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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 over 2,000 Masters degrees in the Netherlands are now taught in English.
|Masters Study in the Netherlands - Key Details|
|Oldest University||Leiden University (1575)|
|Course Length||1-2 Years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||€2,143|
|Academic Year||September to August|
Dutch universities have been welcoming international students for centuries, but why should you consider the Netherlands for your Masters degree?
There are three main types of university offering Masters degrees in the Netherlands:
|University||THE 2020||QS 2020||ARWU 2019|
|Wageningen University & Research||59||125||101-150|
|University of Amsterdam||=62||64||101-150|
|Delft University of Technology||=67||50||151-200|
|Erasmus University Rotterdam||69||183||68|
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.
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.
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.
The application procedure for postgraduate study abroad in the Netherlands varies:
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).
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.
Universities often offer Dutch language courses.
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.
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:
More information is available on the Nuffic website. Masters study in the Netherlands is also perfect preparation for a Dutch PhD.
Masters tuition fees in the Netherlands are regulated by the Dutch Government. The current price of a Masters at a Dutch university is €2,143 per year for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. Other international students will pay between €8,000 and €20,000 for a Masters.
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals don’t need a visa to study in the Netherlands (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.
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you can work without restrictions during your Masters, but other international students can only work 16 hours a week during term time, or full-time during the holidays (with a work permit).
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 health insurance policy.
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 Travel Pass
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.
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!
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). Food can cost around €300 per month.
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.
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.
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 €2.50 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 are an affordable destination for postgraduate study abroad, with fee caps for courses and access to student loans and scholarships.
The Dutch government sets a standard rate for Masters fees at public universities. This figure is currently €2,143 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.
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).
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.
Not all international students require a visa to study a Masters in the Netherlands:
All foreign students need to register with their local Dutch council once they have arrived in the country.
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:
As the spiritual home of the Erasmus programme, the Netherlands is an excellent destination for study abroad. Today, a Masters in Holland means studying at historic universities in one of the world's most international university systems.
The Dutch university system stretches back to the sixteenth century and has supported some of the most important developments in western thought, from the first electric battery to the origins of modern biology and taxonomy. The country also has a proud tradition of welcoming international students and scholars - reflecting its famously cosmopolitan culture and liberal social values.
Masters students in the Netherlands today have excellent opportunities to visit some of Europe's most beautiful university cities, from the picturesque canals of Amsterdam and Leiden to the striking modern skyline of Rotterdam.
Over 85,000 students study abroad in the Netherlands, making the country one of the most popular destinations in Europe and reflecting its focus on international education.
Masters degrees in the Netherlands can be one or two years long, depending on the course type and subject area. The Dutch academic year runs from September to June.
The cost of a Masters degree in the Netherlands depends partly on student nationality. EU and EEA students typically pay around €2,000 per year. Fees for international students are higher, averaging around €8,000 per year. Costs will vary between specific programmes. For more details, take a look at our full guide to fees and funding for Dutch Masters degrees.
The Netherlands is one of the most multilingual countries in Europe and this is reflected in its university system. Dutch Masters degrees are taught in a range of languages, with many popular programmes available in English.
EU and EEA citizens won't need a visa to study a Masters degree in Holland, but will need to be registered with the immigration authorities. Students from other countries will need to apply for an entry visa. Assistance with this will be available from Dutch embassies (as well as universities).
You can read more about Dutch Masters degrees and studying abroad in the Netherlands in our full study guide. This includes an overview of the Dutch university system as well as more detailed information on student visas and immigration.
For advice on accommodation and living costs, see our guide to living in the Netherlands as a postgraduate student. You can also read our introduction to Dutch language tests for international students or our guide to Dutch university rankings.
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