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Study in Netherlands

One of the most popular Northwest European countries due to its distinctive tulip fields, windmills, and expansive plains, the Netherlands is an excellent destination to become a professional or access cutting-edge educational programs. Are you considering studying in the Netherlands? If the answer is yes, then we recommend that you continue reading, because we will talk about the entire process, requirements, documents, costs and procedures that you must carry out as a foreigner to study, live and work in the historic nation of the Netherlands.

How to study in the Netherlands as a foreigner? What do you need?

The Netherlands is a country that, for several years, has been the focus of numerous advances in terms of politics, education, medicine, ecology, urban planning and the economy. In 2008, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development placed the Dutch education system in ninth place worldwide. In Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, we find 3 of the 100 best universities worldwide according to the OECD, which are: Delft, Leiden and Utrecht. As a foreigner, you should know that education in this country is classified into age ranges and academic levels. It is also important to highlight that there are more than 2,100 programs for foreign students that are taught in English , since more than 70% of the population is fluent in this language. This wide range of courses in English make the Netherlands a very attractive nation to study, regardless of the origin of the applicant. Likewise, there are many scholarships and financial aid that you can obtain to study in this country. Do you already feel encouraged? In that case, you must follow the steps that we will mention below, which we will talk about in more detail throughout the post:

  • Meet the admission requirements of the institution or university of your interest.
  • If you already know the academic program you want to study, you should verify if there are specific requirements that you must meet to enter it.
  • Although it is not necessary to have knowledge of the Dutch language, a good command of English is recommended.
  • Apply to the university or institution that interests you (in most cases you do not have to take an admission exam).
  • Apply for a visa and/or residence permit.

Speaking of the visa and residence permit to study in the Netherlands, it is important that you take several aspects into account. Whether or not you require a visa will depend on 3 factors : your nationality, the reason for your visit to the country (which in this case would be educational) and the duration of your stay (less than or longer than 3 months). Currently, in the Netherlands there are 2 types of visa, which are:

  • Schengen Visa: depending on your nationality, this visa is a requirement to enter the country regardless of the length of your stay.
  • Temporary Residence Permit (MVV): for any student with Latin American nationality who plans to spend more than 3 months in the country. In general, it is the university or educational institution that is in charge of processing this permit, once you have been accepted. The process is carried out in the months of May, June or July and takes 2 to 3 weeks.

As you can see, if you want to study in the Netherlands, you only have to take into account your nationality and the duration of the program to know the exact requirements. It is also useful to know that in the Netherlands, higher education is provided in two types of universities. In addition, it is possible to study at Institutes for International Education. Below we explain what the types are and how they differ:

  • Universities of Applied Sciences (HBO). They specialize in higher education in a particular field, such as art, agriculture, or technology. Its programs focus on professional practices that prepare students for the world of work and last between 4 and 6 years. They offer a wide career portfolio and in some cases, they also offer short courses.
  • Research Universities (WO). They are institutions focused on “Scientific Education”. They are characterized by their high academic level. For this reason and because of its smaller number compared to HBO, it is more difficult to enroll in a WO. The programs are shorter (3 years) and they are the only institutes in the Netherlands where you can study PhDs.
  • Institutes for International Education (IE) . They are study centers that, in most cases, belong to a WO. They are in charge of offering specialization courses, master’s degrees and doctorates. They cover a wide range of study areas and allow you to earn a master’s degree in 1-2 years. Due to their academic offer, it is clear that they are more appropriate institutions for people who already have university studies.

And to study a Dutch course? What does it take to learn the Dutch language as a foreigner? If so, again, the requirements depend on the duration of the program and your nationality, since there is no special visa to study Dutch. As we already mentioned, if you are fluent in English you will have no problem studying in the Netherlands and communicating with people. However, if you are interested in learning their official language, you will be pleased to know that there are several universities that offer Dutch courses to international students . Some of these institutions are the University of Amsterdam, University of Groningen and the iconic University of Leiden, the oldest in the country. Dutch courses are classified into different levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced). In advanced, students receive the necessary preparation to take the state assessment in Dutch: the NT2 exam.

How much does it cost to live in Netherlands?

