Masters Degrees in the Netherlands
Why do a Masters degree in Holland?
Studying for a Master’s degree in a different country to the one where you completed your undergraduate qualification can broaden your horizons and help your CV to stand out in today’s competitive job market. It can also keep tuition costs down; give you the chance to learn a new language, or just the opportunity to immerse yourself in an alternative culture for a year or two.
When you think of the Netherlands your first thoughts might be of canals, bikes and windmills, but the Dutch are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, boasting a young and diverse population.
The Dutch government have kept tuition fees low through subsidy and also offer additional financial support to both Dutch and EU students through loans, work-supported grants and scholarships, making it a more affordable county for postgraduate study than typical study abroad destinations. Over 16 million people live in the Netherlands and most speak excellent English as well as their native Dutch.
In between studying for your Masters qualification you can enjoy a whole range of the cultural activities on offer in the Netherlands, from visiting the largest Van Gogh collection in the world and a raft of other museums and galleries, to going boating on the famous canals, or just sitting back soaking up the café culture and superb nightlife.
The Netherlands also has excellent transport links, so you could even use your spare time around your postgraduate studies to travel to other European cities.
Accommodation and living costs
The Netherlands is the 27th most densely populated country in the world, which can make finding accommodation as an international student difficult. On-campus accommodation is extremely rare in the Netherlands; it’s much more common for students to rent a single room in a house or apartment in the town close to your chosen university.
Once you’ve found your accommodation you’ll need to make sure you understand clearly what’s included in the costs, such as whether your utility bills are included in the monthly rent, and whether you’re paying for a furnished or unfurnished room. And as you’ll more than likely be sharing the kitchen and the bathroom with your fellow housemates, be sure to choose them carefully!
The currency of the Netherlands is the Euro (€). Many places in the Netherlands will offer student discounts which can help you to keep your expenses down, but you should check in advance if this is the case. Also look into getting an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), as it can also offer a wide range of useful discounts while you’re studying abroad.
The Netherlands was the first non-native English speaking country to teach courses in English, and now almost all Masters degree programmes are taught in both English and Dutch.
There are three types of higher education institution in the Netherlands: Research Universities, Universities of Applied Science, and Institutes for International Education. All offer Masters level study; although some are more expensive to study at than others, so check the tuition fees are what you expect before you apply.
Masters degrees from the Netherlands are internationally recognised by both employers and academics, and are all accredited by the NVAO (Netherlands and Flemish Accreditation Organisation) to ensure the course content meets recognised standards for both academic and real-world relevance.
You should check that the Masters degree programme you’re applying to is accredited by the NVAO to ensure that your postgraduate qualification is recognised outside of the Netherlands.
How long do Dutch Masters degrees take?
Masters degrees in the Netherlands can take one to two years to complete rather than the standard one year as in the UK, and Dutch Masters programmes in engineering can last even longer. The Dutch university year typically starts in September and finishes in June.
The best way to find out how long you’ll be studying for your Masters degree in the Netherlands for is to check with the university you’re applying to.
Fees and funding
As a guide, a Dutch Masters qualification will typically cost an EU student €1,700 per year (depending on which higher education institution you apply to - Universities of Applied Sciences can cost considerably more).
As a student from the EU you’re also entitled to financial support from the Dutch government to help you to cover your tuition fees. To benefit, you’ll need to be an EU citizen, under the age of 30 and be able to commit to working 32 hours each month for a Dutch-based company, and to pay national insurance from that wage.
The tuition fee cost for non-EU postgraduate students is typically higher at around €8,000 per year, and unfortunately you’re unlikely to benefit from the same financial support as EU students.
However funding, scholarships, and loans are available from higher education institutions; so regardless of your nationality you should check specific details of any available financial support with the university you're applying to.
Visas and Immigration
If you're an EU national you won't need a visa to undertake Masters study in the Netherlands, but you may need to apply for a temporary residence permit.
If you're not an EU national, you'll need proof of your place on a Masters course to gain a residence permit. This permit will usually be valid for 12 months, so if your Masters course is longer than a year, you’ll need to remember to renew it so that you’re able to continue your studies.
In addition to visas and residence permits both EU and non-EU students must buy health insurance as a legal requirement of being a postgraduate student in the Netherlands.
Entry requirements and application
To study at postgraduate level at all three types of higher education institution in the Netherlands you'll need a minimum of a Bachelor's degree or equivalent. You'll also need to pass an English language test and may even be required to complete an interview over the phone or even in person.
The Dutch university you’re applying to should be able to specify their exact course entry requirements to you when you make an enquiry or application with them.