More specific information can be found on the programme webpages.
Application procedure, admission and language requirements
International Degree Holders
The following deadlines apply if you are applying to a Master’s programme on the basis of a non-Dutch university degree.
Applications received after the deadlines cannot be taken into consideration!
- 1 February 2021:
All international students applying for one of the VU Amsterdam scholarships.
- 1 April 2021:
Non-EU/ non-EAA students who need visa/residence permit.
- 1 June 2021:
* We encourage EU/EAA students to apply before 1 April if they wish to make use of the university housing services.
- 1 February 2021:
Application procedure for international degree holders
The following procedure applies if you are applying on the basis of a non-Dutch university degree. You can start your application for a September 2021 enrolment from October 2020 onwards.
Take a look at the step-by-step application video to find out how you can apply for our English-taught programmes with an international diploma and read the information below.
Step 1: Create an enrolment application in Studielink (the Dutch national education application system)
Please note: Only if you already live in the Netherlands, you will need a DigiD. If you do not live in the Netherlands, please apply without a DigiD. If you live in The Netherlands you can apply for a DigiD. DigiD applications take up to two weeks: apply for DigiD.
Log in to Studielink and create a new enrolment application for the study programme you wish to follow.
Important when creating an enrolment application:
- When using login details for creating an enrolment application in Studielink, please select Create Studielink account without DigiD .
- Make sure that the e-mail address you fill in in Studielink (My details) is correct: you will receive important notices concerning your enrolment via this address.
- Please enter your prior education (on the basis of which your application will be assessed) correctly.
- Select the study programme of choice with (WO Master) at the end from the list in Studielink (note: specialisations can be selected in VUnet).
- Enter your payment details so that the correct tuition fee can be calculated. This does not generate an automatic payment. The deadline for payment is 31 August 2021.
- Please be aware that your enrolment must be fully completed on 31 August 2021 in order to start your study programme on 1 September 2021. If your enrolment is not complete on this date, you will have to postpone your study programme until the following academic year.
Step 2: Complete your application in VUnet
In order to upload the required documents and complete your application, you will need to log in to VUnet, the university's student portal. We advise you to do this as soon as possible after applying in Studielink.
Please note: you do not need to send original documents when applying, but you will need to send a certified paper copy of your diploma if you are admitted by which time you will be informed about the requirements in more detail.
After you complete your enrolment application in Studielink you will receive a VUnet-ID (username and password) in two separate e-mails sent to the address you entered in Studielink. This may take up to two working days.
If you have not received your login details, please first check your spam. If you are still unable to locate them, then contact the UCIT service desk on email@example.com or +31 (0)20 598 0000.
Once you have received these login details, log in to VUnet, answer the questions asked and upload documents as requested.
Step 3: Pay the application fee
All students with an international degree are required to pay a non-refundable, €100 application fee.
After we have received the application fee, we will start processing your application.
Once you have completed your enrolment application in Studielink, you will receive an e-mail (sent to the address you supplied in Studielink) with information on how you can pay the fee. The easiest way to pay is via the online payment tool in VUnet.
Please do not delay paying the fee as this will delay your application.
Step 4: Wait for decision on application
Your application will be complete and taken into consideration once you have uploaded all the required documents and paid the application fee. You will receive a confirmation of this via email. Your International Student Advisor will then prepare your file for the Admission Board, with the request to establish your eligibility for admission. We aim to inform you about the admission decision within 4 weeks. If any further information is needed to determine your eligibility, your International Student Advisor will let you know.
For all questions about the evaluation of your application, please contact your International Student Advisor, whose contact details can be found on the contact page your chosen study programme.
If you have been (conditionally) admitted, congratulations! A number of additional steps must now be taken. You can read what you can expect after you've been admitted on our ‘What happens after admission’ page.
Alternative starting dates
Academic year 2020-2021
The following master's degree programmes offer a second start date on 1 February 2021.
- Master Chemistry (joint degree)
- Master Computer Science (joint degree)
- Master Drug Discovery and Safety
- Teacher-training programmes (taught in Dutch)
- Master Mathematics
- Master Law (International Technology Law, International Migration and Refugee Law, and European and International Law)
- Master Dentistry (taught in Dutch)
Please note: Always consult the contact persons noted in the contact page of the programme you're interested in, to find out about the programme and the possibilities of a February starting date.
After you’ve applied for the programme of your choice via Studielink, you will receive your login details for VUnet, where you can upload the required documents. Below you can find a description of the documents that may be asked for.
