How to get into the University of Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam,(UvA), or Vrije University of Amsterdam (VA)?

The first thing you must decide is precisely which university you wish to apply to: the University of Amsterdam,(UvA), or Vrije University of Amsterdam (VA) – they are NOT the same institution, although both are excellent and located in the same lively and exciting city!

In addition, you need to be aware of the existence of Amsterdam University College,(AUC), a traditional liberal arts and sciences institution, whose degrees are, just to confuse you even more, validated and  issued by the University of Amsterdam.

The differences between these options are not simply a question of names, for AUC is 100 per cent residential and only accepts an extremely small number of students every year, whereas the University of Amsterdam has 43,000 students and uses non-profit housing associations to secure rental properties. Tuition fees also differ, see below.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - an overview

Established in 1632, the University of Amsterdam is a public, high research output university, ranked in the Top 20 in Europe and  61st in the world (QS, 2024). It has consistently been rated No 1, globally, for Communication Sciences and Media, while the following courses are in the world top 50:

  • Linguistics
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Accountancy
  • Finance
  • Economics and econometrics

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - Erasmus exchange programme

The University of Amsterdam has 15 designated research priority areas and runs 28 research institutes. It has produced six  Nobel prize winners and five Dutch prime ministers, among its many high-profile alumni.

The university takes part in Erasmus exchanges with 200 institutions and has over 40 academic partners in other continents. At present, 20 courses at undergraduate level are taught only in English, while at Master’s level, the choice is larger –some 200 courses.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - English courses at the UvA:

  • Actuarial Science
  • Business Analytics
  • Econometrics
  • Linguistics
  • PPLE (politics, psychology, law, economics)***
  • Ancient Studies
  • Communication Science
  • English language and culture
  • Literary studies
  • Psychology
  • Archaeology
  • Computational Social Science
  • European studies
  • Media and culture
  • Sign language linguistics
  • Business Administration
  • Cultural Anthropology and Development
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences ***
  • Political Science
  • Sociology

***Please note that PPLE, and  Liberal Arts and Sciences are so-called Selective Programs, with a fixed quota,different deadlines and a slightly different application process. There is intense competition to get a place, which is why candidates have to undergo a selection process. Since this can be time-consuming, the deadlines for applying to these courses are earlier than for  standard courses. Contact Elab for further detailed information on deadlines and how to apply.

The University of Amsterdam has seven faculties: humanities; social and behavioural sciences; economics and business; science; law; medicine; dentistry. Its overall acceptance rate for international students is somewhere around 4.3 percent, although this varies greatly from course to course.

The academic year is split into two 20-week semesters.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - Liberal Arts and Sciences at Amsterdam University College(AUC)

  • BA and BSc (Hons) degree courses are taught at Amsterdam University College, first established in 2009, as a joint initiative between VU and the University of Amsterdam.A close-knit community with under 1000 students, AUC has built a reputation for excellence and is part of the new wave of liberal arts colleges being created by the Dutch government.Entry requirements depend on whether you intend to take science, social science, or humanities majors. Good scores in maths and English are important. If you wish to check how your national examinations translate into AUC’s equivalents, then call Elab and we will provide you with the information you need, relating to your course.All applications for Liberal Arts and Sciences have to be submitted by 1 February. You will live on the premises at AUC throughout your course and should budget:
    • Tuition fees: 4940 euro
    • Accommodation: 570 – 700 euro per month, depending on the type of room you choose
    • Sundry expenses: 5,000 euro – this includes transport, insurance, food, books, leisure activities, bills, mobile phone contract etc.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - Classes at Amsterdam University College

Classes on the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme are small and each student will be assigned a personal tutor and have the opportunity to put together the program they wish to follow – since AUC is flexible and has a multidisciplinary approach to learning.

You will be given the opportunity to acquire both specialist and interdisciplinary knowledge and deal with real-world problems in science and in society.

In your first year you will take ten courses, four or five of which are compulsory: academic writing skills, logic, information flow and argumentation,  a language (French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese), and The Global Identity Experience. Depending on your major, you will then take an introductory theme course: 

  • Introduction to Energy, Climate, Sustainability
  • Introduction to Life, Evolution, Universe
  • Introduction to Health and Well-being
  • Introduction to Information, Communication, Cognition
  • Introduction to Cities and Cultures
  • Introduction to Social Systems.

By the end of the first year, you will choose your major and  academic pathway in science, humanities, or social sciences.

AUC students do not live in the middle of Amsterdam but are housed in the nearby Science Park, a modern campus set up around 1996, with dormitories located next to the academic buildings.

