Study in the Netherlands: Admission Cycle, Process, Deadlines, Requirements

The Netherlands is a country that offers good educational and professional opportunities. If you are among the thousands of Indians who want to study in the Netherlands, you must plan your application accordingly, keeping the following things in mind:

  • Decide what kind of program(s) and university to apply to.
  • Thoroughly read up on the application process to that program/university.
  • Get all their documents prepared.

This article will provide information to prospective international students in the Netherlands regarding the admission process and requirements.

Timeline for Admission to Netherland Universities

Month Details
October 2020 Admissions open
15 January 2021 Admissions for Numerus Fixus programs close
1 April 2021 Admissions for Research University programs close
May/August 2021 Admissions for Applied Sciences University programs close
June 2021 Confirmation Statement deadline

Please note that this table only gives an overview of the whole admission cycle. It is further divided between first-cycle programs, which are of UG level, and second-cycle programs, which are of PG level.

Application Process for Admission to Netherlands Universities

Before starting the application process, you must decide what type of higher educational institution in Netherlands you want to study at:

  • Research University
  • University of Applied Sciences
  • Institutes for International Education
  • University Colleges

Of these, the first two are the most popular options to study in the Netherlands. The difference between the two is that the former gives more emphasis to academic learning and the latter to practical learning. This is true in case of all subjects, not just for science.

The next step is deciding what type of course you want to join:

  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • PDEng
  • PhD

You must also choose whether to look for an English-taught or Dutch-taught program. The application process and deadlines will vary depending on which course(s) you are seeking admission for.

Another important factor that affects the admission process is whether or not you are seeking admission to a Numerus Fixus program. These are essentially programs at certain universities that have a fixed number of seats available, because they are high in demand. Some examples are:

  • Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • International Business Administration
  • International Relations
  • Physiotherapy
  • Computer Science

These programs (usually Dutch-taught) have Decentralized Selection, with lottery-style degree allotments. They have earlier application deadlines and a stricter application process which may involve an exam or interview to assess the candidate’s skills.

How to Apply for Admission to Netherlands Universities

There are two modes of application - one through the common portal and the other through the individual universities’ websites. It is important that you check your preferred university’s page to confirm which mode they accept. Upon completion of the application process and the reception of an offer to a program, you must send a Confirmation Statement to the university to gain successful admission.

Common Portal for Admission to Netherlands Universities

The common portal to higher educational institutions in the Netherlands is Studielink. The centralized application process is as follows:

  1. Register for an account.
  2. Provide your personal details.
  3. Wait to receive a verification code and use that in the portal.
  4. Start filling in the university application.
  5. Provide payment details, although Studielink itself can be used free of cost.

While filling out the form, you will most likely have to contact the university you are applying to, who will instruct you on what information to provide. Some documents like Statement of Purpose (SOP) for Netherlands may have to be directly sent to the specific university, even though you are making a common application form.

The common application form via Studielink allows a student to apply to at most 4 programs, before the deadline of 1 May. However, it is to be noted that this number is only 2 in case of Numerus Fixus programs, which have to be applied for by 15 January, 23:59 hours. This further excludes programs in Medicine, Dentistry, Dental Hygiene and Physiotherapy, for each of which you can send only 1 application.

Netherlands University Website Applications

Individual universities have their own application processes. While many undergraduate programs and some Masters programs have the Studielink option, a good number of postgraduate programs require you to apply directly through the application portal available in each university website. Some examples are:

There are different application deadlines for different universities in the Netherlands, and even for different programs in each university, but most of them subscribe to the dates given by Studielink.

Entry Requirements for Admission to Netherlands Universities

UG Entry Requirements in the Netherlands

The minimum entry requirements to an undergraduate program are:

  • Standard 12 school-leaving certificate, with around 75% in five subjects
  • Assessment qualification in case of Numerus Fixus programs
  • Language proficiency certificate, in English or Dutch

Very often, certain programs set cutoffs for English and Mathematics that you must have obtained in your prior educational certificate. If you do not meet the requirements for a course, and are 21 years of age, the university may specify that you must qualify the 21+ Test to gain admission.

PG Entry Requirements in the Netherlands

The minimum entry requirements to a graduate program are:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Language proficiency certificate, in English or Dutch
  • Test scores of aptitude tests like GRE and GMAT, if applicable
  • Personal Statement, if applicable
  • Letter of Recommendation, if applicable
  • Interview, in some cases
  • Prospective project outline, if applying to a Research Master’s program

Your GPA score in the prior degree may be a deciding factor, with programs keeping cutoffs that you must meet. For example, if you are planning to do an MS in the Netherlands, you will need a GPA of about 7.5 on a scale of 10.