Every study programme may have a different set of required documents that you need to upload. For the Master of Law, for example, only a CV, your transcripts and a copy of your passport are needed. You may thus not need to upload all of the documents listed here below. For this reason, you will need to check the programme page to find out which documents you need to prepare.
- Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID = only for EU residents)
A clear scan of the pages in your passport that contain your personal data. It needs to be valid up to at least 1 September of the year in which you’re planning to start your programme (or 1 February if your programme offers this starting date). A copy of a passport (or ID) that is no longer valid cannot be accepted.
- Curriculum Vitae
A curriculum vitae that includes your personal details and lists your previous education and relevant work experience. A Europass CV template could be used, however other formats will be accepted too.
- 1 or 2 Letters of recommendation
Letters written by members of the academic staff at the educational institute where you studied (or are currently studying). Digital copies, uploaded in VUnet are preferred. If referees prefer providing their references directly to the university, please let them email your your contact person in the international office. Please ask your referees to include your VU student number in the email. Some programmes do not require recommendation letter –you can check this on the programme’s webpage.
- Statement of Intent (Letter of Motivation)
A 1-2 page letter stating your reasons for applying to the programme. Also, if applicable, please specify in this letter, the name of the specialization you are applying for.
A copy of the original Bachelor's degree or certificate.
Diploma requirements: Upload in VUnet a scan of your diploma with an English, German or French translation by your university or a sworn translator.
Please note: Before we can unconditionally accept you, we will need you to supply us with a certified copy of your diploma certificate. See for further details the section on 'what happens after admission'. Deadline for supplying: 31 August 2021.
- Transcript of records
A transcript in English* of the grades obtained during your previous higher education (Bachelor’s or Master’s programme). In case you went on exchange during your programme (and the courses and grades are not mentioned on your main transcript), then please add the transcript from your exchange university as well.
If you did not graduate yet, please send us an official transcript listing the grades you obtained so far. In case you will still complete relevant courses before your graduation, then please make sure to include these courses in your course description document (see below).
*For the initial application, this does not need to be done by a sworn translator although it is preferred.
- Thesis (or alternative piece of academic writing)
Please upload your thesis or an alternative writing sample such as an academic paper or essay (written in English).If you have not written anything in English during your studies, then please select one of your own academic writing samples and add a 2-5 page summary in English before the text in the original language. Always include your literature references. Please be aware that for some programmes you need to upload a specific essay as mentioned on that programme's webpage (for example the MSc International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology or the LLM Law and Politics of International Security)
Please note, we will always check application documents for plagiarism.
- A description of the relevant courses followed and literature used during your previous higher education
Please describe the courses you have taken during your previous higher education that are relevant to the Master’s programme you are applying for (the admission requirements can be found on the specific programme pages). You can either copy this from a study guide or type a 5-10 line description for each relevant course if a study guide is not readily available. Don’t forget to mention the main literature used for the courses you took and the number of credits/class hours.
Please use this format.
- English language test (can also be provided after conditional admission)*
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam requires all applicants who have not completed their education in USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia or Canada (English-speaking provinces) to provide us with an English language test score that meets the required minimum set for the programme of choice. If you cannot yet provide us with a positive score yet, please register for a recognized English language test. All faculties will accept IELTS tests, Cambridge tests, and TOEFL tests. We are now also accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. The test is available everywhere that TOEFL iBT testing is normally available, with the exception of Mainland China and Iran. Our institution's code is 7947.
Please note: Acceptable minimum scores may vary per faculty/programme.
- Nuffic Certificate (only for Chinese students)
Chinese students who wish to enrol in an English-taught programme at a Dutch higher education institution are required to apply for a Nuffic Certificate (former Neso Certificate). Nuffic will send the certificate directly to us, once it has been issued.
- Valid residence permit
If you already live in the Netherlands, a copy (front and reverse side) of your valid residence permit (if available). If your residence permit is no longer valid, please submit a copy of the expired card and an official statement from the immigration authorities (IND) acknowledging that you have applied for an extension.
* Although complete applications are preferred, both the certified copy of the diploma certificate and the English test result, can be supplied to us after you've submitted the rest of your application. For EU students, the latest deadline for supplying us with these documents is set to the 31 August 2021, for non-EU students, the English test result needs to be supplied before 1 June 2021 (due to it being a requirement for the visa/residence application procedure). Course registrations are not possible until all documents have been provided.
- Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID = only for EU residents)
Language Proficiency Requirements
VU Amsterdam asks you to take an English test and to submit your score as a part of the application. You can begin your application, however, before you have completed the test and then submit your passing score once you have been conditionally admitted. Exceptions to the English Language Proficiency requirement are made if you have completed your education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia.
In general, the minimum English language proficiency requirements for admission to most (not all) Master's programme at VU Amsterdam are:
- IELTS: 6.5 - please note that candidates must take the Academic test and not the General one! Most programmes do not accept partial scores dropping below 6.0.
- TOEFL Internet-based test: 92. We are now also accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. The test is available everywhere that TOEFL iBT testing is normally available, with the exception of Mainland China and Iran. Our institution's code is 7947.
- Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): A, B, C
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): A, B, C
VU-test English-language proficiency: TOEFL ITP: 580. This test is offered by the VU Taalloket and takes place at the University. The test costs EUR 90 and is only valid for admission to VU Amsterdam. The TOEFL ITP is not accepted for students who require a study visa/residence permit to study at VU Amsterdam.
Please note: Some programmes have higher language proficiency requirements. Please see the webpage of your programme for exact language proficiency requirements.
TOEFL and IELTS tests must have been completed no more than two years before 1 September of the year in which your course starts. Note that MyBestScore is not accepted. Our institution's code is 7947.
Please email your test results to your International Student Advisor. The scored will be checked online.
There is no specific place to upload your English language test in VUnet. After finishing uploading the other documents in the VUnet you can send a copy of the test scorecard per email to one of the following contacts:
- For students with a non-Dutch degree: Your International Student Advisor
- For students with a Dutch degree: Please refer to your programme’s Admissions Website
VU Amsterdam reserves the right to request an original copy of the test result.
Students living in the Netherlands can register for a TOEFL-ITP exam offered by the VU Taalloket. You can find more information and register for this test at www.taalloket.nl. We do not accept the TOEFL ITP Digital test.
How to prepare for an English-taught programme
When studying at VU Amsterdam, your degree will be fully taught in English. Your command of the English language will therefore be essential for a successful academic – and social! – experience at our university. This is why it is imperative to improve your English skills before you arrive, so you can do well right from the get-go.
Of course, all students are required to hand in a sufficient English language test (except for students with a degree from certain countries). You may be asking yourself: why would I still need to improve my English ability if I have already met the minimum test requirements? The answer is simple: because you’ll be more likely to perform better in your degree. The minimum requirements are sufficient to be able to complete the degree, but studies have shown that a level of English higher than the minimum requirement correlates with higher grades (see for example Kirby, 2018; Trenkic & Warmington, 2019).
In this text, we will give you some advice on how to improve your English language ability. We will cover the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) as well as grammar and vocabulary.
When speaking, your pronunciation is important. There is no need to sound like Queen Elizabeth II, as the important thing is intelligibility. This means that others should be able to understand what you are saying and what message you wish to convey. Intelligibility is the focus of the VU Amsterdam MOOC ‘English pronunciation’. This free, online course also emphasises that all accents are equal, and that there is no shame in having a non-native accent. Furthermore, being more conscious of different ways to pronounce English may help you understand others better.
When we hear someone else talk, we hear spaces between words. However, the so-called ‘speech signal’ is continuous. This means that speech is continuous and that the spaces we hear between words are not actually there. Rather, they are a product of our brain that occurs when it distinguishes individual words within that continuous stream of sounds. When learning a second language, this means that all these sounds will be gibberish – unless you know the words already, so your brain can actually distinguish them. So to improve your listening skills, it Is fundamental to increase your vocabulary.
The above is why reading is a better way to learn new words than listening (e.g., by watching movies or TV), because when reading, the spaces between words are already there. Once you encounter a new word, you know exactly how to write the word and that makes it easy to look it up in a dictionary. You also have time to think and derive the word’s meaning from the context. Using English subtitles when listening could offset this, provided you are willing to pause whatever you are watching every single time a word you do not know pops up.
As a student of VU Amsterdam, you will be doing a lot of writing. Grammatically correct sentences and a broad vocabulary are fundamental to every good text. Writing texts is a good way to practice using English, as you have plenty of time to think about what you want to say and how you want to convey it. When practicing you will often write informal texts, but please be aware that academic texts have certain conventions. When you write a text during your degree, it is important to check the specific textual requirements set by the professor or programme coordinator. Students may also benefit from taking a course on how to write academic texts, for example VU Amsterdam’s own Jumpstart programme or our Academic Language Programme.
