Dutch universities offer over 2,500 study programmes in English, an overwhelming amount to sort through for prospective students searching for the perfect study. Here are some tips and tricks to help you figure out how to filter and choose a few programme options that suit your goals best.
There are 2 main ways to choose a study programme in the Netherlands. You can explore the various university websites or browse through educational portal databases. If you’ve already found the university you’d like to attend, navigating through their website is the easiest option to find your perfect programme. If you’re still unsure or want to see what other options exist, using an educational portal database will allow you to easily compare programmes at different universities before making this important decision.
One of these educational portals is our very own Eurogates database. You can use our platform to filter through programmes using various criteria such as degree, field of study, university, scholarships available, starting date, and even city. The database provides overviews of programmes at various universities and helps you narrow down your options quickly!
According to HAN University, the average time spent searching for and applying to a university is 1.5 years. With our help, you can reduce this time significantly, selecting and applying to your preferred university in just several months.
Selecting a degree
You can find programmes leading to certain degrees by applying the "Degree" filter on the Eurogates database.
There are 2 main degrees to choose from in the Netherlands, a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree. Dutch universities also offer Master of Laws (LLM), Master of Business Administration (MBA), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes, preparatory programmes, and short courses.
Bachelor’s programmes are suitable for students who have completed high school or have enrolled in a university in their home country. These programmes usually take 3 or 4 years to complete. In our database, you will also see Bachelor’s courses that have a 1 or 2 year duration. Those are "top-up" programmes, designed for Bachelor’s students who have already completed several years at another university. By choosing “Bachelor„ in the degree filter, you can see all of the Bachelor’s programmes available in our database.
Master’s programmes are available for students that have already received a Bachelor’s degree. The majority of Master’s programmes at Dutch universities last 1 year, but there are also those with a 2 year duration. To see the list of available Master’s programmes, select "Master" in the degree filter on our database.
Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes can either be academic or applied. Academic programmes are available at research universities and focus on scientific research. Applied programmes are taught at universities of applied sciences and prepare students for a professional career. If you aren’t sure which option to choose, leave "Both" selected.
Visit Types of universities in the Netherlands to find out more about the distinction between academic and applied universities, as well as information about other higher education institutions.
LLM and MBA programmes are specialised Master’s programmes in the fields of Law and Business Administration. These programmes have 1 or 2 year durations. The application requirements typically include a prior Master’s degree or work experience in the field of expertise, which is why we place these programmes in separate groups.
PhD programmes are offered at research universities for students that already have a Master’s diploma. The programmes are often available as research positions at a university, but some of them can also be found in the Eurogates database. Choose the “PhD" degree filter to see the programmes available.
See also: PhD degree in the Netherlands
If your IELTS test result is below 6.0, you won’t be accepted to a Bachelor’s programme in the Netherlands. In order to meet this requirement, you have two main options. You could study English on your own and retake the test until you pass, or you could enroll in a preparatory course at the university of your choice.
During a preparatory course, you will complete various English modules and study basic disciplines relevant to your future programme. You will also familiarise yourself with the Dutch teaching methods, language, and lifestyle. Completing a preparatory course can make pursuing a higher education degree in the Netherlands much easier.
Choose "Preparatory courses (certificate)" in the degree filter to see all preparatory courses available in our database.
See also: Preparatory programmes in Holland.
Short courses will improve your qualifications in just a few weeks. They are useful if you are trying to learn something new during a vacation or holidays. Universities in the Netherlands offer short courses in nearly any field, from English or Dutch language courses to Business or Technology.
Choose "Short courses (certificate)" in the degree filter to see all short courses available.
By using the degree filter, you can reduce the amount of programmes in your list from thousands to hundreds. While this might help narrow down your options, it is probably not enough to help you choose your field of study. But we can help you do that too!
The "Field of study" filter in the Eurogates database will help you select your future domain. If you’ve already chosen a desired degree, you should have a shorter list of tens of programmes left to decide between. You can also use the "Search by keyword..." field to enter your specific field of interest. The database will display results based on your keyword, helping you focus your search further.
For example, if you choose the Business & Economics field of study with the Bachelor’s degree level selected, you will see 140 programmes. You can half this amount by choosing whether you want to browse through academic or applied courses. If you enter "business" in the "Search by keyword..." field, the search will be narrowed down to only 28 programmes.
Dutch universities make use of an interdisciplinary approach to education. This means that you will be gaining knowledge in several related fields. This is why you’ll see programmes in Marketing, Logistics, Tourism, Communications, and even IT and Gaming when you choose the Business & Economics field of study.
The wide selection of related options makes choosing the right programme a more complicated process, but expands your available possibilities at the same time. If you want to study Business modules in Hotel Management or Industrial Design, you won’t miss relevant programmes that could be applied to what you are searching for.
Choosing the appropriate degree and field of study is often enough to start exploring programmes in more detail. However, if your list is still too big after selecting these two variables, try using additional search criteria to keep narrowing down your options.