Shared room
in the capital


Shared room
in another city


2 bedroom apartment
in the capital


2 bedroom apartment
in another city


Bus or Metro ticket

$5 / $8

Movie Ticket


A beer in a bar


A beer in the supermarket


Typical Street Food


Meal in a Restaurant


Medical consultation

$170 / $370

Phone plans

$4 / $20

Average Cost of Living per Month

USD $2751

It goes without saying that before you pack up and take the first flight to the Netherlands, you should consider how much it costs to live and study in the Netherlands. It is very important that you take into account all the expenses that you will have when moving to this country, such as the cost of air travel, visa and accommodation. In general, it is estimated that a person needs about $2,751 to live in the Netherlands for a month .

This figure reveals that this European country is not exactly the cheapest for foreigners. In fact, according to an article published in CEOWorld magazine, the Netherlands ranks 15th among the most expensive countries to live in. Despite this, we must not forget the excellent education that this country offers and the recognition that you would have internationally by completing one of its programs. Therefore, even if life is not the cheapest, it is worth making the investment to study in the Netherlands. To make a budget and organize your expenses, we recommend you take into account the following:

  • The costs of the Schengen visa and MVV (depending on which applies).
  • The city and the area where you will settle, since the price index may vary depending on it.
  • The price of the program you are going to study.
  • The monthly salary of the job where you are going to work.

Can you study in the Netherlands for free?

If you want to study in the Netherlands you should know that higher education is not free . Although the government supports all universities with funding (not including Nyenrode), students must pay their respective tuition. Fortunately, tuition fees in this country are reasonable, not to mention that some of their majors and academic courses are shorter in duration. Similarly, it is possible to obtain a scholarship through the Holland Scholarship program .

This program is especially aimed at students with nationalities that do not belong to any of the countries that make up the European Union (EU). In case you are already studying at a university in your country and want to continue your education in the Netherlands, you can also check with your institution if they offer an exchange program or agreement with a Dutch institution.

Study at the University in the Netherlands

From the beginning, we have been mentioning the international recognition of Dutch education. In 2017, the Netherlands received no more and no less than 122,000 foreign students. This figure places it on the list of the 10 European countries that receive the most foreign students . In an article published by Euronews in 2018, the spokesman for the Dutch Union of Educators (CNV), David Bruning, explained that the Dutch educational system is very attractive to foreigners because they can study in English at an affordable price and in an environment that does not overwhelm the student . For all this, studying at a university in the Netherlands will be an experience that will change your life. In addition to having the opportunity to share with students from up to 190 different countries, you will receive your academic training in one of the happiest and safest countries in the world.

Requirements to study at the university as a foreigner

As you already know, the universities in the Netherlands are divided into those of applied sciences and those of research. Regardless of the category of the institution where you want to study, the requirements you must meet are:

  • Have a good command of English, since 98% of the programs for foreigners are taught in that language.
  • To pursue a Bachelor’s degree, have a high school diploma. In some cases, it may also be necessary to have a year of undergraduate study in your home country.
  • For Master’s studies, you must have a bachelor’s degree in the equivalent area. In the MBA and master’s degrees in administration, finance or business, the GMAT or GRE exam must be taken.

These are general requirements, but there are other documents or procedures that vary according to the university of your interest. In general terms, you should perform the following steps:

  • Legalize and translate your documents: bachelor’s/licentiate/master’s degree, list of qualifications and official certificates (of birth or marriage). These documents must be apostilled and legalized by The Hague at the corresponding government offices. Finally, you must go with an accredited translator to translate your documents into English.
  • Pass the IELTS or TOEFL: these are evaluations that the universities in the Netherlands will ask you to pass to certify your command of English. They also admit other exams such as the TOEIC and the Cambridge CAE.
  • GMAT/GRE for Masters in Business, Marketing or Finance : The GMAT is the general exam for master’s degrees in business or management (MBA/MSc) and is valid for 5 years. The GRE is less common and is requested mainly in non-administrative postgraduate courses.

Requirements to study in an Institute for International Education (IIE)?

