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How do I apply for a Master’s programme?

On this page, you will find information about the application procedure, the admission requirements and language requirements for prospective Master's students.

More specific information can be found on the programme webpages. Applications for 2022-2023 are possible from the beginning of October.

Application process

Want to learn more about the application process? Then check out our step-by-step application video for international diploma applicants!

Check out the video!

International Degree Holders

  • Application deadlines

    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!

    • 15 December 2021:
      This is the advised programme application deadline for all students wishing to apply for one of the VU Amsterdam scholarships.

    The final application deadline for most scholarships is 1 February, but you can only apply for the VUFP, HSP and OTS scholarships after you have been conditionally admitted to your Master’s programme. 

    In terms of planning, this means that our advised final programme application deadline is 15 December for those students wishing to apply for a VU scholarship. This is because it may take up to around 6 weeks to receive your admission decision once your application is complete. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee you will receive your decision within six weeks, so we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

    If the application procedure for your selected Master’s programme includes an intake/interview, then we advise you to submit your programme application as soon as possible in October/November, so you have plenty of time before the scholarship deadlines.

    * We encourage EU/EAA students to apply before 1 April if they wish to make use of the university housing services.

    **Some programmes have extended the application deadline for EU/EEA students. Please check your programme webpage for more information

  • 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 2022 enrollment from October 2021 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 enrollment 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 enrollment application for the study programme you wish to follow.

    Important when creating an enrollment application:

    • When using login details for creating an enrollment 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 enrollment 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 your personal dashboard).
    • 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 2022.
    • Please be aware that your enrollment must be fully completed on 31 August 2022 in order to start your study programme on 1 September 2022. If your enrollment is not complete on this date, you will have to postpone your study programme until the following academic year.

    Step 2: Complete your application via your personal dashboard on vu.nl

    In order to upload the required documents and complete your application, you will need to log in to your personal dashboard on vu.nl. 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 enrollment application in Studielink you will receive your login details (username and password) for your personal dashboard 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 ucit-servicedesk@vu.nl or +31 (0)20 598 0000.

    Once you have received these login details, log in to your dashboard, 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 enrollment 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.

     Please do not delay paying the fee as this will delay your application.

     Read more about how to pay the application fee.

    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 2021-2022

    The following master's degree programmes offer a second start date on 1 February 2022.

    • Master Chemistry (joint degree)
    • Master Computer Science (joint degree)
    • 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.

  • Required documents

    After you’ve applied for the programme of your choice via Studielink, you will receive your login details for your personal dashboard, where you can upload the required documents. Below you can find a description of the documents that may be asked for

    Please note: if you are applying for a Master's programme at the Faculty of Science, you will need to upload all required documents in one PDF file, using this template.

    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 (please check out the programme webpage to see how many letters are required!)
      Letters written by members of the academic staff at the educational institute where you have studied (or are currently studying). Digital copies, uploaded in your dashboard 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, some require one and some require two –you can check this on the programme’s webpage. When you have to upload two letters, simply upload the second letter over the first one or add one document consisting of both letters.
    • 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. 
    • Diploma(s)*
      A copy of the original Bachelor's degree or certificate.
      Diploma requirements: Upload 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 2022
    • 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.
      Please note: Acceptable minimum scores may vary per faculty/programme.
    • Nuffic Certificate (only for Chinese students)
      Chinese students who wish to enroll 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 2022, for non-EU students, the English test result needs to be supplied before 1 June 2022 (due to it being a requirement for the visa/residence application procedure). Course registrations are not possible until all documents have been provided.

  • 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. 
    • 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 scores will be checked online.

    There is no specific place to upload your English language test online. After finishing uploading the other documents you can send a copy of the test scorecard per email to one of the following contacts:

    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.

    Useful links:

    www.ielts.org
    www.toefl.org
    www.cambridgeenglish.org

  • 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.

    Speaking

    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.

    Listening

    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.

    Reading

    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.

    Writing

    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.

    Vocabulary

    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.

    Grammar

    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.

    Keep practicing

    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.

    References

    • 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 enroll 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 enrollment in time and do not miss out on any of our essential student services.

    Here you can read all information about tuition fees.

    Read more about what happens after admission here.

  • 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 Dutch 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 Admission Board will determine whether your qualification is sufficiently relevant to warrant admission. The Admission Board may, however, impose additional requirements, which must be met before gaining admission to the programme.

  • Application procedure

    Step 1: Apply in Studielink

    You can apply in Studielink. The deadline for application may vary based on if you require a residence permit or not. Most (pre)master programs have an application deadline of May 31, but you must always check the study programme page for specific application deadlines.

    If you require a residence permit, then you need to contact studentimmigration@vu.nl regarding the procedure.

    Step 2: Complete your application in your personal dashboard on vu.nl

    In order to upload the required documents and complete your application, you will need to log in to your personal dashboard. We advise you to do this as soon as possible after applying in Studielink.

    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 hand these in at the Student Desk (Main Building, ground floor). Alternatively you can send them by post to the Student Desk before 31 August:

    Student Administration
    De Boelelaan 1105
    1081 HV Amsterdam
    The Netherlands

    Step 5: Pay the tuition fee

    Please check the information on fees and payments. The fee must be paid before 31 August. Transfer the fee or arrange direct debit authorisation in Studielink. The latter is only possible if you have a bank account from a bank in the SEPA area. Once you have entered your payment details in Studielink, you will receive an e-mail asking you to confirm the payment. This confirmation will authorise the actual payment, so make sure to complete this step.

    Step 6: Check your enrolment

    You will receive a notice from Studielink when your student enrollment is complete. Only after having received this notice, you'll know you have met all requirements to become fully enrolled. Your status in Studielink will change to 'enrolled/registered'. The deadline to become fully enrolled is 31 August. If you are not yet enrolled and do not know why, please contact the Student Desk for advice.

  • Deadlines for application and enrollment

    Most (pre)master programs have an application deadline of May 31, but you must always check the study programme page for specific application deadlines. You will need to apply for the study programme of your choice through Studielink.

    You cannot enrol retroactively. This means that if your enrollment is not completed on 31 August, you cannot be enrolled as of 1 September of the same academic year. So make sure you start and complete your application on time!

  • Accommodation

    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

  • Premaster’s programme

    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 the Dutch premaster page.

    The Admission Board of the faculty 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.

  • Deadlines

    If you have a 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 through 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 studentimmigration@vu.nl 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. You must always check the study programme page for specific application 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.

  • Accommodation

    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.