Masters Degrees in Netherlands

Masters Study
Institutions
Student Life
Fees & Funding
Student Visas

Famous for its windmills, canals and picturesque cities, the Netherlands also has a proud history of international education and cultural exchange. The majority of the population are multilingual and many Masters degrees in the Netherlands are now taught in English.

Masters Study in the Netherlands – Key Details
Universities 50
Oldest University Leiden University (1575)
International Students 96,289
Course Length 1-2 Years
Typical Fees (Domestic / EU) €2,168
Academic Year September to August

Why study in the Netherlands in 2021?

Dutch universities have been welcoming international students for centuries, but why should you consider the Netherlands for your Masters degree?

  • Historic and renowned universities – The oldest Dutch universities date back to the sixteenth century and 11 are ranked in the world top 200 for 2021.
  • Affordable degree programmes – Dutch Masters fees are currently capped at €2,168 per year for EU students. Postgraduate loans are available for EU students under 55.
  • Innovation and creativity – Dutch scholars and inventors are responsible for developments as diverse as the first electric battery, the first central banking system, the first diagnostic electrocardiograph and (perhaps less popularly) the first speed camera.

Coronavirus updates for international students at Dutch universities

For the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on studying a Masters in the Netherlands, please read the official Study in Holland COVID-19 guidance page. Here you can find updates regarding travel restrictions and the effect of coronavirus on university teaching.


Dutch universities

There are three main types of university offering Masters degrees in the Netherlands:

  • Research universities carry out new research and scholarship. They offer more academic Masters programmes.
  • Universities of applied science or hogescholen focus on practical training and education in a range of subjects (including Arts and Humanities as well as Sciences). They typically offer more professional Masters degrees, with opportunities for internships, placements and other hands-on experience.
  • Institutes for international education focus on intercultural education and knowledge exchange. They offer specialised Masters degrees in appropriate areas.

Top 5 Dutch universities in 2021

University THE 2021 QS 2021 ARWU 2020
Wageningen University and Research=62115151-200
University of Amsterdam66=61101-150
Leiden University=70=12880
Erasmus University Rotterdam72=19780
Utrecht University=75=12152

These figures are from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. See our full guide to postgraduate rankings in the Netherlands for more.



Upcoming Masters open days in the Netherlands


Dutch Masters courses

Dutch Masters degrees are second-cycle qualifications. This means they are postgraduate degrees, completed after a first-cycle Bachelors (or similar).

Research universities usually award MA (Master of Arts) or MSc (Master of Science) degrees. These are taught courses, but may include a substantial research component.

Universities of applied science offer more professional programmes, incorporating additional internships, placements and other opportunities for hands-on practical training.

Because the Netherlands is part of the European Higher Education Area, Dutch universities use ECTS credits. Most Dutch MAs are worth 60 credits, whereas MScs and research Masters are 120 credits. Masters degrees are normally 1-2 years long.

Academic year

The Dutch academic year usually runs between September and June. The summer holiday period (between June and September) is often reserved for internships or dissertation work.

Teaching and assessment

Dutch Masters courses are very student-led, with a focus on your own initiative and independent learning. Assessment involves coursework and examinations as well as a final dissertation project.


How to apply

The application procedure for postgraduate study abroad in the Netherlands varies:

  • If your university accepts direct applications you can begin by sending an email enquiry or visiting the course website, using the links in our programme listings
  • If your university requires international students to pre-register you will need to apply using the Studielink website

Admissions requirements

Dutch universities will usually expect Masters applicants to hold a Bachelors degree (or equivalent in a relevant subject area).

You should be able to find out more about the specific requirements for your institution by getting in touch with them or browsing courses.

In some cases, places on courses will be limited and admissions will be more competitive. This may mean that you are asked to submit additional materials with your application, such as a personal statement and / or academic transcripts and references.

Applications to research Masters programmes may require you to outline any prospective project goals and demonstrate your preparedness for independent work in the field in question. You may also be asked to take part in an interview (which can sometimes be conducted over the phone for overseas students).

Language requirements

The Netherlands was the first non-native English speaking country to teach courses in English, and now many Masters degree programmes are available in either English or Dutch.

  • Programmes in English will require appropriate language skills and – if you are not a native speaker of English – these may need to be demonstrated by providing a language score. English language tests such as the IELTS and TOEFL are commonly accepted. You will normally need a minimum TOEFL score of 90 (internet-based) or an IELTS score of 6.5 or more.
  • Programmes in Dutch will require a Dutch language test. Alternatively, you could provide evidence of proficiency in Dutch, such as an existing qualification completed in the language.

Universities often offer Dutch language courses.

Application deadlines

Most Dutch Masters degrees begin in September, but universities set their own deadlines for applications.

Remember that applying to study abroad can take time – particularly if you also need to apply for a visa to study in the Netherlands. Aim to begin your application roughly a year before your course start date.


Working after your Masters

The Netherlands is so confident in the quality of its graduates that it maintains an online portal with advice for international students interested in working there after their degrees.

Holland and the Netherlands also offer very welcoming terms to graduate jobseekers of all nationalities:

  • EU and EEA citizens are automatically entitled to work in the Netherlands and can therefore remain in the country after graduation, provided their residence registration is maintained.
  • Other graduates are also allowed to remain in Holland for up to one 'orientation year'. During this period you will have the right to seek employment without a separate work permit. If you are successful you can then go on to apply for a longer-term permit under the Netherlands's Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme.