Having a large vocabulary is imperative to using English at a high level (e.g., Sen & Kuleli, 2015; Binder et al., 2017; Miralpeix & Muñoz, 2018). The two most effective strategies are spaced repetition and retrieval practice. Spaced repetition means that you should repeat new vocabulary frequently and with time between each practice session, as opposed to massing all learning into one large session and then not looking at the material again. Retrieval practice means that you need to test yourself, so your memory is trained in retrieving this specific information (Ullman & Lovelett, 2018). Both repetition and retrieval fortify the links in your brain between the new memories, as new words are just that: new memories (Van den Broek, 2017).
In order to link these new words with more existing knowledge, thus making them more accessible in your brain, it is good to use these words in context. For example, you can try to make sentences using a new word, or think of synonyms or antonyms. A very useful list to start with is the Academic Word List. This is a list of 570 words that are frequently used in academic contexts. Masrai & Milton (2018: 44) write that ‘[k]nowledge of the AWL also adds marginally to the power of overall vocabulary size in explaining variance in grade point average (GPA) scores’. In other words, a large vocabulary, including the words from the AWL, is likely to have a positive effect on your grades.
Depending on your native language, some parts of English grammar may be easier or more difficult for you. Many grammatical errors arise when you subconsciously transfer a grammatical element from your native language to English. This is called language transfer. It occurs when you are either not aware of the correct grammatical rule in English, or when you simply have not practiced it sufficiently. Learners who share the same native language, tend to make the same mistakes. A quick way to find out which errors are often made by speakers of your native language, can be an online search like ‘common English grammatical mistakes by [your native language] speakers’. Then, you need to practice using the new rules by employing the same strategies as for vocabulary, being spaced repetition and retrieval practice.
Finally, when it comes to language learning, it boils down to practice, practice, practice. This is the same for any skill you want to acquire, improve or maintain. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to stay motivated. This is why it is good to find materials that are intrinsically motivating to you. For example, if you like history, pick up a book about history written in English. This way, even if you do not feel like practicing English, you may feel like reading the book, simply because it is the content itself that appeals to you.
- Binder, K. S.; Gilbert Cote, N.; Lee, C.; Bessette, E.; Vu, H. (2017), Beyond breadth: The contributions of vocabulary depth to reading comprehension among skilled readers. J Res Read, 40(3), 333-343.
- Kirby, E. (2018), International entry qualifications 2018: summary report. Cheltenham: UK NARIC.
- Masrai, A. & Milton, J. (2018), Measuring the contribution of academic and general vocabulary knowledge to learners’ academic achievement. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 31, 44-57.
- Miralpeix, I. & Muñoz, C. (2018), Receptive vocabulary size and its relationship to EFL language skills. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 56(1), 1-24.
- Şen, Y. & Kuleli, M. (2015), The effect of vocabulary size and vocabulary depth on reading in EFL context. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 199, 555-562.
- Trenkic, D. & W. M. (2019), Language and literacy skills of home and international university students: How different are they, and does it matter? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 22(2), 349–365.
- Ullman, M. T. & Lovelett, J. T. (2018), Implications of the declarative/procedural model for
- improving second language learning: The role of memory enhancement techniques. Second Language Research, 31(1), 39-65.
- Van den Broek, G. (2017), Benefits of memory retrieval for vocabulary learning. A neurocognitive perspective. Dissertation, Radboud Universiteit.
Nuffic Certificate for Chinese students
If you are a Chinese student wishing to enrol in an English-taught programme at a Dutch higher education institution, then you are required to apply for a Nuffic Certificate (former Neso Certificate). Nuffic sends this certificate directly to the relevant Dutch higher education institution once it has been issued.
What happens after admission
Once you have been admitted to VU Amsterdam, there are steps that you need to take to make sure you complete your enrolment in time and do not miss out on any of our essential student services.
Contact, Campus Tour, Student Ambassadors and Student Experiences
Visit the Campus
The University Campus is the lively hub of the university and you are welcome to pay a virtual visit to get to know the university.
Visit the online campus tour and explore the campus, university buildings and more!
Contact our Student Ambassadors
Do you have a question for a current student? Curious about everyday life in Amsterdam, from our campus to the food, music and events going on throughout the city? Want to know how much homework you will have each night, or how the Dutch educational system differs from your own? Ask one of our VU Ambassadors! They would love to answer your questions by sharing their personal experiences of living and studying at VU Amsterdam. Check the Ambassador's page to find an ambassador from the programme you’re interested in or from your home country.
