Universities in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Picture of a canal waterway lined by tall brick buildings and canal boats

Amsterdam is world famous for its beautiful waterways and cycling friendly culture.

Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city in the Netherlands, with an urban population of 1.5 million residents. Known for its stunning buildings, large-scale canal system, and world-famous cultural landmarks, Amsterdam is also a financial centre for Europe. Home to the world’s oldest stock exchange, Amsterdam is a major employment and operational hub for many of the world’s largest businesses.

In addition, the Netherlands is a largely multicultural country with over 180 nationalities residing in Amsterdam alone. The country is also home to sizable international communities from most parts of the world. For example, it now has the second largest population of Indian-origin immigrants in Europe at over 240,000 residents.

A guaranteed one-year work visa upon graduation provides an additional advantage for international students interested in post-graduation employment in Europe. Ranked as the ninth best city in the world to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) 2022, Amsterdam offers world-class public infrastructure and educational facilities.

Top Universities in Amsterdam

University of Amsterdam (UvA)

Founded nearly 400 years ago in 1632, the University of Amsterdam is home to about 25,000 students of which nearly 7,000 are international students from over 100 countries. UvA offers more than 200 degree programmes taught in English, and is especially well-regarded for the quality of its research & innovation. In fact, the university is one of three Dutch members of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), a group of 23 top-ranked European research universities with a shared commitment to world-class research and innovation.

UvA operates primarily on four urban campuses across Amsterdam, each catering to a separate faculty. The city centre campus offers arts courses, whereas the Roeterseiland Campus caters to social science students. Scientific subjects are taught at the Amsterdam Science Park Campus whereas healthcare courses are offered at the Amsterdam UMC university hospital, operated by UvA in partnership with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. International students at UvA can also take help from the university’s free-of-cost career centre to locate and apply for ideal internships and post-graduation employment all over the world.

Utrecht University

Located 40 minutes away from downtown Amsterdam, Utrecht University was founded in 1636 and is home to more than 33,500 enrolled students. The university offers over 90 postgraduate degree programmes and 12 undergraduate programmes, all of them taught in English. Although the city of Utrecht is much smaller than Amsterdam, it has an impressive history of its own stretching back more than 2,000 years! Utrecht offers plenty of historical attractions, beautiful outdoor spaces and world-class restaurants for the 3,500 international students at Utrecht University to enjoy.

Utrecht is also a fellow member of the League of European Research Universities and operates multiple award-winning research centres such as the Bijvoet Centre for Biomolecular Research and the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science. Utrecht University is primarily centred around three campuses across the city – Utrecht Science Park/De Uithof, University Quarter in central Utrecht and the International Campus Utrecht (ICU).

Leiden University

Situated an hour south of Amsterdam, Leiden University offers 16 bachelor’s degree programmes and 78 postgraduate degree programmes in English. Leiden University hosts nearly 32,000 students of which about 6,500 are international admits. Leiden is a youthful city which developed around the university since its founding in 1575, and it is now a welcoming multi-cultural city with excellent outdoor activities and venues for socialising with your fellow students. Leiden University also operates an additional campus in The Hague, known as the “International City of Peace and Justice.” 

Despite its large enrollment, Leiden University places special focus on individual learning and one-to-one attention for international students from the award-winning faculty. Like Utrecht University and UvA, Leiden University is also a LERU member and conducts advanced research on multiple aspects including life sciences and healthcare. The university also benefits from its close research-based relationship with the Leiden Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s largest science parks and research centres.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a large-scale research university with its primary 100-acre campus located in the city’s Buitenveldert neighbourhood. VU Amsterdam was founded in 1880 and is home to just under 30,000 enrolled students today, with over 5,100 international students from more than 120 nationalities. The university offers as many as 175 degree programmes taught in English, and is well-known for its strengths in life sciences and finance-related research. 

Vrije Universiteit operates multiple world-class research institutes all over the city, such as the Amsterdam Institute of Molecules, Medicines and Systems. VU Amsterdam also jointly operates the Amsterdam UMC university hospital where medical students can gain valuable vocational experience. The university’s location near Amsterdam’s business district allows international students to connect with businesses, work part-time with world-leading employers and identify ideal post-graduation career opportunities.

Amsterdam Universities World Ranking 2022

Below are the top-ranked Amsterdam universities for international students, with their ranks in two of the world’s most well-respected international university rankings, the QS 2022 University World rankings and the Times Higher Education 2022 Rankings.

For more information about rankings systems and methodologies see our University rankings explained guide.

UniversityQS World Ranking 2022Times Higher Education Ranking 2022QS Rank in the NetherlandsTHE Rank in the Netherlands
University of Amsterdam (UvA)556512
Utrecht University1106933
Leiden University=1127144
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam=209115108

List of other top-ranked Colleges & Universities in Amsterdam

Alongside the four top-ranked universities in and around Amsterdam, the city has a lot more to offer in terms of high-quality institutes specialising in disciplines such as the Fine Arts, Business and Architecture. Below are a few more of Amsterdam’s top-ranked institutes for international students:

Since many Amsterdam institutes offer a majority of courses in Dutch, it is recommended that you conduct further research to identify relevant courses taught in English at these institutes.

Tuition and Living Costs in Amsterdam

International students from the EU/EEA, Suriname or Switzerland can take advantage of highly affordable tuition fees amounting to between 750 and 2,200 US Dollars per annum at Dutch public universities. Depending on the degree programme and course selection, international students from all other countries pursuing undergraduate degrees can expect to pay between 6,000 and 15,000 US Dollars per annum. Master’s degree programmes cost between 8,000 and 20,000 US Dollars per year.

As for living costs, the University of Amsterdam estimates that international students should keep a budget of 950-1,050 US Dollars per month in mind. This budget includes 450-550 US Dollars for shared accommodation, 400 US Dollars for food expenses, 60-80 US Dollars for public transport and another 80-100 US Dollars for utilities and miscellaneous expenses.

Life in Amsterdam for International Students

The centuries-old canal network across central Amsterdam, known as “grachten”, provides a unique way to explore the city. With nearly 5.4 million international tourists visiting every year, the city is full of exciting events and venues to entertain you away from the classroom.

Amsterdam is home to a wide range of museums, music festivals, performing arts centres and nightlife venues. Additionally, the historical heritage of the city and its industries such as shipping will be fascinating to students of social science and related disciplines. Below are a few such can’t-miss attractions for international students in the city:

  • Rijksmuseum
  • Van Gogh Museum
  • Anne Frank House
  • Vondelpark
  • Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
  • ARTIS Zoo
  • NEMO Science Museum
  • Rembrandt House Museum
  • Royal Palace Amsterdam
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Eye Film Museum
  • The Oude Church
  • Moco Museum
  • Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam Museum

Amsterdam’s Schiphol is Europe’s third-busiest airport and receives regular flights from all over the world. Major European cities such as Brussels and Paris are only a few hours away from Amsterdam if you use the city’s excellent train network. You can make convenient and affordable trips to many such tourist-favourite destinations during your academic breaks, alongside socialising with your fellow university students and enjoying the sights and sounds of Amsterdam.

With world-class public safety and facilities, and a vast network of top-ranked institutes providing a strong shared educational infrastructure, it is no wonder why Amsterdam is a preferred destination for so many international students. International students arriving in Amsterdam should connect with institutes such as the ​​Erasmus Student Network Amsterdam, a student-run organisation that will provide you with key resources and contacts during your time in the Netherlands.

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