Selecting a university
By choosing a university, you can reduce your list of available options to just a several programmes. You can do it through the "Educational institution" filter.
Choosing which university to study at in the Netherlands isn’t an easy task. You should take into account important factors such as the university’s rankings, tuition fees, scholarship possibilities, and student feedback. Even after doing a lot of research, however, it is still very difficult to know if you’ve made the correct choice. But the good news is that you don’t have to know right away! Many students apply to several universities and pick the right one later, once they know if they’ve been accepted and are able to factor in other advantages or disadvantages like receiving a scholarship or grant.
View more information about Dutch university rankings:
Dutch research universities in the world university rankings
Rankings of universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands
Finding a scholarship
Higher education in the Netherlands is expensive, but scholarships can help you pay for part or all of your study. To be eligible for scholarships, you should generally have good marks and be highly motivated, as well as meet any additional, more specific requirements.
In most cases, scholarships are granted based on the documents you provide to the university through your application process. If you are eligible to apply for a scholarship, make sure you demonstrate your motivation to the university and your study in a motivation letter.
To see programmes that have scholarships available in the Eurogates database, check the "Grants (scholarships)" checkbox.
Universities in the Netherlands establish new scholarships for international students every year. If you are interested in a programme, but don’t see any scholarships available, look at other scholarship options as well. Take a look at the university’s website to see if any new scholarships have been announced or to find other potential grant options from the Dutch government and partner organisations.
You can also filter programmes on the Eurogates website by starting date. To exclude programmes that start after your preferred starting date from the list, use the "Starting from" and "Starting until" filters to set the range of months you want to look at.
For example, if you select "January 2017" for the "Starting from" filter and "February 2017" for the "Starting until" filter, you will select only those programmes that begin in February 2017. Even if you choose Bachelor’s programmes in Business & Economics, there will be just 22 programmes left.
Begin your study in Holland in September or February
Application deadlines at Dutch universities
Once you’ve narrowed down the list of programmes that you’re interested in enough, you’re ready to begin exploring each programme thoroughly. By clicking on the programme’s name, you will be taken to the programme page, complete with details regarding tuition fees, scholarships, starting date, application deadline, and admission requirements.
You will be also able to see videos related to the programme, leave a comment, or ask the university a question. You should be able to derive enough information from the programme page to select your final shortlist of programmes for further research.
The next step in selecting your perfect programme is to explore the university’s website. You can navigate there directly from Eurogates by clicking the "Read more (on the university website)" button. The university’s website has more detailed information about programme and is the ultimate source of information regarding any deadlines, requirements, and application procedures. You can also find information on disciplines, study curriculum, career prospects for graduates, and student feedback.
While you can find a wide range of information online using Eurogates and through the university’s own website, there is an even more definite way to figure out if you’re making the right choice.
Visit your university
Choosing to study abroad in a different country and a different language is challenging. To be able to successfully complete a degree abroad, it is especially important that you feel comfortable with your surroundings. That is why you can only get some much information online, but the real test is seeing what your future place of study is actually like through a visit.
The most popular way to see if you’d like to study at a particular university is by visiting the campus during an Open Day event. Dutch universities conduct Open Days several times a year, usually in the spring and fall. During these events, you’ll be able to explore the campus, talk to current students and staff, and ask any practical questions you might have about living and studying in the Netherlands. This first-hand experience is the best way to form an accurate opinion about the university and study programme.
Universities also organise other social events during the year, such as allowing prospective students to experience a day in the life of a current student or hosting educational fairs in your home country. Although you may not experience the university’s atmosphere first-hand through an educational fair, meeting current students and staff will still give you a first impression about what to expect from the school and programme.
Dutch universities want you to choose a programme carefully; their reputations depend on your choices. For this reason, they organise more and more informational events every year and do their best to accommodate prospective students. Even if you’ve missed the deadline for an Open Day event to your preferred university, get in touch with a coordinator to make other arrangements. They are usually happy to schedule a time to meet with you.
Remember, you and your university want the same thing — to provide you with the unforgettable experience of studying abroad and to help you earn a diploma that will serve you throughout your life.
Do the research
When searching for a university and programme using our database, please keep in mind that the information presented is subject to change. The amount of programmes fluctuates every year as new studies are made available while some old ones are no longer offered. Some of these programmes will be missed in our list or will have incomplete information.
We always recommend that you do as much research as you can before selecting a school and study. Visit the university’s website, read forums, ask questions, get in touch with the international office, and take the time to ensure that you’re making a great choice. Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, as long as you choose where and what to study wisely.
Applying to your university
While you’re searching for the right programme for you, make sure you meet the general application requirements for admission and start collecting the documents you’ll need. In most cases, institutions have very similar English language requirements and will ask you for the same core documents such as ID, previous educational levels and marks, and letters of motivation and reference. Make sure you are able to provide these documents and meet the basic criteria so that, once you do find the perfect study, you’re ready to apply.
Read more about general admission criteria at Dutch universities to start preparing your application.