Universities in The Netherlands are interested in attracting motivated students to study at their institutions. Therefore, the requirements for prospective students are transparent and there are no intake exams.
Most universities require students to:
- have a secondary school or higher education diploma or an equivalent,
- pass the IELTS or TOEFL test with appropriate results,
- and have the finances required to study (including tuition and housing fees).
If you meet these basic criteria, the world of Dutch education is open for you!
Which universities can I apply?
There are different types of universities in Holland which may have different requirements for prospective students applying for a Bachelor’s programme.
Universities of applied sciences usually do not request additional information. All you need to do is to pass an IELTS or TOEFL test (if you do not live in a native English-speaking country), arrange the required documents and send them to the admission office of your selected university approximately 3-4 months for non-EU and 1-2 months for EU students before the next academic year starts.
Research universities and university colleges may have additional requirements for prospective students who just received their secondary school diploma. These types of institutions may request some specific data related to prior education or even ask students to pass the intake assessment in certain disciplines.
To apply for a Master’s programme at any Dutch university, a Bachelor's degree diploma is required. In this case students also need to have better English language skills and sometimes may need to provide additional documents such as recommendation or motivation letters.
How to start the application process?
The application procedure starts by following these steps:
- Choose your university and study programme.
- Arrange the documents required for the application.
- Pass an IELTS or TOEFL exam. Their results are strictly required for admission, unless you live in a native English-speaking country or have previous higher education in English.
- Start your application procedure before the application deadline set by university. Check the website of your chosen university to check if you need to do it via Studielink or through the website itself, or both. This step can be done even before you receive your secondary school or Bachelor’s diploma and/or English test results.
In case you are going to finish your prior education during the same year that you apply to a Dutch university, make sure to send a document from your school or institution that confirms your pending graduation. This document must be translated into English, French, Dutch, or German, and notarized.
The rest of the documents can be sent later, but must be sent before the university’s application visa deadlines.
Failed IELTS or TOEFL test?
If your English language skills are not enough to apply directly to the degree programme of your choice, you can apply for a preparatory course. Many universities in The Netherlands offer such courses that not only improve English proficiency to an academic level, but also help to adapt students to living and studying in the country. Moreover, some universities provide students of their prep courses with guaranteed scholarships for further education.
Remember that you still need to pass an English language exam and send its results to the admission office when applying for the preparatory course.
These are general guidelines for international students. The application procedure to Dutch universities may be different for students from various countries so it is always good to double-check requirements, deadlines, and application methods available for students of your country.