Contact your International Student Advisor
For specific questions related to VU programmes, deadlines, the application process, or diploma validity you can find information on our main website or contact your faculty's International Student Advisor (ISA).
Read the Student Blog
On www.amsterdamstudents.com you can read blog updates from our (international) students.
Dutch University Degree Holders
Degree from another University
If you hold a Bachelor’s degree obtained at an institution in the Netherlands, then you may be admitted to a Master’s programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The examination board will determine whether your qualification is sufficiently relevant to warrant admission. The examination board may, however, impose additional requirements, which must be met before gaining admission to the programme.
Step 1: Apply in Studielink
You can apply in Studielink. The deadline for application is 31 May if you require a residence permit. If you require a residence permit, then you also need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org regarding the procedure for changing your residence permit.
If you don't require a residence permit, a different deadline may apply. Please see the web page of the Master's degree programme of your choice for the deadlines.
Step 2: Complete your application in VUnet
Step 3: Wait for decision on application
Once your file is complete it will be handed over to the faculty. The faculty may contact you about any additional requirements. The Admission Board of the faculty will make a decision within six weeks.
Step 4: Hand in all required documents
If we need certified copies of documents (such as a diploma or an English proficiency test result), please bring or send these by post to the Student Desk before 31 August:
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Step 5: Pay the tuition fee
Please check the information on fees and payments. Transfer the fee or arrange direct debit authorization in Studielink. The latter is only possible if you have a bank account from a bank in the SEPA area. The fee must be paid before 31 August. Once you have entered your payment details in Studielink, it may take up to 24 hours before the correct tuition fee amount is calculated. Once this is done, you will receive an e-mail asking you to confirm payment. This confirmation will authorize the actual payment which should be made on or before 31 August. Please contact the Student Desk if you require assistance.
Step 6: Check your enrolment
You will receive a notice from Studielink when your student enrolment is complete. Only after having received this notice, you'll know you've met all requirements for a full student enrolment. Your status in Studielink will change to 'enrolled'. The deadline for a full enrolment is the 31st of August. If you are not yet enrolled and do not know why, please contact the Student Desk for advice.
Within one month of the enrolment being completed you will receive:
- A declaration of enrolment
- A student card (if you have uploaded a correct photo on VUnet)
Being in the possession of these two documents is not required in order to follow classes. However, having a valid enrolment is required. To confirm your ID at an exam you can either use your student card or your ID/passport in combination with a paper version of the Declaration of Enrolment(available from the Student Desk once your status is enrolled).
Deadlines for application and enrolment
You cannot enrol retroactively. This means that if your enrolment is not completed on 31 August, you cannot be enrolled as of 1 September of the same academic year. So please make sure you start and complete your application on time! When you are fully enrolled your status in Studielink will be 'enrolled' and you will receive a confirmation email.
You can find the application deadline on the page of the programme of your choice.
VU Amsterdam is not able to provide accommodation to foreign students who apply while already in the possession of a Dutch degree. You will, therefore, need to arrange your own accommodation.
Dutch HBO Degree Holders
If you hold a Bachelor’s degree obtained from a university of applied sciences (HBO diploma) in the Netherlands, then you may be admitted to a Master’s programme at VU Amsterdam. In most cases, you will have to follow a preparatory Premaster’s programme first. This usually takes one year.
Premaster’s programmes are mainly taught in Dutch. For more information: Go to Dutch premaster pages.
The examination board will determine whether your qualification is sufficiently relevant to warrant admission. The board may place additional requirements on you before granting admission to the programme.
If you have non-Dutch nationality and a Dutch degree then you can apply up until 31 May if you require a residence permit. Because of the procedure for changing the residence permit (if applicable), applications received later than 31 May cannot be processed.
You need to apply via Studielink and contact the coordinator of the Master’s programme before 31 May. Coordinators and procedures can be found on the website of the relevant Master’s programme. You must also contact email@example.com for the procedure to change your residence permit if you are a non-EU/EEA student.
If you don't require a residence permit, a different deadline may apply. Please see the web page of the Master's degree programme of your choice for the deadlines.
Premasters School of Business and Economics (SBE)
The School of Business and Economics offers premaster's programmes with a start date of 1 February. The deadline for application for these programmes is 31 January. Your diploma must state an examination date before 1 February.
Premaster Faculty of Law
Application for the transfer programme of Law (Schakelzone Recht) is possible all year round.
VU Amsterdam is not able to provide accommodation to foreign students who apply on the basis of a Dutch degree. Therefore, you will need to arrange your own accommodation.