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How To Get a Scholarship In The Netherlands?

by Micaela Zaslabsky

Dutch universities are overflowing with students from all over the world: international students who are looking to study in the Netherlands will find a broad number or both Bachelor and Master programmes in English. Studying in the Netherlands is not free neither as cheap as studying in some other countries, but there are several scholarships that will help you pay for most of the expenses.

In order to get a Dutch scholarship, once you have applied for a full-time programme, you can apply for the scholarships offered by the University or those of the Dutch Government. What you have to consider in order to get it is: Dates, Nationality, Grades, Availability, Financial status and Field.

Scholarship by Nick Youngson

Any student interested in getting a scholarship must have several pre-requirements to ensure that he can at least apply to those. Most of these scholarships are for a very little number of students, so standing out is a must. In this article, you will have some of the most common requirements that Dutch universities and the Dutch Government ask applicants to have.

Requirements to Get a Scholarship in The Netherlands

There are a few aspects that most scholarships coincide on and ask the postulants to fulfil in order to be awarded one of the top ten scholarships in the Netherlands. Among them the most common ones are:

  • University and programme requirements
  • Nationality
  • Grades
  • Availability and Deadlines
  • Financial matters
  • Field of study

It is important to consider that one of the main requirements is to apply for a full-time programme and this has to be of a maximum of 4 academic years. For most scholarships, you will ONLY be entitled to be awarded one of those years, and it tends to be your first university year. Therefore, you should consider what to do in case you want to continue your studies afterward, even if during your freshman year is covered by the scholarship.

University and Programme Requirements

Before even start thinking about getting a scholarship you should go through the step of selecting and applying to a university. In the Netherlands, there are two types of universities: Reseach Universities (13 of them) and many other Universities of Applied Sciences (over 30 Hogeschools who offer English taught programmes).

Most scholarship programmes are for Research University programmes. Between all the Dutch Universities, they offer about 110 Bachelor’s degrees in English. The most popular ones are the Universiteit van Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Leiden University, but all of them have amazing programmes and offer scholarships.

First of all, you want to check all the requirements and the deadline to apply. Each programme has a number of requirements and documents that you will have to upload through Studielink, a site belonging to DUO, the Dutch Government, where you will have to do all your applications, for one or more programmes or institutions.
It is important to pay really good attention to deadlines since time is an important matter both for the MA and BA programmes as well as the scholarships.

Once you are enrolled to your programme it is time to do good research and see what type of scholarships are offered by each university with private funds by the University itself, and which ones are general scholarships to study in this country.

Most pre-requirements tend to be:

  • Specific secondary school diploma that is equivalent to the Dutch diploma required (or BA diploma in case of MA programmes) but NOT a Dutch diploma (in most cases).
  • Language requirements (specific to the programme in case of Language Programmes) and in any case English Proficiency proves, either IELTS ( mostly 6.0 on average), TOEFL (minimum 83 or higher) or Cambridge Certificate (C1 or C2).
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from professors or academics whose input is relevant to your field of study (and something I recommend you to plan ahead not to rush them to do you a favour)
  • Letter of motivation, which can be the real dealbreaker. If you happen to be asked to write a letter of motivation, you are given the chance to explain yourself and add any relevant information that may either justify why you don’t meet one or two of the requirements but how that is not important considering how much you can contribute to the programme and to the field.


Photo by Agus Dietrich on Unsplash

Nationality is a very important factor. Most scholarships require applicants to be in possession of an EEA or non-European passport. Last week I made a post talking about the best general scholarships in the Netherlands and this was the case for most of the awards.

  • In the case of the Orange Tulip Scholarship Programme, the requirement was to belong to one of the Nesos countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Vietnam.
  • Sino-Dutch Scholarship is restricted to Chinese nationals.
  • StuNed Scholarship to the ex-Dutch colony of Indonesia.
  • MENA Scholarship Programme MSP, for instance, is offered to passport holders from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia.
  • Holland Scholarship is oriented to students from any country from outside the European Economic Area.
  • NN Future Matters Scholarship is one of the exceptions to the rule, being a scholarship for a lot of European countries: Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Bulgary, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.


It is commonly known that in order to get an award you need outstanding grades. This is not only important in order to get a scholarship but also to be accepted on your programme of choice.

Three types of grades are to be considered: those you had during your secondary school, those you had on your bachelor if you are applying for a Master degree, and those of your language proficiency results.

Secondary school grades: even if you are applying for a master programme you may also be asked to show your secondary education GPAs. This is to consider what type of student you are. This information comes in hand when you are applying for a bachelor programme scholarship mostly.