English Tests to Study in the Netherlands

Over 2,000 university programs in the Netherlands are taught in English, as a majority of dutch people are fluent in English. In fact, the Netherlands has the highest percentage of non-native English speakers in the world. Therefore, Dutch universities ask international candidates to provide proof of English language proficiency, such as IELTS, TOEFL, etc.

English Test Average Score Required by Netherlands Universities
TOEFL 550 in PBT or 213 in iBT
CAE Grade C

Each exam has different fees and testing styles, so it is recommended that students go through the details of every individual one, to find the right fit for them.

Normally it is not possible to study in the Netherlands without IELTS or similar language proficiency exams. If you happen to qualify the student visa cutoff but have a score lower than the course cutoff, there is an option to make up for it by doing an additional preparatory course in the Netherlands. Additionally, there is a possibility of Language Requirements being lifted due to the Covid-19 situation, so that international students may find it easier to apply to the next academic year.

Dutch Tests to Study in the Netherlands

Although most Indian students may not prefer to take Dutch tests to study in the Netherlands, the option exists for those who are interested. There are mainly two Dutch language tests accepted by universities, which are:

  • NT2
  • CNaVT

Educational institutions usually ask for a proficiency level of B2, which is as per CEFR standards.

Subject Tests to Study in the Netherlands

At the undergraduate level, there are not many required tests, but if students do not meet the eligibility requirements for the particular course, they may be asked to take the 21+ Test. This test is only available to those residing in the country, holding a TOEFL or IELTS score.

At the postgraduate level, certain courses ask for students to show their aptitude in relevant subjects in order to gain admission. There are generally two tests used for this purpose:

  • GRE General Test or Subject Tests
  • GMAT

The two tests follow different patterns and test students in different areas, but they largely overlap in their usage. For example, both tests can be taken into consideration if you are applying for an MBA in the Netherlands. Students are asked to present either a GRE score of 310-330 or a GMAT score of about 600 at Netherlands business colleges.

Documents Required for Admission to Netherlands Universities

Other than the filled online application form itself, you will need the following documents:

  • Copy of valid passport
  • Valid visa for the duration of study
  • Copies of past academic transcripts
  • Copies of relevant awards and certificates, if required
  • English or Dutch proficiency test scores
  • Subject test scores, if applicable
  • Copy of application fee payment
  • Statement of Purpose, i.e Motivation Letter
  • Resume or CV, if applicable
  • Medical report
  • Criminal Offence record

You will need to upload these as soft copies, along with passport-sized photographs wherever necessary.

Payment of Fees to Netherlands Universities

Depending on the university, students have to pay a non-refundable application fee of EUR 50-100. Once you have gained admission, you will also need to pay the tuition fees to the university, which can be done online via VISA or MasterCard. An advantage of studying in the Netherlands is that the tuition fee is comparatively cheaper, and even then there are plenty of funding opportunities available in Netherlands universities.

Netherlands Student Visa Requirements

Before getting a Netherlands Student Visa, non-EU citizens need to obtain an Entry Residence Permit known as MVV, which will be applied for by the university you are enrolled in. Since most university programs are longer than 90 days’ duration, you will need a Temporary Residence Permit known as VRV. For this you will require:

  • Valid passport details
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Acceptance letter from the university
  • Health insurance in the Netherlands
  • Proof of financial capability
  • Copy of fee payment details
  • Your photographs

You will need to take the Dutch health insurance separately, and may also have to apply for a Work Permit if you plan on doing internships or part-time jobs during your time in the Netherlands.

Reasons for Rejection of Application

Since the Student Visa can only be taken after receiving an offer to study at a university in the Netherlands, one must ensure that the university applications are managed properly. You may be rejected if:

  • Your passport is invalid.
  • Your academic record is not satisfactory.
  • You did not write a good Statement of Purpose.
  • You did not meet the cutoffs for required subject tests.
  • You did not meet the language proficiency requirements.
  • Your financial plan shows that you will not be able to cover all the expenses.

The Netherlands is a sought-after destination for higher studies because it provides quality education at lower costs with sufficient career opportunities. Even the top universities in the Netherlands do not set an extremely high bar for admission requirements, and in most cases the institutions offer alternatives to those who fail to meet these requirements.


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