More information is available on the Nuffic website. Masters study in the Netherlands is also perfect preparation for a Dutch PhD.


Frequently asked questions

How much does a Masters in the Netherlands cost?

Masters tuition fees in the Netherlands are regulated by the Dutch Government. The current is €2,168 per year for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. Other international students will pay between €8,000 and €20,000 for a Masters.

Do I need a visa to study in the Netherlands?

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals don’t need a (although they will need to register with their local Dutch council). If you’re not a European citizen, you’ll usually need to apply for an entry visa and residence permit.

Can I work while studying a Masters in the Netherlands?

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you can , but other international students can only work 16 hours a week during term time, or full-time during the holidays (with a work permit).

Do international students need health insurance in the Netherlands?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid for EU and EEA nationals. If you don’t have an EHIC, you’ll need to purchase a private policy.



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As well as being attracted by historic universities and academic expertise, Masters students in the Netherlands enjoy a whole range of other cultural activities from visiting museums and galleries (including the largest Van Gogh collection in the world), to going boating on the famous canals, or just soaking up the café culture and superb nightlife.

Monthly utilities €166
Restaurant Meal €15
Monthly travel pass €85

The Netherlands also has excellent transport links (and is a member of the EU's borderless Schengen Area), so you can use spare time around your postgraduate studies to visit other parts of Europe.


Accommodation

A high population density means that housing is relatively expensive in the Netherlands and university accommodation is quite rare. Instead you are more likely to live in a privately rented room or flat near your institution. Most universities also maintain links with housing corporations that provide affordable accommodation for students.

Your university should be able to help you find housing. Its international office will be experienced in assisting foreign students to find accommodation and may maintain a list of local landlords or letting agencies with suitable facilities.

You can expect to pay €300-600 a month for a student rental in the Netherlands. This will vary depending on where you live and the type of housing you choose.

Once you've found your accommodation you'll need to make sure you understand 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!


Living costs

You should budget around €800-1,100 per month to live as a student in the Netherlands, depending on your lifestyle and whether you live in one of the more expensive cities (like Amsterdam).


Working

EU / EEA / Swiss students are free to work alongside their Masters without restrictions. Other international students will require a work permit and are permitted to work a maximum of 16 hours per week during term time.


Banking

The currency of the Netherlands is the Euro (€ or EUR). This is the same currency used by all neighbouring EU countries making movement around Europe easier.

There are several Dutch banks for international students to choose from. You will normally need to visit a branch to set up an account, providing your social security number, passport (or ID card), proof of address and residence permit (if required by your visa). Check with your university’s international office if you need help.


Transport

Getting around in the Netherlands is easy, with a comfortable and efficient high-speed rail network, plus metropolitan busses and trams.

Public transport is relatively inexpensive, at around €3.20 for a one-way bus or tram ticket. However, it’s definitely worth investing in a second-hand bike. These are easy to come by in the Netherlands and offer the perfect way to get around the country’s cycle-friendly cities.

The major Dutch airport is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. There are also four more international airports in other large cities.

The Netherlands is an affordable destination for postgraduate study abroad, with fee caps for courses and access to student loans and scholarships.


Masters fees

The Dutch government sets a standard rate for Masters fees at public universities. This figure is currently €2,168 a year for Dutch, EU, EEA and Swiss students.

Some restrictions apply. You will need to be studying at Masters level for the first time (with an exception for courses in Medicine or Education).

International students from outside the EU and EEA will also pay more to study a Masters in Holland. The exact amount is set by individual universities, but can be as much as €20,000 a year in some subjects.


Funding

EU students can apply for the same tuition fee loans (collegegeldkrediet) as Dutch students. These cover your full Masters fees, but will need to be paid back. All students under 55 are able to apply for these loans.

Various scholarships for international students in the Netherlands are also available. A list of current opportunities is maintained by Nuffic (the official Dutch international education portal).

Looking for more information?

Read our full guide to Masters funding in the Netherlands

Find out more

Holland is one of Europe's most multicultural, multilingual and cosmopolitan nations. This is reflected in a student visa and immigration system that welcomes legitimate applicants from all countries.


Basic visa requirements

Not all international students require a visa to study a Masters in the Netherlands:

  • Nationals of the EU and EEA can freely enter the Netherlands. Your university will be responsible for registering you with the Dutch immigration authorities (IND).
  • Students from other countries will usually need to acquire an entry visa (MVV) and a residence permit (VVR) for the duration of their studies in the Netherlands. Your university will usually apply for these for you and you may be able to collect them from a Dutch Embassy or Consulate in your home country before you travel.

All foreign students need to register with their local Dutch council once they have arrived in the country.


Health insurance

All students in the Netherlands must have some form of medical insurance, valid for the duration of their course.

The source of this will depend upon your age and nationality:

  • EU and EEA nationals will usually be covered by an existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will entitle you to healthcare in the Netherlands under reciprocal agreements with your home country.
  • Other students will usually need to take out private healthcare insurance (unless covered by an existing healthcare policy that is valid in the Netherlands).

Looking for more information

Read our full guide to Dutch student visas

Find out more

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