Apart from the universities, in the Netherlands there are also Institutes for International Education. In most cases, these establishments belong to Research Universities (WO). They offer specialization courses, master’s degrees and in a few cases, doctorates . The most popular institutions that fall into this category are:

  • Institute of Social Studies
  • Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies
  • Royal Tropical Institute
  • UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education

In these study centers you also find short courses in different areas and topics. Depending on the duration and the institution, the requirements may vary a bit. For example, if you have Cuban or Ecuadorian nationality, you will need a Schengen visa . The rest of the requirements will depend on the IIE and the duration of the program you are interested in, but as a general rule you must speak English and certificate and translate the relevant documents .

Steps to apply to study at the university in the Netherlands as a foreign student

If your dream is to study in the Netherlands, there is no reason not to fulfill it, since the admission process of the Dutch educational system for foreign students is relatively simple. Next, we tell you step by step what you should do:

  1. Contact the University of your interest. The first thing you have to do is contact the university that offers the program you are interested in and ask what the requirements are according to your profile and nationality. Remember that in this country there are more than 2,000 academic programs for foreign students, so you should take the time to choose the one that best suits what you are looking for.
  2. Legalize and translate your documents. It is necessary to legalize your bachelor’s degree for it to have international validity. Depending on your country of origin, you must enter the web portal of the agency or ministry that is in charge of processing document legalizations. You will also need a certified copy of your degree, which will have the same validity as the original. To conclude this process, look for a document translator to translate your papers from Spanish to English.
  3. Pass the TOEFL / IELTS: the Test of English as a Foreign Language is an exam that you must pass to prove to the university that you speak, read and write English well. The International English Language Testing System is very similar to the TOEFL, but it originates from the United Kingdom. Ask the university which test they require as proof of your English proficiency.
  4. Submit the University admission test (if any). Since in the Netherlands the line that separates Public and Private Universities is not very clear, it is not easy to deduce which ones have to take admission exams or not. For this reason, it is always better to ask the institution of your interest directly.
  5. Wait for the acceptance of your request. If you already met all the requirements and completed each of the steps, all you have to do is wait for them to accept you. Once the university contacts you, it is time to complete the visa procedures.

In which universities can I study in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is a country that has numerous institutions of international recognition. Universities of applied sciences, which prepare students for specific professions in the field of art and science, have between 20,000 and 40,000 students. According to the 2020 QS World University Rankings , the top 2 universities in the Netherlands are Delft University of Technology (ranked 50th) and the University of Amsterdam (ranked 64th). However, there are many other universities in the Netherlands renowned for the quality of their teaching. Some of them are:

  • utrecht university
  • Leiden University
  • Wageningen University
  • Maastricht University
  • Radboud University of Nijmegen
  • Hanze University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Groningen
  • Free University of Amsterdam

The most Popular Public Universities in the Netherlands

Private universities with the best international agreements

Visas to Study in the Netherlands

Do you want to study in this first world country? If the answer was positive, continue reading to find out about the types of visas that you can apply for, what are the requirements that will be requested and what is the process that you will have to follow to fulfill your dream.

MVV Student Visa in the Netherlands

Do you plan to study a bachelor’s or university program in the Netherlands for more than 3 months? Then you will need the MVV student visa. One of the advantages that this nation offers to foreign students is that, in general, the universities or institutes themselves are the ones that initiate the process to obtain the visa. This support from the institution undoubtedly builds trust and helps you to know from the beginning how the process works and what documents you should have on hand

This is what you need to apply for a MVV Student visa

  • Study visa application form. You can find the form by visiting the website of the Dutch Migration Service .
  • Complete copy of your passport, current and valid for at least 3 months.
  • Letter of acceptance from the university or institution where you are going to start your studies in the Netherlands.
  • Proof of solvency, to verify that you have sufficient funds to cover your stay. Every year, the minimum amount of the proof of solvency changes. From January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, the minimum coverage is $1074 (​€898) . The proofs accepted for this process are: letter from a financial institution or scholarship program for the amount mentioned, transfer to the institution or university where you are going to study or account statement in your name containing the balance equivalent to the amount minimum in your local currency.
  • Certificate of previous studies (high school in this case).
  • Pay the relevant consular fees. Currently, this visa has a cost of $208 (€174)
  • Have valid health insurance for Dutch territory.