Bachelor grades: these include information about all the ECTs you have completed and the grade obtained on each and every single one of the subjects. In this case, it is specified in most cases if either you need to be on the top 5% or on the top 10% of your class.

Language proficiency results: as it was stated before, this is not only a requirement for the scholarship but also for all the university programmes. Dutch people are quite strict when it comes to the proficiency of the English language among their students. It is true that most people in this country speak English almost as good as their mother tongue, so you can imagine how important is on an academic level.
The IELTS and TOEFL minimum scores asked for in the Netherlands is even higher than in most English speaking countries. Most scholarships are going to trust the University to measure through the admission process your language level, but that is something you always have to take into account.
As mentioned before, English requirements (specific to the programme in case of Language Programmes) and in any case English Proficiency proves, either IELTS ( mostly 6.0 on average), TOEFL (minimum 83 or higher) or Cambridge Certificate (C1 with a  minimum score: 169 total, 162 writing or C2 with a minimum score: 180 total, 162 writing).

Good news is unless you want to study in Dutch this is not something you will have to worry about!

Availability and Deadlines

Scholarships have an annual deadline: the deadline for Government funded scholarship application is either 1 February 2019 or 1 May 2019. Each University has its own terms and conditions when it comes to their privately funded scholarships. They open their application process for several months in advance. It is much recommended to do everything on time since letters of recommendations, international payments, language certificates and even diploma (or proof of anticipated degree) take a little longer than you may think to be ready. Most scholarship programmes receive thousands of applications, and only those received within the deadlines will be considered.

The availability or amount of scholarships depends on the same. Most of them talk about 20 to 25 awards but that depends on the type of financial aid you are getting. For instance, Leiden University Excellence Scholarship offers three different types of awards and as many as they can until running out of funds: a 10,000 euros reduction of the tuition fee, a 15,000 reduction of the tuition fee and a total tuition fee minus the statutory tuition fee (which tends to be around 2,000 euros).

Financial Matters

The whole idea of a scholarship is helping remarkable students who can’t pay a high tuition fee and who want to continue their studies to have the chance to do so. Proving your financial difficulties is something very important for some of the scholarships offered to study in the Netherlands.

Financial matters are not something that all of the scholarships in this country require in order to apply to it, but it definitely plays a very important role in order to justify the need to apply for this award. In other cases, however, the decisive factors are GPAs.

Field of Study

The field of your study is one of the most relevant factors when it comes to the availability of scholarships. Research-oriented programmes and fields such as medicine, biology, social sciences, and technical programmes are more likely to be considered relevant enough to offer awards for students who are following them.

A great example of full covered tuition fee and living expenses (awarding students with up to 25,000 euros) is the Amsterdam Excellence Scholarships for international students oriented to the fields of:

• Child Development and Education
• Communication
• Economics and Business
• Humanities
• Law
• Psychology
• Science
• Social Sciences

This scholarship, for instance, awards extraordinary students from all these faculties who are enrolled at a Master programme from the Universiteit van Amsterdam. In this case, there is even an extension of the scholarship to be able to finish the studies in the case of a two-years programme.

Extra Information to be Considered

Photo courtesy of geralt || Flickr
  • Make sure that you are available to follow the whole programme. If you are honoured with a scholarship and you receive the money to pay for your studies, make sure that you can complete all the credits that you have enrolled on. It is very important to make sure that will be able to finish the whole academic year because dropping it at some point means reimbursing all the money.
  • Not being eligible for the Dutch system of grant and loans. As I explained in my last article about tuition fees, there are two types of tuition fees: statutory fees are the cheapest ones and if you have in your possession a European passport, you will most likely be entitled to this Government help. In this case, you are less likely to be eligible for a scholarship. This is the reason why most of them are oriented to non-EEA students.
  • Make sure you can apply for a visa or resident permit. This is something that neither the University nor the awarding institution will take into consideration. You have to check yourself and make sure that all your documents are up to date and that you won’t have any problem asking for the correspondent visa or permit to move to the Netherlands. This is something to take into consideration both for your studies and for the scholarships.
  • There is an age limit! Most scholarships ask postulants to be between 18 and 30 years old. Some of them go up to 35. This changes in the case of PhD and exchange professors or professionals, who are allowed to be up to 50 years old in order to be considered for the scholarship.
  • Don’t forget that before applying for a scholarship you need to be conditionally admitted to the programme of your choice. Once you have received the confirmation from the university you can start preparing all the documents and information you are going to need for the scholarship.

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