permanent address in the country.

The loan covers the cost of your tuition fees, and is paid into your bank account in monthly instalments. It’s your responsibility to then pay the university. Interest rates are applied to the loan from the day you take it out.

You’ll have a two-year interval following graduation, after which you must repay the loan in full within 15 years. Unlike the Student Finance system in England, the loan is not voided after the repayment period.

There are a number of grants and scholarships on offer to international students in the Netherlands – visit Study in Holland – Find a scholarship to search for opportunities.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for PhD funding you can use the European Commission’s (EC) researcher funding service EURAXESS.

Student visas

As an EU/European Economic Area (EEA) citizen you’re free to study in the Netherlands without a visa. Your university will register your attendance with the Dutch immigration authorities.

From all other countries you’ll need an entry visa (MVV) and residence permit (VVR) for the duration of your stay. To obtain these, you’ll apply through your chosen university and collect the necessary documents from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.

If you’re staying in the Netherlands for longer than four months, you’ll need to register with the Dutch council Personal Records Database at your local town hall.

How to apply

Contact your chosen university directly to find out whether you need to apply directly or through Studielink.

Aim to apply as early as possible – most courses start in September and it’s best to begin preparing your application up to a year in advance. Some universities offer Numerus Fixus programmes, where the course has a certain set capacity, and for these, the application deadline typically falls in January. Check with your university to find out specific dates.

Language requirements

With more than 1,500 English-speaking courses offered at Dutch universities, and 95% of the population speaking some level of English, you won’t need to be fluent in Dutch to study in the Netherlands.

However, if you’re applying for a course taught in a language that isn’t your native tongue, you’ll need to prove your proficiency by taking a recognised test:

  • If you’re a non-native English speaker enrolling on a course taught in English, you should take either the IELTS or TOEFL tests.
  • If you’re a non-native Dutch speaker enrolling on a course taught in Dutch, you can take the NT2 or CNaVT.

Studying in the Netherlands presents a great opportunity to learn the language, even if you don’t need it for your course. Many universities offer beginner-level courses to international students.

If images of cozy cafes or shimmering canals have caught your imagination, maybe you should consider taking your dreams of visiting the Kingdom of the Low Countries and turn them into a reality by studying abroad in the Netherlands.

There’s more to the Netherlands than meets the eye, which is why we were excited to show off the top ten reasons for international students to choose the Netherlands as their number one study abroad destination.

1. Prestigious Universities

Looking for a study abroad destination that offers you the chance to study at one of the world’s best universities? Look no further than the Netherlands!

The Dutch boast one of the oldest and most reputable higher education systems in the world. With many universities in the Netherlands placing highly in the global rankings, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular study abroad destinations in Europe.

To top that, Dutch universities offer friendly tuition fees, a diverse range of English-language programs, and a great student life.

2. An Open-Minded Society

The Dutch carry on their daily lives with a “live and let live” attitude that can be seen in the diversity of their surroundings. Tolerance has become an integral building block in Dutch society.

In effect, multinational restaurants, gay bars, brothels, and coffee shops live in peaceful coexistence in the same neighborhoods in cities across the Netherlands. As an international student, this may seem strange at first, but you will quickly see that instead of producing crime, the Dutch’s liberal legalization policies have created a safe space for people to live out their lives.

Studying abroad in the Netherlands will, therefore, grant international students the opportunity to open their own minds to the lifestyle choices of people around the world.

3. Competitive Economy

After making it to graduation, most students have one major goal in mind—finding a job. It’s important, especially if you are living and studying abroad, to think about your employment opportunities after finishing your studies.

After experiencing life in the Netherlands, many students can’t help but want to stay for forever, so they make it their mission to find employment after their studies. Luckily, with one of Europe’s most competitive economies, finding a job is not only possible, it’s likely!

Once primarily an agricultural nation, the Netherlands is now a modern-day tech and startup hub. The Dutch government also promotes innovation and new talent by offering visas to foreigners with marketable skills, making the Dutch workforce one of the most diverse.

4. Language-Savvy People

Did you know, Dutch is the closest language to English? As English’s closest relative on the Germanic language tree, Dutch is much easier to learn for an English speaker than say Italian or French. Both languages borrow vocabulary from the other and the grammar is similar in many ways.