These are the steps to apply for a MVV Student visa

  1. Make sure your passport and documents are not expired. The first thing we recommend you do is verify that your passport is valid, because the IND ( Immigration and Naturalization Service ) requires that it be valid for at least 6 months from the day you obtain the student visa.
  2. Select the program of your interest and wait for the acceptance letter. As we explained to you, the Dutch universities are the ones that manage the student visa process. For this reason, first of all, you must wait for the institution to approve your study application.
  3. The University submits the MVV application. When studying in the Netherlands as a foreigner, it is the university or institution that is in charge of submitting the MVV application. The university will receive a confirmation letter from the IND when the application has been received. This letter also stipulates the approximate time in which the IND will make its decision (maximum 60 days). You can follow this process by registering in “My IND” .
  4. Did they approve your MMV? Pick it up at the Dutch Embassy in your country. Congratulations! If the IND approved your application to study in the Netherlands with an MVV visa, you can now pick it up at the embassy or consulate of your country. You will have a maximum of 3 months to withdraw the MVV and you must make an appointment.
  5. Travel to Holland. If you already have the MVV in your hands and you have all the requirements, you are ready to travel to the Netherlands and begin your professional preparation. Important to note that the MVV is valid for 90 days. After this time, it will be replaced by the VVR. With this visa, you can also travel to any of the 26 countries that make up the Schengen Zone in Europe.

Can you study and work with MVV Student Visa?

As a holder of an MVV, you can only work in paid employment if your employer has a TWV (Temporary Work Permit) for you . With a TWV, you can work a maximum of 16 hours a week or full time during the summer (June, July, and August). You can also work as a freelancer as long as you meet the requirements of your MVV.

Tourist Visa or “Schengen”

If you plan to travel to the Netherlands to visit friends or relatives, do tourism and also participate in an educational course for less than 3 months , this is the visa that corresponds to you. However, it is important to know which nationalities need a Schengen Visa , as there are countries that are exempt from this visa. To check whether or not you need a Schengen Visa to travel to the Netherlands, click here .

Requirements for a Tourist visa

  • Copy of current passport Valid for at least 3 months at the end of the stay.
  • A good quality color photograph (3cm x 4cm) with a white background.
  • Proof of accommodation, hotel reservation or itinerary if traveling through an agency. Otherwise, an invitation by a legal resident or Dutch citizen.
  • Documents that demonstrate the possession of financial resources , such as bank account statements, tax returns or papers that certify the possession of real estate.
  • Travel medical insurance with a minimum coverage of USD $36,310 (€30,000). The insurance must cover all expenses related to urgent medical attention, emergency treatment, hospitalization and repatriation in case of death.
  • Current work or study certificates.
  • Pay the Schengen Visa fee for the Netherlands . Currently, its cost for the first time is USD $97 (€80).

Important: if you are under 18 years of age and traveling alone, you must have legal authorization from your parents or representatives and present your economic solvency documents.

How to apply for a Tourist visa

  1. Find a course of your interest, which lasts less than 3 months. In the Netherlands, summer courses are very popular, which are held in the months of June, July and August. Generally. These courses are in English and last from 4 to 18 days, perfect for your Schengen visa. For more information about short or summer courses in the Netherlands, we recommend you visit the website studyinholland.nl
  2. Complete the Schengen visa form. Once you have selected the course you are interested in studying in the Netherlands, you must fill out the tourist visa application form with your personal information. You can obtain this form at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country and you can request it up to 3 months before the scheduled date of your trip. An appointment is required to carry out this procedure.
  3. Wait for the Consulate’s decision. Under normal conditions, the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country takes 15 calendar days to make a decision. However, this process can take up to 60 days depending on your profile or if there is any problem.
  4. Approved visa? Prepare your trip! As soon as you have the Schengen Visa to study in the Netherlands for less than 3 months, you will be ready to evaluate everything related to the ticket, the stay and the cost of the course.

Can you study and work with a tourist visa?

Yes, in the Netherlands you can work during your short stay as long as your employer has a work permit issued by the UWV . This rule also applies to voluntary or unpaid work. You may also need the BSN (” burgerservicenummer” ) issued by the town hall. For more information, visit the official portal of the UWV.

Where can I study Dutch in the Netherlands?

