How to apply to universities in Netherlands for international students?

The Netherlands has lately become the country more and more international students choose to study abroad. If not for the safe and multicultural environment, then the affordable tuition cost compared to other countries, the Netherlands check all the boxes for the perfect study destination. And the beginning of the adventure is of course to get admission at a university. We’ve compiled for you all the details related to the process, requirements, costs and deadlines for university application in the Netherlands.  

Netherlands university application process

The very first step for university application in the Netherlands is most certainly to choose the degree program and institution you want to apply to. You can check out our list of the 10 best universities in the Netherlands to start with. Make sure to do a thorough research to make sure the courses and institutions match your career goals.

Next is to prepare the paperwork in order to meet the requirements and admission qualifications of the program and university of your choice. Usually in the Netherlands, your academic background and GPA are the first conditions they’ll check out.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some master’s courses come with an online eligibility check. This help students find out if they are eligible for a specific program they want to enroll in. Moreover, you need to check out if your university requires you to pay the Statutory tuition fee for EU/EEA students or the Institutional tuition fee for non-EU/EEA applicants.

Furthermore, look for any scholarship program that will help you fund your studies in the Netherlands. Last but not least, if you are a non-European student, you’ll need to prepare in advance all the necessary documents for your visa application. Once you’ve prepared everything, the next step is to submit your application, pay the fees and wait for an admission notification. 

Netherlands university application portal

Once you have chosen your program and university, the application process in the Netherlands is moderately straightforward. You should just check out if the degree program you want to apply for is with or without restrictions. This will determine through what platform you’ll do your university application.

For degrees with no restrictions, you can either apply directly to the university’s website. The procedure is then pretty straightforward, you check the admission requirements and apply afterwards. However, there’s another option, which is to join the Dutch government’s Numerus Fixus degree course lottery. This system offers the benefit of increasing your chances to get admitted to your desired degree program.

The only setback is that most courses are taught in Dutch. You can apply to English-taught programs via Numerus Fixus in the case you want to study medicine, psychology, physiotherapy or international business administration. Moreover, you can apply for a maximum of 2 numerus fixus programs per academic year, except for medicine, dentistry, dental hygiene and physiotherapy courses. In these cases you can submit only 1 numerus fixus application per academic year.

For programs with no local restrictions, you can submit your application through the Studielink platform. This works the same way as the UCAS system in the UK. Moreover, if you go through Studielink, you can apply for up to 4 courses at a once. And you even have the possibility to change the courses you apply for at any time before the application deadline. 

Netherlands university admission requirements

The basic requirements for university application in the Netherlands usually include a proof of completion of previous studies. In other words, if you apply for a bachelor’s degree program, you need a high school diploma. And you need a bachelor’s if you apply for a master’s degree, etc.

University application in the Netherlands also requires documents such as:

  • ID or copy of passport
  • Passport ID photos
  • Transcript of academic records
  • CV or resume
  • Letter of motivation
  • Proof of payment of the application fee
  • Recommendation letter
  • Portfolio of previous work (if required)
  • Proof of proficiency in the Dutch or English language, depending on the program’s teaching language

Some universities may require you to take some admission tests if they think you aren’t fully qualified. Make sure to get ready if that’s your case. 

What grades do you need to study in the Netherlands?

University admission process in the Netherlands is less competitive compared to the US or the UK. But it might happen that the number of applicants is higher than the number of places available. So make sure to meet not only the required GPA but also to have your degrees recognized in the Netherlands. Usually, the average scores to qualify for admission vary depending on the university and the major you apply for. But make sure you get more than the minimum average of 7-7.5 for foreign diplomas.   

What is the IELTS score required for Netherlands?

To apply to a program in Dutch, you need a good command of the language. Most universities in the Netherlands offer courses in Dutch as a second language, so you can improve your proficiency. On the other hand, if you apply to programs in English, you need to provide your scores on usual tests such as the TOEFL, IELTS Academic, PTE or else. For the IELTS, you need a minimum average of 6 to get admission at Dutch universities. Moreover, you need minimum TOEFL scores of 550 if paper-based and 213 if computer-based. 

Read our tips to succeed at your IELTS.

Netherlands university application deadlines: When should I apply for university studies in Netherlands?

University intakes in the Netherlands start in September for the fall application and in February for the spring session. You can get the application deadlines directly through your university’s website. But usually, for most programs, the application deadline takes place on the 1st of May. Moreover, if you apply for a Numerus Fixus course, the application deadline might be as early as the 15th of January for the next September intake.

How long does it take for universities to reply to your application in Netherlands? 

Once you’ve submitted your university application, admission confirmation in the Netherlands are often pronounced by the end of spring. Usually, the university will send you an official acceptance letter that you will then use for your visa application. This will come along with other practical details about the student life awaiting you in the Netherlands. You will also usually be asked to pay the tuition fees for the first semester. 

Netherlands university application fee

Until recently, you could apply for free to Dutch universities. This is still the case if you enroll in a university of applied science. But because of the increasing number of applicants to English-taught bachelor programs, they introduced the application fee. Usually, you will need to pay €50 to €100 that will cover for multiple programs at the same university. On the other hand, if you apply to different universities, the cost is multiplied by the number of institutions you apply to.

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