Home Student Life University of Amsterdam – What is The Acceptance Rate?

University of Amsterdam – What is The Acceptance Rate?

by Micaela Zaslabsky

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is ranked as one of the best universities in the world, according to QS Top, it is the 62th University in the World and according to the US News Best Global Universities the 20th best. Besides, it is the second-best university in the Netherlands.

The acceptance rate of the UvA is 4% for international students, approx. of 5000 students. However, the university has 32000 students every year, which implies an acceptance rate of 26% an acceptable rate for a top 100 university. The acceptance rate also depends on the programme you choose.

Photo Courtesy of UvA || Facebook Profile

Many factors modify the acceptance rate because it is not the same applying for a Bachelor (BA) than a Master (MA) due to the limited number of places, the specificity of the programmes and so on. Besides, most MAs are in English and most BA programmes in Dutch, making it easier for Dutch students to apply for the BAs. If you want to find out more about the UvA rates, take a look down below!

Acceptance Rate UvA

Ranking websites like Collegedunia and Go to University provide information based on their statistics about the acceptance rate and requirements to apply at the UvA. However, officially, the UvA doesn’t focus on a general acceptance rate and only informs students of the number of applications taken each year for each specific programme.

Considering the information given by the two ranking websites mentioned, they only consider the acceptance rate for international students of the UvA, a 4% of acceptance. This means that if the number of international students at the UvA is up to 5000 per year and the university counts with 32000 students, the acceptance rate is around 25-30%.

A 25-30% acceptance rate would be a relatively acceptable acceptance rate for such a prestigious university in such a popular city like Amsterdam is. The UvA is considered to be the number 2 of the country and according to many rankings, it is always on the top 100 of the world (read more about rankings here).

Moreover, if we consider the number one university in the Netherlands is Leiden University, with a 50% acceptance rate, we can see that it doesn’t necessarily depend on the prestige but also on the location, the language of the programmes, the programme itself, the minimum application requirements for people to be able to apply, etc.

Acceptance Rate: Factors

As I was mentioning before, we can estimate that the acceptance rate of the UvA is 25-30% approximately. This is based on the 4% acceptance rate for international students. Why is so much lower the acceptance rate for international students?

One of the main aspects to take into account to understand why the number of international students is considerably lower than the rate of Dutch students is that Dutch students don’t have to fulfil all the many requirements international students have to. This is because it is implied that Dutch students have already achieved the level required by following the Dutch education. This may or may not be true but it automatically means that they have one foot in.

However, in order to be considered internationally, any university in the world has to have a minimum number of international students and staff at the university to be classified among the best. This translates into 5000 places for international students and a high percentage of foreign professors and PhD.

We have to consider that the UvA has more than 15 English BA programmes and most MA programmes are taught in English. In total, they offer over 100 programmes. This means that the amount of international students applying is really high considering the large amount of English-taught classes they have.

Some factors to consider are the following:

  1. English Proficiency
  2. City Popularity
  3. Prestige
  4. Curriculum
  5. The Specificity of the Programmes

English Proficiency UvA

Something I learnt while applying to several Dutch universities, including the UvA is that the required level of English proficiency is considerably higher than English speaking universities of Ireland, the US and the UK. This can be surprising but it is mostly true.

While, for instance, in the US and Ireland the minimum TOEFL of 75-80 or IELTS of 5, the UvA and all Dutch universities aim for a higher score. Unless you are planning on studying in Dutch (for what you also need a specific language certificate), the English proficiency tests accepted are IELTS ( mostly 6.0 on average), TOEFL (around 85 for BAs and around 90-100 for MAs) or Cambridge Certificate(C1 or C2). Plus, depending on the programme you choose, other specific language requirements.

For more information, you have to check the specific programme of choice. If you are a native English speaker or have studied your whole life at English speaking schools, you won’t have to prove it either.

Location and Prestige

Another factor to consider the acceptance rate is the number of students who apply to the University. For instance, if we are talking about a university that:

  • Offers many English-taught programmes (over 100!)
  • Is prestigious, on top of all rankings
  • Is located in one of the most popular cities in the world
  • Is located in one of the wealthiest countries in Europe with a big economy
  • Is a multicultural environment

According to Top University Ranking, the city of Amsterdam is ranked as the 24th best city in the world to study (and probably to live in). Even though it is a very expensive city (read more about it here), there are many reasons why it is one fo the main choices for students from all over the world:

  • Language: English is spoken not only at uni but everywhere else, making it possible to socialise, work while studying and having a career there afterwards. More here.
  • Quality of life: one of the highest in Europe, including scholarships for all EU students.
  • Job Opportunities: in many prestigious Dutch and foreign companies
  • International Student Community and University Staff
  • Location: ideal to visit any other country in Europe and easy access to the airport, train, etc. Moreover, the location of the university, in the same place where it was founded 400 years ago.

This means that the UvA probably receives thousands and thousands of applications and having a limited number of places for every programme, it is not necessarily hard to get in but too popular. Read more in Is it hard to get into Amsterdam University?

Moreover, the popularity goes hand to hand with the prestige, which is reflected in the high amount of publications, the high amount of international staff, the location, the amazing installations, etc.

Once again, looking at World University Ranking, the universities in Amsterdam has a 91.2 score out of 100 on citations and mentioned publications in international magazines and scientific publications of all sorts.


There are two aspects of the curriculum, the student curriculum, who this person is are and he or she has done and it is good at, and the programme’s curriculum, what they are going to do and what profile they need to achieve it.

These two aspects are relevant when talking about the acceptance rate: it is important to consider not only who you are but what they want for the specific programme.

On the one hand, there are more Dutch students accepted at the UvA than international students. This is partially due to the fact that some programmes are in Dutch, but also due to the preparation of these students.

I wouldn’t go into how smart they are or if they are better than students from other countries in the world, however, since they have been studying inside the Dutch system, most of them already fulfil the requirements for most programmes, something not so easily achievable in the case of international students who have studied different programmes, in a different country and most likely in a different language.

That part concerns the student’s curriculum. However, it is strongly related to the programme’s curriculum: in other words, for specific programmes, mostly MAs, they look for a very particular type of student to work with, with very specific characteristics, achievements, etc. It doesn’t mean you are not good enough, it means they are looking for a very particular student profile.

The Specificity of the Programme

This is strongly related to the section above, the curriculum. Each programme has a specific curriculum and application procedure. It is extremely important to fulfil those requirements the way they ask it.

Maybe you are not a good profile for the programme that you like at the UvA yet you are great for another two you haven’t considered. I have experienced that myself.

Is it Hard to Get into the UvA?

Is it hard to be accepted at the UvA? As I mentioned before, I wrote a long article all about this including my personal experience.

All in all, I would say it is not, mostly because you are not required to do personal interviews, you are not required to have a family member studying or working there and there are no preferences in that sense, all EU students get help from the Government, etc.

In my opinion, even if the acceptance rate is not the highest, it is mostly because of the high number of students applying and not because of how difficult it is to get in. The number of students in each programme is reduced and there is has to be a filter.

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