Frequently asked questions from international students

Below you'll find answers to frequently asked questions from international students.


What is the definition of an “international student”
All students who have followed their previous education outside the Netherlands are considered to be international students. This includes Dutch students who have obtained their bachelor’s degree outside the Netherlands. It does not include students with a foreign nationality who did a bachelor’s degree programme in the Netherlands.

Dutch students with a Dutch bachelor click here.

How do I apply for a Master’s programme?
International students should apply for Master’s programmes through the online application system at www.vu.nl/en.

When is the application deadline? 
The application deadline for international students is 1 April. If you are planning to apply for scholarships, make sure to apply before 15 December because of the scholarship deadlines!

What documents should be submitted with my application?

To apply to one of our programmes, you must submit the following documents:

  • A certified copy of your original Bachelor’s degree certificate and a certified transcript of the marks you obtained in your Bachelor’s programme. The certified transcript must be in English or be translated into English by your university or a sworn translator. If you have yet to obtain your degree, you can ask the registrar of your university to provide an official statement to the effect that your are certain to graduate before 1 September. If you have not yet graduated, you should also send us an official transcript listing the marks you have received.
  • Letter of motivation (1 or 2 pages in length) stating your reasons for applying to the programme.
  • A clearly legible copy of the page(s) in your passport (or ID-card if you are an EU student) that contain(s) your personal data. A copy of a passport / ID card that is not longer valid will not be accepted.
  • If you already live in the Netherlands, a copy of your valid residence permit (front and reverse side). If your residence permit is not 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.
  • A curriculum vitae, including your personal details, and listing your previous education and relevant work experience.
  • A Bachelor or Master thesis (in English, German, French or Dutch). Or if you have not finished your thesis yet, a sample of an academic writing (about five pages in length). We will check your sample for plagiarism as one of the first steps of the evaluation procedure.
  • Two letters of recommendation written by members of the academic staff at the educational institute where you studied (or are studying) for you Bachelor’s degree.
  • A description of the courses you have taken during the last two years of your previous higher education, you can either copy this from the study guide or type 5-10 sentences for each course yourself (written in English). Emphasize the ones that you think are relevant for the proposed Master Programme.
  • A list of all the main literature used during the last two years of your previous education.
  • The results of an English language test. VU University Amsterdam requires all applicants to take an English test and to submit their score as a part of the application. Exceptions are made for students who have completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia or who have obtained an international Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma.

How should I send original or certified documents?
These can be uploaded via the online application system at www.vu.nl/en. However, you must also afterwards send us by post: an original certified copy of your Bachelor’s degree certificate, a certified transcript of your grades and your original English language test results.

What are the English language requirements?
English language proficiency is absolutely necessary for all English-taught programmes. The minimum requirements for admission to the Master’s programme in Political Science are:

  • IELTS 7.0
  • TOEFL paper-based test: 600
  • TOEFL computer-based test: 250
  • TOEFL Internet-based test: 100

The minimum requirement for admission to the Master’s programmes in Culture, Organization and Management and Social and Cultural Anthropology are:

  • IELTS 6.5
  • TOEFL paper-based test: 580
  • TOEFL computer-based test: 237
  • TOEFL Internet-based test: 92-93
The test result should not be more than 2 years old.

Is there an application fee?
All non-EU applicants have to pay an application fee of € 100. Only students who apply for an NFP scholarship can be exempted. We check if students meet the NFP criteria before we exempt them from the application fee. The application fee will be refunded to students who are admitted to the programme when they start the programme in September. Student who are admitted but who decide not to participate in the programme will not get a refund of the application fee. EU students are exempted from paying the application fee.

Is it possible to apply when I have not yet obtained my Bachelor’s degree?
You should submit a copy of your most recent transcript of grades and a declaration from your present university that you are expected to graduate before the start of the master programme. Please also submit a list of courses you are still following or going to follow before your graduation. If you are admitted to the master, you will be admitted conditionally, with the condition that you have to submit certified copies of your degree and final transcript of records before the start of the programme. You will only be admitted unconditionally when all conditions have been met.

Is it possible to apply when I have not yet obtained my English language test result?
It is possible to apply if you have not yet passed an English language test. You should indicate in the online system when you are planning to take the test, and send us the test result as soon as you can. If you are admitted to the (pre)master, you will be admitted conditionally, with the condition that you have to submit an English language test result with sufficient result before the start of the programme. You will only be admitted unconditionally when all conditions have been met.

My previous education was in English, can I be exempted from the English language test requirement?
Exceptions are only made for students who have completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia or who have obtained an international Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma.

What criteria does the examination board use to decide on my admissibility to a master?
Once your application file is complete the board of examiners will decide if you will be admitted to the master’s programme. The Examination Board evaluates each application on the basis of individual achievement. To gain admission, you must hold a BA or BSc honours degree or equivalent in the field of the master's programme or in a related discipline. You must have had Social Sciences research methodology.

I have received my admission letter, what happens next?
If you have been admitted (un)conditionally to a Master’s programme, you will receive an offer letter. This offer letter contains information concerning application procedures for accommodation and visa, and how to confirm your participation in the programme. It explains exactly which steps you have to take next. It may take up to three months (if you apply several months before the official deadline) before you receive the offer letter after your acceptance to the programme.

Can I apply for a scholarship?
Students who have been admitted to the Master’s programme may apply for a scholarship. For more information what is available, please visit www.grantfinder.nl. Most scholarships have deadlines in February, so you must make sure to apply for the Master before 15 December. The VU University Amsterdam also has its own scholarship programme for international Master students, called the VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP). More information about the application procedure for the VUFP can be found here. The application deadline is 1 March.

Is it possible to study for a Master course part time?
No. All Master's programmes are full-time only.

Is your question not on this FAQ?
Send an e-mail to admissionsfss@vu.nl. Our Admission Officers will answer your questions.

Dutch students can contact us at studiekeuze.fsw@vu.nl.