All students can use the facilities of the other two universities in Amsterdam. AUC admits a maximum of 300 students every year, so competition for a place is fierce.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - selective and fixed quota courses

Some courses at the University of Amsterdam are highly selective and expect applicants to go through a series of steps to secure a place. If you wish to study Politics, Psychology, Law, and Economics, for example, the only course of its kind, which has an annual intake of 200 students, you will have to submit your initial forms to Studielink, the central Dutch admissions system, by 1 February.

If you get through to Round 2, you will have to sit a test and submit a study plan and a financial plan. The university will send you a template for the two plans, which must be submitted on the same day as you sit the test.

Round 3 is an interview. 

Applications to PPLE can only be submitted between 1 October and 1 February.

Certain programs have enrolment quotas and if more people apply for the course than the number of places available, a selection process will be unrolled between 1 January and 15 April. For further detailed information on course quotas and the application process, contact Elab.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - deadlines and documents

Selective courses have specific deadlines, see above, but the general deadline is 1 April, if you also wish to apply for housing through the University of Amsterdam and 1 May if you intend to organise your own accommodation.

It is worth bearing in mind that accommodation is not necessarily easy to find in Amsterdam, particularly if you leave it to the last minute, and many first-year undergraduates prefer to get onto the University of Amsterdam housing list as soon as they are offered a place.

Dutch university applications are processed through the central admissions system, Studielink.

Once you have registered, you will receive an email with your University of Amsterdam student number and information on what to do next.

You can apply for four courses at a time – but only two of these can be Numerus Fixus (fixed quota) courses.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - Financial support and general costs at the UvA

EU students will pay the statutory annual tuition fee of  4 700 euros (2023-2024), but the Dutch government is currently offering a 50 percent reduction for first-year undergraduates. 

In terms of living costs, Amsterdam is not the cheapest -nor the most expensive – city in the world.

It has been calculated that you will need between 1000 and 1,700 euros a month for all your expenses, with tuition fees on top.

Transport can cost from 70 to 100 euros a month, and since Amsterdam is a small city, most students buy bicycles.

A good bike will cost you 100-200 euros and a sturdy lock is about 50 euros, so this is an excellent option for economising.

If you do find a job and work 56 hours a month, all through the year, then you will be eligible to apply for Studiefinanciering, a cost of living loan you can repay over 30 years, as well as help with housing and tuition fees. The eligibility criteria depend on the type of aid you wish to apply for, and you be required to provide a range of documentary evidence in order to qualify for financial assitance. Elab will eplain your options and how to go about claiming these benefits.

It has been estimated that 10-15 percent of the University of Amsterdam’s students are awarded financial help from the generous university scholarship fund.

How to get into the University of Amsterdam - living in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city that attracts millions of tourists every year, and we have all seen images of its tree-lined canals, winding ancient streets, and stunning seventeenth-century merchants’ houses. With a population of approximately one million, Amsterdam is small and cosy enough to feel like a large town, and living there makes you part of a close and friendly community.

Bicycling is a way of life in the Netherlands, and it is possible to cross the entire city in a short period of time. Amsterdam’s historic heart and its canals make it a visually entrancing backdrop for the many bistros, bars, restaurants, and cafes where students congregate between lessons and at the end of the day.

Amsterdam is a  multicultural city, so you are as likely to find soul food as couscous and pancakes being sold on street corners. Amsterdam has many open spaces which host regular cultural events, from music and food festivals to craft fairs and farmers’ markets.

Pop-up shops and Fashion Fairs, film festivals, and annual events like The Festival of Light and National Tulip Day all provide interesting leisure events and activities, while quiet cruises down the canals and afternoons picnicking in Westerpark are ideal for days when you just want to sit down peacefully, and admire the natural world.

The opportunity to spend three or more years living in Amsterdam is without a doubt one of the reasons why students decide to apply to the University of Amsterdam. A fascinating city and an excellent university are a marriage made in heaven!

If you would like to apply to study at the University of Amsterdam and need further guidance or information, do not hesitate to contact Elab.

One of our experienced specialist consultants will work together with you, to ensure you choose the best course for your interests, talents, and career plans. Call or email us and let us begin preparing your application to the University of Amsterdam.

  • Introduction
  • Diagnostics
  • Personal Profile Map
  • Research
  • University Report
  • Final application choices
  • Application process plan
  • Mentor Program
  • Exam and Interview prep
  • Document completion
  • Application portal setup
  • Submission
  • Acceptance
  • Pre-departure procedures
  • Finances
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