But, if learning a language is not your goal, no worries. The Dutch speak English at one of the highest non-native proficiencies in the world. You will also find a multitude of options when it comes to studying a program in English.

That being said, as savvy language learners, many Dutch people also speak a third or fourth language! Because of the Netherlands’ close proximity to Belgium, France, and Germany, many Dutch people also learn French or German. So, don’t be shy, and test out your language skills!  

5. A Cycling Culture to Live For

Another amazing benefit of studying abroad in the Netherlands is your cheap, easy access to transportation. Just bike there!

With an extensive network of bike lanes and plenty of places to store and lock your bike, the Dutch infrastructure makes it easier to bike to your destination than to drive or take public transportation. It’s also another way for the Dutch to embrace sustainability and protect the environment.

On top of it all, because of the respect bikers get on the road, there are very few serious biking accidents, making it one of the safest ways to travel as well. So, get on your bike and go!

6. Healthy and Active Lifestyle

The Dutch rank among the healthiest in the world.

Certainly, this is due in small part to the extensive cycling culture throughout the country. However, the Dutch also value sports and other forms of physical activity. As an international student in the Netherlands, you will have ample opportunities to join other students in groups or teams to play sports or just exercise.

The physical activity and social aspect combined make for a great mental space to take on the challenges of studying and living abroad.

7. Food to Die For

It’s surprising then that the Dutch diet is filled with saturated fats. Cheese, butter, and meats are plentiful on any Dutch table.

A step inside any Dutch pastry shop is also likely to have you drooling. Stroopwafels, pancakes, apples tarts, and licorice make up some of the Dutch’s favorite snacks. No study abroad in the Netherlands is complete without having at least tried poffertjes, tiny powdered pancakes, or oliebollen, the Dutch version of the doughnut.

If pastries aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other delicious treats to try! Bitterballen are ranked amongst the most popular bar or party snack. These little meatballs are coated in breadcrumbs and fried to crispy, golden deliciousness.

8. A Golden Age to Pine Over

If the names of Rembrandt and Vermeer ring a bill for you, then you must know about the Dutch Golden Age. Paintings such as The Girl with a Pearl Earring conjure up images in the minds of millions around the globe due to their popularity and historic significance within the art world.

But it’s not just the paintings of Vermeer that are easily recognized. Perhaps you have also heard of Vincent van Gogh, painter of one of the world’s most famous paintings, Starry Night. While studying abroad at the University of Amsterdam, you will have more than ample time to discover all that Dutch art has to offer. Start with the awe-inspiring Van Gogh Museum to brush up on your knowledge about the post-impressionists.

9. Travel Destinations to Discover

Within the Netherlands, international students can find some of the most beautiful, unique cities in the world. Stroll along the canals of Amsterdam, visit the ports in Rotterdam, or gaze at the beautiful architecture of The Hague.

No matter where you choose to study, the Netherlands is perfectly situated for you to explore all that Europe has to offer! It’s easy to find cheap fares and take a weekend getaway to Italy, Poland, or even England. Many Dutch cities are also connected via train to bustling European cities such as Brussels or Cologne. So, you can make the most of your study abroad experience in the Netherlands by not only seeing what the Dutch have to offer but also seeing all there is to see in Europe.

10. Be Yourself

Not only are they tolerant, the Dutch are also accepting. You can feel free to be who you want to be. You’ll realize with the freedom to do so, you will also want to reach higher to discover your full potential. The Dutch are honest and open communicators. At first, many international students to the Netherlands perceive this as too forward. But, soon the direct communication style reveals its benefits.

You will always know where you stand with a Dutch person, and as long as you are also open and direct, you will soon find you have a whole new group of life-long friends. Many students who study abroad cite making friends and connections as one of the most rewarding aspects of their study abroad experience.

