Situated in the heart of Europe, the Netherlands is the most internationally connected country, that holds some of the best student-centred Education across the world. As an international student, studying abroad in the Netherlands, you will be studying in one of the top 10 happiest countries in the planet. Not to mention, you will be surrounded by beautiful rural areas and charming cosmopolitan cities.  

Are you an international student? Do you want to know how to apply for your Netherlands university application? We’ve got you covered. Our free guide covers the qualifications and experience needed, language exam preparation, deadlines and tips for a successful study abroad university experience.  


To study abroad in the Netherlands, most universities will require you to have secondary school qualifications for university admission.  

  • Most universities will require an IB Diploma of at lest 24 points (or your home country’s equivalent qualification). In the Netherlands, international students are required to study English, Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics.   
  • International student grade requirements will vary depending on your university of choice. Check your university requirements to ensure that you qualify for your degree.  

If you do not have qualifications for university admission, do not panic! There are options for you to do your degree without these qualifications! 

  • You can explain any mitigating circumstances affecting why you where unable to get these grades in your personal statement. This may be enough to get into university as an international student.  
  • To increase your application chances, you could take foundation courses and exams to qualify you onto the degree.  
  • Commonly accepted foundation courses include VWO and VAVO courses, which are provided by Boswell Beta and CCVX in the Netherlands. You will be required to qualify in specific subjects. So, if you take these courses, ensure that you contact your university to see which subjects they will require you to complete.  
  • If you are over 21, you can take the 21+ test instead of these foundation exams.  
  • If you are applying for a PhD or Postgraduate study and did not get your undergraduate qualifications, you can study a pre-masters qualification abroad in the Netherlands.  


  • If you were not Educated in an English speaking country (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, UK, USA or South Africa) or in Dutch, you will need to take a language proficiency test to study abroad.  
  • Dutch university degrees are both Dutch and English taught, so you will need to pass language exams based on your university degree choice.  
  • To certify for English taught degrees you can choose from IELTS, TOEFL and CAE language exams.  
  • These tests have different fees and styles, so make sure to find the best language exam for you.  
  • The minimum grades required for English Language exams are: 
  • IELTS – 6 
  • TOEFL – 550 (for PBT) or 213 (for iBT) 
  • CAE – C 
  • For your university degree, the most common Dutch language exams include NT2 and CNaVT tests.  
  • The minimum grade required for these tests is B2 for international students.  
  • This is the standard required language qualification for undergraduate study. However, language requirements vary depending on your university choice.  
  • If you did not pass the language test for your degree, you can do a language preparation course in the Netherlands.  


  • For Undergraduate study, aptitude tests are commonly not required.  
  • For Postgraduate study, most universities require you to take an aptitude test.  
  • Each university will accept different tests. The most common tests used across universities are GRE and GMAT tests.  
  • The score required on each of these tests are: 
  • GRE – 310-330 
  • GMAT –  600 
  • A statement of purpose is crucial for your application as it will set you apart from other applicants with similar qualifications. 
  • Most universities request a statement of purpose, so this is essential for your application.  
  • In a statement of purpose, you are given the opportunity to introduce yourself to the University.  
  • A successful statement will compel your assessor that you are the best candidate for the course.  
  • When writing your statement, focus on your experiences and interests in your degree and explain what your visions are for the university.  
  • Avoid vague and generic statements and focus on your specific achievements and aspirations. 
  • Make sure that your statement is tailored to each university you apply for. For example, you could tailor your application to show how you could contribute to research that is being done in your university department, or to show why you will be successful within your favourite modules of your chosen course. 
  • In an interview with Raif Howley, industry professional Prof. Désirée van Gorp, revealed the key features of a successful application.  
  • When writing your application, you must include your personality, future aspirations and experiences within the field.  
  • Focus on aspects that show your leadership, entrepreneurship and stewardship.  
  • Prof. Désirée van Gorp also explained that you should write in a way that shows your achievements modestly to avoid showing off and boasting.  
  • It is also useful to explain why you are choosing their university.  
  • The length of your Statement of Purpose should be 1-2 paragraphs, consisting of approximately 500-1500 words.  
  • This may differ depending on your university choice so check their specific statement requirements. 
  • Your statement should be written in the language of your course (Dutch/English). 

If you really want to boost your chances for success in your university application, follow these tips for enhancing your experience.  

  • What excites you in your degree field?  
  • Read about it and enjoy your favourite media in the field (videos, podcasts, current news)! You can even attend live talks and seminars in your local university.  
  • This is a fantastic way to expand your knowledge for interviews, and will help you write about your interests in your study abroad application. 
  • Attend summer schools. This looks great on your application, allows you to make friends and can increase your confidence in the field.   
  • Do online courses for free! This will prepare you for your studies and provide support as you increase your knowledge. 
  • Enter competitions. Not only will this boost your application, but it will also provide you with rewarding educational experiences that can give you a real impact in your industry.  
  • Get some industry experience through part time jobs and internships! 


To study abroad as an international student, you may be required to show that you qualify for your course by taking an entrance exam. These are common for PhD and Masters applications, but uncommon amongst Batchelor’s applications.  

