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Study in the Netherlands

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Study in the Netherlands

The Netherlands, also known as Holland, is part of mainland Europe. It sits in Western Europe, with an extensive coastline to the North Sea, and shares land borders with Germany and Belgium. The Netherlands was the first non-native English speaking country to offer courses taught in English to international students. International students can study programmes in Dutch or English, making it a great option for studying abroad.

Study in Netherlands is similar to other popular study abroad destinations in terms of duration:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (BA, BSc, BEng): 3-4 Years
  • Masters Degree (MA, MSc, MEng): 1-2 Years
  • PhD: 4 Years

The Dutch higher education system is made up primarily of three different types of institution.  These are Research Universities, Universities of Applied Science and Institutes for International Education.

Certain degrees levels are only available from each institution type.

  • Bachelors: Available at Research Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences
  • Masters: Available at all Institution types
  • PhDs: Available only at Research Universities

The Netherlands is an established and revered seat of higher education. In the 2016 QS World University Rankings, two Dutch universities are listed in the top 100. These are the Delft University of Technology and the University of Amsterdam.



  • Population: 17,081,507 (2017, CBS)
  • Capital: Amsterdam
  • Geographical size: 41,540 km2
  • GDP: € 737.048 billion (2017, CBS)
  • Official EU language(s): Dutch
  • Currency: Euro

Higher education in the Netherlands

  • Student visas and immigration
  • Scholarships and financial support
  • Number of higher education institutions: 62
  • Number of students in higher education: 714,490 (2017, ECBS)
  • Number of international students in higher education: 122,000 (2017/2018, Nuffic)
  • Language of instruction: The Netherlands offers more than 2100 English-taught study programmes and courses covering a broad range of fields (http://www.studyfinder.nl/). All programmes and courses lead to a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral/PhD degree, a diploma or certificate. For those students who master the Dutch language, the Netherlands also offers many different programmes in Dutch.
  • Typical tuition fees: In the Netherlands tuition fees are relatively low, compared with English-speaking countries. Annual tuition fees for a degree programme or course at a Dutch higher education institution start at €2,060 for students from the European Union (EU). Exceptions are private institutions and university colleges. The cost of programmes and courses for non-EU students are generally higher.Typical tuition fee for non EU-students:
    • Bachelor’s degree: (average) €6,000 – €15,000
    • Master’s degree (average) €8,000 – € 20,000
      More information is available from the studyfinder online database.
  • Average length of a full-time higher education programme in the Netherlands:
    • Bachelor’s degree programme: 3 – 4 years
    • Master’s degree programme: 1 – 2 years
    • Doctorate/PhD: 4 years


8 reasons to study in Holland – Why should you study in the Netherlands?

Did you know that 1 in 10 students in the Netherlands is an international student? The Netherlands has more than 100,000 international students and that number is increasing every year. So why should you study in the Netherlands? 

1. There are 2,100 + programmes in English

Dutch universities offer the largest number of English-taught programmes in continental Europe. Also, 95% of the Dutch speak English, so it’s easy to communicate in daily life. Find your study programme!

2. Get high quality education and value for your money

The quality of Dutch institutions is well-recognised. The tuition fees and cost of living are considerably lower than in English-speaking countries.

Also, there are lots of scholarship opportunities.

3. Be part of an international community

The Netherlands’ many international students come from more than 160 different countries. Dutch society is strongly connected to other cultures, the business community and the world. The Dutch are open-minded and direct, so it is easy to meet them and exchange ideas.

4. Develop valuable skills and be more successful

The Dutch teaching style is interactive and student-centred. Studying in the Netherlands means developing your own opinion, an open mind and increasing your international orientation. You will develop valuable skills such as analysing, solving practical problems and creative thinking.

5. Live in one of the safest and happiest countries in the world

The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world, according to the 2016 Global Peace index and belongs to the top 10 happiest countries in the world. Read more about the good Dutch standard of living in the OECD’s Better Life Index.

6. Have the rest of Europe at your doorstep

An international trip is just around the corner. In just three hours you can be in Paris. London and Berlin are just a five or six hour train ride away. The Netherlands is the gateway to Europe!

7. Get plenty of international career opportunities

The Netherlands is the 18th largest economy in the world. Some of the world’s biggest multinationals, including Philips, Heineken, KLM, Shell, ING and Unilever, are Dutch. The Netherlands is a world leader in many areas of expertise, including agriculture, water management, art & design, logistics and sustainable energy.