More and more students have been opting to study abroad in the Netherlands in recent years. This is evident from the rising number of intenational students who have taken admissions in the country in the last decade. In 2006, 41,201 students had enrolled in various study programmes in the Netherlands, which amounted to 7.2% of the total students enrolled in higher education. This has now almost doubled to 81,392 (11.4%) in 2016-17. Infact, 2016-17 was also the year in which the Netherlands witnessed its highest ever increase in admissions over a single year with 6,163 students joining.  Approximately 70% of the total number of international sutdents are enrolled in undergraduate programmes while the rest are in postgraduate programmes. Germany, China and Italy contribute the most number of international students in the Netherlands followed by Belgium, the UK and Greece.Share APPLICATIONS OPEN NOW

Study in The Netherlands: Rich Culture

The central position of the Netherlands on the European map has bestowed upon it huge economic and cultural advantages. Not only does it have one of the biggest ports in Europe, it is also well connected with the rest of Europe and the world by air and rail. The country is considered as a meeting point of German, British and French cultures. Its advantageous location allows universities and educational institutions to offer study tours and academic exchange programmes to students from across Europe.

Study in The Netherlands: University Types

There are three main groups of Universities in the Netherlands, namely research universities, universities of applied sciences, institutes of international education and others. While the research universities and universities of applied sciences offer Bachelor’s as well as Master’s programmes, the institutes of international education offer only Master’s level programmes. Research universities, as the name suggests, are focused on scientific research. These universities have state-of-the-art infrastructure and contemporary study methods. The universities of applied sciences offer profession-oriented courses. Maastricht University, with 56% international students, has the highest number of international students in Netherlands

International students, whether opting for Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes, require good English proficiency test scores to be considered for admissions to universities in The Netherlands. This ideally means an IELTS score of 7 and above without scoring 6.5 or below in any section, or a minimum C in Cambridge International exams or a minimum of 95 in TOEFL iBT without scoring less than 22 in any section.

Eligibility for most Master’s programmes requires candidates to attain a valid and substantial GRE or GMAT score. Some programmes like communications, sociology, etc. do not require a GRE/GMAT score. Check individual course requirements for the specific eligibility criteria.

Eligibility criteria for Bachelor’s programmes includes a candidate’s previous GPA and English proficiency test scores. Some courses require the students to perform well in a Maths admission requirement test.

Statement of Purpose is also part of the admission process along with letters of recommendation.

Study in The Netherlands: Top International Universities

QS RankUniversity
54Delft University of Technology
58University of Amsterdam
104Eindhoven University of Technology
109Leiden University
109Utrecht University
113University of Groningen
124Wageningen University
147Erasmus University Rotterdam
179University of Twente
200Maastricht University

Study in The Netherlands: Language not a barrier

Language hardly acts as a barrier in this Dutch-speaking country. Almost everyone speaks English as a second language and the universities also offer programmes in English, making it a cherished study abroad destination. Infact, the Netherlands is the first non-English speaking country offering higher education courses in English.

Study in The Netherlands: Quality Education

According to the QS Rankings 2018, there are 10 Dutch universities in the top 200. The most opted for courses in the research universities are Economics and Business, Human and Social Sciences, Engineering, Arts and Culture, Science, Liberal Arts and Sciences. Additionally, the universities of applied sciences are also preferred for healthcare and education related subjects.

The Dutch education is at par with international standards and is gaining worldwide renown. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the national research council, funds top researchers at universities and institutes to promote quality and innovation. It also boosts research by providing subsidies and research programmes.

Study in The Netherlands: Teaching style, Tuition fee

The Netherlands is well known for its Problem-Based Learning educational system. It is interactive and focuses on teamwork. The tuition fees and living expenses for those who come to study in the Netherlands are comparatively lower than the other European countries. Fees for students from the European Union and non-European union students vary greatly but are affordable. The universities also offer scholarships that contribute towards reducing the course fee.

Study in The Netherlands: Course Fees for Bachelors and Masters Courses

StudentBachelors FeeMasters Fee
European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA)€ 2006€ 2006 / US$ 2369
Non-European Union/EEA€ 5000 – € 8000€9000 – €20000

Study in The Netherlands: Happiness Index

Another important reason to study in The Netherlands is due its Happiness Index. According to the World Happiness Report published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Network, Netherlands occupies the sixth position worldwide with a score of 7.377. This report is based on GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. The countries that are above the Netherlands are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland.

Study in The Netherlands: Work opportunities during and after the course

While EU/EEA students do not require a permit to work during their course, non-EU/EEA students will require a work permit to do so. The work permit allows students to work for 10 hours per week and full-time during the holidays. The full-time or seasonal work is only permitted during the months of June, July and August. The work permit has to be applied for by the employer who intends to employ the foreign student. The student will also be eligible to take a healthcare insurance, pay for social security and income tax.