Fortunately, there are different institutes in the country that offer Dutch courses to foreigners. Some of the most relevant are:

  • INTT (Institute for Dutch Language Education)
  • LTC (Language and Training Center)
  • Leiden University – Academic Language Center
  • Radboud in’to Languages
  • University of Twente – UT Language Center

What are the requirements to study in Dutch institutes or academies?

To study Dutch at any institute or language center in the Netherlands, you must have your MVV visa if the course lasts more than 3 months. Otherwise and if your nationality requires it, you must have the Schengen visa. In addition, each institution has its own admission requirements that you should consult when you have already selected the program of your interest. In general, you will most likely need to comply with the following:

  • Payment of course registration and monthly payments or classes (as applicable).
  • Take an exam to determine your level of Dutch (in case you don’t want to start from 0).

There are courses for all ages and levels, so don’t give up on your dream of learning Dutch.

How to Apply for a Dutch language course

Again, the process depends on each institution and the type of course you are applying to. The offer is quite varied so take your time to choose the program that best suits what you are looking for. The duration of the course is what will determine whether or not you need the MVV visa.

Remember that this visa is requested by the same institution, so it is extremely important that you contact the academy to start the process if the program lasts more than 3 months. If you will see private classes with a tutor for a few weeks and your nationality does not require a Schengen visa, it will be enough to buy a plane ticket and plan the rest of your trip.

There is no specific Visa to study Dutch

The Netherlands does not have a specific visa to learn its official language. However, if the Dutch culture has captured you enough to want to learn Dutch, there are several options available to you. If you complete the procedures for the student visa (MVV), you can participate in intense courses of up to 52 weeks. On the contrary, if you have a tourist visa that only allows you to be in the Netherlands for 3 months, you can enroll in short courses of 1-7 weeks or see private lessons with a Dutch tutor.

Scholarships and Grants to Study in the Netherlands

Thanks to the international recognition that education in the Netherlands has gained, today you have access to many interesting scholarships and financial financing . Here we mention the most popular:

  • Erasmus+
  • Dutch Scholarship
  • NN Future Matters Scholarship
  • Sino-Dutch Scholarship
  • Orange Knowledge Program
  • MENA Scholarship Program (MSP)
  • Orange Tulip Scholarship Program
  • Studied Scholarship
  • The Desmond Fortes Scholarships

The scholarships and financial support are aimed at all types of students, from many parts of the world and who wish to study a degree, postgraduate or undergraduate courses. Although each financing has its own requirements, we can distinguish several in general terms:

  • Not having European nationality.
  • Have applied to a bachelor’s or master’s degree program.
  • Certify your command of English by taking the TOEFL exam.
  • Not having studied in the Netherlands in the past.

In case you do not qualify for a scholarship, you also have the option of entering an exchange program if a university in your country has an agreement with a Dutch institution. For more information, we recommend you visit the official Study in Holland website.

Study and Work in the Netherlands

Do you want to work while you study in the Netherlands? Both the Schengen visa and the MVV Visa allow you to work, but it is necessary that both you and your employer meet some requirements. One of the mandatory requirements is that your employer must process a personal work permit for you . The law stipulates that, with the student visa, you can work a maximum of 16 hours a week or full time in the months of June, July and August. The work permit (TWV) must be requested by your employer at least 5 weeks before you start your work activities. The process is free and although you cannot do it on your own, you can ask your employer to give you a copy. Once your personal TWV has been approved, it is only valid for the job that was applied for. In other words, if you use your work permit for a different job, you would be working illegally in the Netherlands. If you want to know more about it, you can download the brochure of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment here .

Have you finished your studies and want to stay and work in the Netherlands?

Congratulations! If you have finished your studies in the Netherlands and want to stay working in the country of tulips, we have excellent news. After receiving your diploma and being a professional in every way, there will be hundreds of international recruitment agencies that will be interested in you. To find out more about the opportunities you have as a graduate of a Dutch university, you can visit the Holland Alumni website, an organization funded by the Dutch government that facilitates job search and connects graduates with employers and companies. At Go-Study-In, we want to help you fulfill your dream of studying in the Netherlands. For this reason, we invite you to fill out the following form and receive advice from our experts.

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