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Why choose VU Amsterdam

To know who you are, you need to know where you come from. And Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a long history that goes back almost two centuries.

The university is an incubator for knowledge—knowledge that we obtain in all kinds of ways. Whereas we all used to dive into the filing cabinet or card catalogue, we now sit en masse behind our screens. The university changes over time. And together we are making VU Amsterdam the university of the future: a university where everyone is welcome, where we embrace knowledge from all over the world and where we reflect on our role in society. And together we are making VU Amsterdam the university of the future: a university where everyone is welcome, where we embrace knowledge from all over the world and where we reflect on our role in society. Visit the campus from the comfort of your home in our virtual reality campus tour.  

Our history

VU Amsterdam was founded in 1880 under the leadership of theologian, journalist and politician Abraham Kuyper. He received financial assistance through private donations from, among others, beer brewer Willem Hovy. The university started with three faculties—Theology, Law and Arts—and five students. Almost a century and a half later, we now have more than 200 programmes and 26,000 students, with 122 different nationalities on one campus where scholars and scientists work together every day on social research. 

A free university for all

It is in our very name (vrije): freedom is the foundation of our university. Here, you are free to be who you are, free to develop on a personal and intellectual level, and free to go off the beaten track.

But freedom always entails a certain responsibility. Freedom is not self-evident for everyone. As a student, we not only make you aware of this during your studies, but we ensure that you also incorporate these values for life after you graduate. We focus on interdisciplinary work, meaning that you also learn to look beyond your own field of expertise. For example, we have the A Broader Mind project, in which students from all study programmes come together to look at themselves and the world around them with a broader perspective. We also have many more projects, each of which ensures that you as a student develop in all areas and that you become acquainted with worlds outside of your familiar bubble. That, too, is freedom.

This is how we contribute to an open and diverse society together.

Unique identity

VU Amsterdam was the first university in the Netherlands established in 1880 by Abraham Kuyper, with no interference from the church or the state. This heritage is still very much part of who we are. VU Amsterdam is a leading European research university with over 26,000 students and 3,000 academic staff.

Nine faculties share a single campus and cover a wide spectrum of arts, sciences and medicine. With more than 50 Bachelor’s degree programmes (of which 25 completely English-taught) and around 175 Master’s degree programmes (around 150 English-taught), VU Amsterdam offers a wide choice of study options. From the very beginning, the university has determined its own areas of research, created its own study programmes and practised its own didactic methods. The teaching style can be described as student-centred: we stimulate students to develop their own opinion through independent and creative thinking.

Types of programmes

VU Amsterdam offers four types of programmes:

Quality of education

VU Amsterdam has a sterling reputation the fine quality of its teaching. You work in relatively small groups, in which considerable emphasis is placed on interaction and a personal approach. The teaching is well organized. This is reflected, for instance, in the clear structure of the study programmes.

VU Amsterdam 

Reasons to study at VU Amsterdam

  • Personal supervision

    VU Amsterdam devotes considerable attention to personal study advice during your studies. Right at the start of your course of study, you will be introduced to your programme’s study advisor. This person will offer you advice about any problems that you might have with your course of study, and answer questions about the job market. 

  • Unique identity

    VU Amsterdam was the first university in the Netherlands established by a private person, with no interference from the church or the state. This heritage is still very much part of who we are: VU stands for Vrije Universiteit, which translates literally as 'Free University.' From the very beginning, the university has determined its own areas of research, created its own study programmes and practised its own didactic methods.

  • Easily accessible

    VU Amsterdam is readily accessible by public transport. Schiphol airport is a major European hub, and several important European capital cities are within a few hours train journey of Amsterdam. Amsterdam Zuid Station is within walking distance of VU Amsterdam. There is also a rapid metro connection to Amsterdam Central Station or Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station. VU Amsterdam is also easy to reach by car, being situated close to Amsterdam’s orbital motorway.

    Our history as a small trading nation means that connections with neighbouring countries and the wider world are very strong; this is reflected in the culture of business and education, in which an outward-looking, open approach is greatly valued.

  • University campus

    Almost all of our students, staff and programmes are located on campus: a single building complex in the business district of Amsterdam. Accordingly, in the course of your studies, it is very easy to familiarize yourself with other disciplines.

  • Amsterdam

    There are many reasons to study in Amsterdam. Despite its small size, the Netherlands has had a disproportionate impact on world affairs, from innovation to sport and environmental management. Combine this with a high quality of life, good transport links and access to world-class education, and it will become clear why students from all corners of the world have chosen to study here.

  • Accreditation

    VU Amsterdam is fully recognized by the Dutch Ministry of Education as a research university. All Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes at VU Amsterdam are either accredited by or in the process of being accredited by NVAO, the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders. This body was established by international treaty and guarantees the quality of higher education in the Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium through the accreditation of study programmes.

  • International environment

    About 10% of the student population is made up of international students. Our International Office offers excellent services and assists you with housing, visa, residence permits (if applicable) and the administrative side of studying in the Netherlands.

  • Study abroad

    During your studies at the VU, you have the opportunity to go study abroad. As an exchange student, you will study at a VU partner university for a semester. It's a unique academic challenge during which you will live and study in an international environment. A guaranteed boost for your career and personal development. All in all, an unforgettable experience during your studies.

    VU students on exchange

  • Innovative and creative

    The Netherlands is a land of innovators, from scientists to engineers, artists and entrepreneurs. This is due in no small part to the education system, which places a high value on original solutions and the active involvement of students.

    Renowned masters such as Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt van Rijn have been followed by more recent figures such as the architect Rem Koolhaas and the designers Victor & Rolf, while a booming film and television industry cements the reputation of the Netherlands as a land of creativity.

  • Multicultural

    The Netherlands has long been a destination for immigration; this has led to a multicultural society in which difference is celebrated and people are open-minded and tolerant. In addition, the Dutch are masters of foreign languages – in addition to their own language, most people speak fluent English and often another language such as German or French.

  • Quality of life

    The quality of life in the Netherlands is among the highest in the world. A high level of social coherence, extensive investment in public facilities (including public transport), excellent healthcare facilities and a surprising amount of green space for such a densely populated country mean that the Dutch are amongst the most content people in the world.