Non-EU/EEA Students who have completed their course from universities in The Netherlands can go on to explore job opportunities in the country. Such candidates can apply for The Search Year Visa to look for a job. This one-time visa has a validity of 12 months grants grants the student permission to stay in The Netherlands for a year after the graduation date to look for a job.

Though the application process for The Search Year Visa is a little cumbersome, students are suggested to apply for it in advance. The visa holders are not required to apply for a work visa when they land a job. It is the employer who has to apply for the work permit on behalf of the candidate. However, If a student does not land a job during the 12 month period, s/he will be asked to leave the country.

Study in The Netherlands: Student Visa

International students who are in the Netherlands for more than 90 days are required to apply for a residency permit if their stay exceeds 90 consecutive days. The updated Dutch Modern Migration Policy Act (MoMi) makes it necessary for non-EU/EEA nationals studying in the Netherlands to obtain a residence permit and be registered for their entire stay.

Study in The Netherlands: Scholarship options

A number of Dutch universities offer full scholarships to outstanding students for their higher education. Part tuition fee waiver scholarships are also available for international students.

Study in The Netherlands: Top scholarships

ScholarshipProgrammeField of Study
Amsterdam Excellence ScholarshipsAmsterdam Merit ScholarshipsAmsterdam Talent ScholarshipBachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD degree, UndergraduateBusiness administration and management, Education and Teacher Training, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Fine and applied arts, Law, Mathematics and computer sciences, Medical and health sciences, Natural sciences, Social and behavioural sciences, Transport and communication
ASEM-DUO Fellowship ProgrammeBachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD degreeAgriculture, forestry and fishery, Architecture and town planning, Arts and Humanities, Business administration and management, Communication, Education and Teacher Training, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Fine and applied arts, Law, Mathematics and computer sciences, Medical and health sciences, Natural sciences, Service, Tourism and Leisure, Social and behavioural sciences, Transport and communication
CentER Scholarships Tilburg UniversityBachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD degreeBusiness administration and management
DST fellowshipsMaster’s degreeEngineering, Natural sciences
Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree IMIMBachelor’s degree, Master’s degreeMedical and health sciences
Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for the Master’s in System DynamicsMaster’s degreeAgriculture, forestry and fishery, Architecture and town planning, Arts and Humanities, Business administration and management, Communication, Education and Teacher Training, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Fine and applied arts, Law, Mathematics and computer sciences, Medical and health sciences, Natural sciences, Service, Tourism and Leisure, Social and behavioural sciences, Transport and communication
Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for the Master’s in PLANET EuropeMaster’s degreeAll
Excellence Scholarship Erasmus Univ. RotterdamBachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, UndergraduateArchitecture and town planning, Arts and Humanities, Business administration and management, Communication, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Law, Mathematics and computer sciences, Medical and health sciences, Natural sciences, Other, Service, Tourism and Leisure, Social and behavioural sciences, Transport and communication
Global Management of Social Issues BSc ScholarshipUndergraduate, Bachelor’s degreeSocial and behavioural sciences
Holland ScholarshipBachelor’s degree, Master’s degreeAll
Maastricht University High Potential ScholarshipBachelor’s degreeArchitecture and town planning, Arts and Humanities, Business administration and management, Communication, Education and Teacher Training, Environmental Sciences, Fine and applied arts, Law, Mathematics and computer sciences, Medical and health sciences, Natural sciences, Social and behavioural sciences, Transport and communication
NWO Graduate Program EpidemiologyBachelor’s degreeMedical and health sciences
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus UniversityBachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD degreeArchitecture and town planning, Arts and Humanities, Business administration and management, Communication, Education and Teacher Training, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Fine and applied arts, Mathematics and computer sciences, Medical and health sciences, Natural sciences, Service, Tourism and Leisure, Social and behavioural sciences, Transport and communication
RSM non-EEA scholarship of ExcellenceBachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, UndergraduateBusiness administration and management
Tilburg University Scholarship for Academic ExcellenceBachelor’s degreeArts and Humanities, Communication, Social and behavioural sciences












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