8. Start a career in the Netherlands after graduation 

The Dutch government wants to attract knowledge and retain talent. International graduates can therefore apply for a residence permit of one year to find a job, or start a business within three years of graduation. For more info on this orientation year as well as tips on how to find a job, join our Holland Alumni network to increase your chances on the job market.

Find out more and apply

For the essential information about studying in the Netherlands and applying for higher education programmes, visit the Study in Holland website.

Important information about choosing a Dutch Institution


As most courses and degrees run for more than one year most international students will require an entry visa called a Provisional Residence Permit or Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf (MVV) in Dutch. Your MVV will allow you entry into the country for a six month period and once in the country you will need to apply for a Residence Permit – your chosen University should do this on your behalf.

A Provisional Residence Permit (MVV) will only be granted if your application meets certain requirements, including but not limited to:

  • You must have a valid passport
  • You have sufficient financial means
  • All required fees have been paid
  • You have a letter from your host University stating you have or will be enrolling

Read our Netherlands Student Visa Guide, or find out more about the Visa and Permits required for your nationality you can use Nuffic’s Visa Wizard.

English Language

A level of competence with the English language is required before you can study at degree level in Holland as with other destinations, this will need to be proven when applying for your course by showing the results of an accepted English Language test. You will require a score no lower than 6.0 IELTS or TOEFL 550 (Paper Based), 213 (Computer Based). Other language tests may be accepted so please check with your chosen institution.

For more English Language advice please see the Language Requirements and Advice page.

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Why Study in the Netherlands?

Higher education in the Netherlands is subsidised by the government and helps to keep tuition costs below that of the main study abroad destinations – USA, Australia and the UK. The qualifications will boost your career prospects as well as show you as an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinker for choosing a less well-known destination.

The Dutch are a welcoming nation of open minded and tolerant people and you will find a very diverse culture in most cities and their Universities. There is a lot to do and see in the country, some of which is described in the “About the Netherlands” section to the right. The country offers excellent transport links to other European countries which gives you the option of travelling and sightseeing in other popular destinations such as France and Germany at a low cost during your time there. For more information on Studying in the Netherlands visit the official Nuffic Site.

About the Netherlands

The capital of The Netherlands is Amsterdam where you will find over 20 education institutions of varying sizes. It is a cultural hub of The Netherlands and offers numerous museums and points of interest as well as having a very active social scene and nightlife. Other major cities such as Rotterdam, The Hague (Den Haag), Utrecht and Eindhoven all have education institutions and their location is shown on the map below. Over 16 million people live in the country where the main language is Dutch but most speak excellent English. The Netherlands has a typical maritime climate with mild winters and cool summers. Expect changeable weather conditions throughout the year with few extremes. Tourist Highlights in the Netherlands include:

  • Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam)
  • Mauritshuis (Den Haag)
  • Anne Frank Huis (Amsterdam)
  • Keukenhof Gardens (Lisse)

For more information on The Netherlands you can read our Living in The Netherlands article, visit the official Holland tourism site or read the popular Lonely Planet guide.

Cost of Studying & Living

The currency in the Netherlands is the Euro (€).

On average, a student from an EEA country or Switzerland can expect to pay €2,060 as their annual tuition fee for the academic year 2018/19. Students from other countries can expect to pay between €6,000 and €15,000 for a bachelor’s programme and between €8,000 and €20,000 for a masters programme. However, this does depend on your choice of higher education institution. If you choose a private university, your tuition fees will be higher. Universities in the Netherlands offer two different payment plans, and you may be eligible for a tuition fee loan or grant. Nuffic maintain a database of these that you can search.

The expected cost of living is approximately €800-€1,100 a month for a typical student life.

Discounts for students are available on many leisure activities and transport costs can be reduced by buying a discount card for rail travel.
The main living costs are:

  • Rent – €350-€800 per month
  • Groceries/Eating Out – €180 per month
  • Study Materials – €50 per month
  • Insurance (if you are not an EHIC holder) – €80 per month
  • Clothes/Entertainment – €100 per month

Financing your studies is something that needs to be thoroughly considered. Dependent on your nationality, working while studying for a limited number of hours is allowed. Your employer will have to apply for a work permit on your behalf and you should not assume there will be a job available as part of your budgeting.

Healthcare Insurance

If you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Swiss national, and you are not working or doing an internship whilst you study in Holland, you are likely to be eligible for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which should cover any medical costs during your time in Holland. You can apply for an EHIC card in your own country before starting your studies.

Should you take on employment or a paid internship during your time in Holland, you are obliged to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance cover, known as zorgverzekering. This insurance covers only your medical expenses. Your chosen university in Holland should be able to assist with selecting the best deal for you from those available from Dutch insurance companies.