The most common university exams are GRE and GMAT exams. You can take these exams online at home or at a local exam center in your country. It is recommended that you give yourself at least 6 months to prepare for this exam so that you have enough time to revise, re-take tests and for your results to be processed. University entrance exam fees vary depending on the country you are sitting the exam in.  


  • To qualify for a PhD or Master’s, there are two types of GRE tests you may be required to sit; general and subject. 
  • The General exam will test your analytical writing, quantitative ability and verbal reasoning skills, so focus your revision around this. 
  • Subject will test your knowledge in your field of study.  
  • The test is 3-4 hours long. 
  • The Score required for GRE tests at most universities is 310-330. 
  • The international fee is £114 GBP and fees for cancelling and rescheduling are £40 GBP.  
  • To prepare you will need to spend a good amount of time on courses, revising and doing mock exams. This will take roughly 1-4months. 
  • For more information about the exam and how to register follow:  


  • Typical fee worldwide is £190 GBP. 
  • The standard required GMAT score for university admission is 550-600. 
  • For more information about the exam and how to register follow:  


  • After applying you will be required to do a Study Choice Matching Questionnaire. 
  • This is provided on the Studielink platform and directly through your university.  
  • You are required to do this questionnaire to study abroad in the Netherlands. 


  • If you did not achieve the grades to start your Batchelor’s course, you can take VWO and VAVO courses to provide your eligibility.  
  • These courses take approximately 1 year depending of your level of study and can be arranged through your university.  
  • To study abroad, the university may also require you to sit exams for specific subjects so check your university site for these details.  
  • You can take courses and exams for these qualifications online in your home country or in the Netherlands.  


Here is a list of the standard documents/procedures needed to apply: 

  • Secondary/higher education transcript of certification (VWO/equivalent). 
  • Statement of Purpose,  
  • Recommendation Letter (reference), (if requested). 
  • Portfolio of previous work (CV), (if requested). 
  • Language proficiency certificate in (English/Dutch). 
  • Interview (if requested). 
  • This will vary depending on your university, so check your university to see which are required.  

For Masters applications you will need the previous documents and: 

  • Degree Transcript of Certification (Batchelor’s/equivalent). 
  • Aptitude test certificate (if requested). 
  • Your post-graduate project outline. 

Application procedure: 

  • You can apply for your degree as an international student, via Studielink  
  • Studielink is one of the best ways to apply for university in the Netherlands, as it allows international students to apply to multiple courses at the same time and make changes if you change your mind.  
  • To study in the Netherlands, some universities may require you to apply directly on their site.  
  • Once your application has been submitted, prepare for your interview (if your university requires one). 
  • The chances are that you have been admitted to your university. Congratulations! 🎉🎉🎉 
  • Your university will soon send you an official letter of admission & confirmation. 
  • If you did not get into university, there are other options out there for you!  
  • These could include, taking an access course (VWO/VAVO) via your chosen university or taking a gap year to gain experience working in the industry. 

Other preparations not mentioned in this list are visas and funding. Ensure that you gather your funding (e.g. Scholarship applications) and organise your visa early to study abroad in the Netherlands. 


The earliest deadlines for submitting Netherlands university applications is the 1st of May 2022. However, deadlines vary between universities. You must check your university site to ensure that your application is submitted as soon as possible. Some universities may also be in high demand so it is recommended that you submit your application ASAP.  


  • When application registration becomes available  
  • Begin applying: 1st October 2023. This is the time that most university admissions are open for applications. 
  • Application Test Deadline: 1st Nov 2022. Complete your application test by this time to ensure time for exam processing and re-sits.  
  • Application Deadline: 1st May 2023.  
  • University Interviews: 1st May – 1st Sept 2023. Universities may offer interviews within this timescale, so prepare for them after you have submitted your application. 
  • Secondary School Results Day: 6th July. Your IB Diploma (or equivalent) results will be given around this time. At this time, you will find out if you have secured your place at university. 
  • The chances are that you got into university! Well done! Don’t forget to book your accommodation and travel!  
  • If you did not get into university, now is the time to consider other options. These could include, taking an access course (VWO) via your chosen university or taking a gap year and gaining experience working in the industry.  

This timeline does not include 2 other essential preparations you must make; visa applications and arranging funding (e.g. by applying to scholarships etcetera). You must ensure that you begin this as soon as possible for your international studies. 

This is the standard way to apply to study abroad in the Netherlands, but there may be other modes for obtaining your university degree. 


The cheapest tuition fees in the Netherlands are approximately €1,950/year. However, fees can go to €15,000/year at some of the top Netherlands universities.  


For the cheapest international study abroad opportunities, it is strongly recommended that you apply for funding to cover your degree abroad. Universities and charities offer thousands of scholarships, bursaries and grants to fund international students studying in the Netherlands.  

Your eligibility for these international student funding opportunities will depend on your grades, potential, income, country, gender and situation. You will need to check each funding offer to see if you are eligible for study abroad funding.  

Check your university’s website to see how they can make your international education more affordable.  

We sincerely hope that this article helped you to explore your study abroad options in the Netherlands. We hope that you now feel confident in your university choices and are equipped to begin a successful application. If the Netherlands is not right for you, make sure take advantage of our other articles that provide several international study abroad opportunities. 

If you are considering studying abroad why don’t you discuss your prospects and opportunities with experts at Lurnable’s dedicated study abroad counselling division LurnPathways?

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