When you think of the Netherlands, do images of tulips, windmills, and wooden shoes come to mind? Located in Europe’s northwest corner, the Netherlands are so much more than that. This small country boasts a history full of famous thinkers and artists, like Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Rembrandt (you could be the next scholar to add to the list!); not to mention it has one of the best education systems in the world, earning top international rankings every year. It’s no wonder that many students choose to earn a degree in the Netherlands! No matter the subject or field you wish to pursue, you are certain to a top notch degree program in the Netherlands.
The degree you choose to pursue will be your guide to what university or what city will be best for you to study in. No matter where you decide to earn your degree in the Netherlands, remember that it is quite small, so it is easy to travel within its borders, whether by car, bicycle, or train. Be reminded of this because the Netherlands has such a rich history and culture that it can be difficult to choose just one city!
Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, is a unique and picturesque city known for its extensive canal network and plethora of bike riders traveling throughout its streets. Amsterdam has a way of bringing its history alive; it maintains an old European charm in a lively modern city. Students can take a boat ride through the canals or visit the Anne Frank House on their free time. If you are interested in earning a degree in Amsterdam, look into the University of Amsterdam and VU University Amsterdam. Both of these reputable universities welcome droves of international students every year, looking to earn a degree in one of the most intercultural cities in the world.
Rotterdam. Located at the convergence of three rivers and the North Sea, Rotterdam is home to the world’s largest port. Unfortunately, during World War II, most of the city was destroyed, leaving very little of its past behind. Following the war residents scrambled to rebuild, and it is now one of the most modern cities in all of Europe (check out the Cube Houses as an example of stunning modern architecture!). Erasmus University Rotterdam, named after one of the world’s most famous classical scholars, is known for its international research and training. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the university has thousands of international students every year looking to study in one of its bachelor’s or master’s degree programs.
The Hague. Known as the “Royal City by the Sea”, The Hague is an exceptionally sophisticated city, and also home to several governmental bodies, including the Dutch parliament and the Royal family. The Hague is also known globally as the headquarters of the UN’s International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. Don’t let the seriousness of the city residents intimidate you though. The Hague University has a well-known international student services office to ease students’ transition to life in the Netherlands. The university has forty-two bachelor’s degree programs available and many graduate programs as well.
Degree Programs in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is known for its two major types of universities: research and applied sciences. Research universities offer more academically focused degree programs across various subjects. Applied sciences offer more professionally motivated degree programs, designed for those interested in finding a job immediately after graduating. Depending on the course of study and degree program you are interested in, be sure to know the type of university you are entering into.
International students looking to pursue a degree program in the Netherlands have many fields of study to choose from within both master’s and undergraduate degree tracks. As a master’s student, you’ll have many options to choose from and won’t be limited in your choice of degree programs, with opportunities in everything from international business to medicine to finance. While pursuing your undergraduate degree in the Netherlands, you will be offered similarly expansive options for degrees, including philosophy, accounting, and political science, just to name a few. Undergraduate degrees in the Netherlands take three years to complete generally, depending on the field of study.
The Netherlands is very international; therefore, much of its population speaks both Dutch (the national language) and at least two additional foreign languages (usually including English).
Costs & Affordability
Many international students are drawn to earn a degree in the Netherlands for its well renowned universities and affordable tuition. Although this is quite compelling, you need to take into consideration that your education abroad will have added costs (i.e. accommodation, food, and fun!). Depending on where you are from, the cost of living in the Netherlands may be quite attractive or off-putting. The cost of living and studying in the Netherlands also greatly depends on which city you end up choosing and how resourceful you can be!
Tuition fees in the Netherlands are inexpensive, and are therefore an attractive option for international students that are used to being inundated with student loans following graduation. However, the fees may differ based on your home country's European Union affiliation (look for any EU discounts!). Since tuition and fees are fairly low, the cost of living will be one of your greatest expenses while earning a degree in the Netherlands. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost you at least $16, while a pair of jeans may cost you around $90!
Accommodations & Visas
Although most international students will live in shared student housing (four to five students per unit), you’ll also have the option of living off campus. Some universities will even assist international students in finding housing too, as many of them have relationships with landlords and rental companies nearby to their campus. As housing can be quite expensive, finding a roommate may be something you can look into to ease you into life in the Netherlands both socially and financially.
You will need to apply for a student visa prior to beginning your degree program in the Netherlands. In case there are any minor hiccups along the way, be sure to get started on visa processing fairly early to avoid any delays. Most universities that accept international students also have international student services offices to help you through the process and be sure all the necessary paperwork is completed on time. Be sure to check out GoAbroad’s Dutch embassy and consulate directory to see what type of requirements are needed in order to obtain an appropriate student visa based on your country of origin.
Benefits & Challenges
Quality. If you choose to pursue a degree in the Netherlands, you will without a doubt experience world class education. Degree programs in the Netherlands tend to highly-focused on giving students the proper skills and knowledge to pursue a career after graduation (good news for you!).
Diversity. The Netherlands is a multicultural country and a gateway into the European continent; the experience you gain in this diverse setting will carry you throughout the rest of your career.
Expectations. The Netherlands can prove to be challenging for degree-seeking international students as they’ll generally be given more responsibility in their studies than they may be used to. Professors have high expectations and don’t usually provide schedules or syllabi for courses. This more practical, project-based education can be attractive to highly independent students but difficult for ones who prefer a lot of direction.
Make your international dreams come alive! Between bike rides along the canals and weekend jaunts to neighboring countries, earning a degree in the Netherlands is an experience that is not to be missed!