Founded in 1632 as the Athenaeum Illustre, the University of Amsterdam is the third-oldest in the Netherlands. Commonly known as the UvA, it’s one of Europe's largest research universities and is the largest university in the Netherlands by enrolment. Check out our Top 10 Dutch Universities for International Students series of articles and videos.
Want to study in the Netherlands?
Check out our Top 10 Dutch Universities for International Students series of articles and videos.
The Athenaeum was a training centre for surgeons, city councillors, clergymen, well-to-do citizens, and merchants of Amsterdam during the prosperous Dutch Golden Age.
In 1877, the Athenuem Illustre became the Municipal University of Amsterdam (funded by the city) and received the right to confer doctoral degrees. The professors and lecturers were appointed by the city council.
In 1961, the school finally became a national university and was renamed the University of Amsterdam. The national government took over funding from the city and a Board of Governors took over the appointment of professors.
The university has seen considerable expansion since then, from 7,500 students in 1960 to over 32,000 in 2010. In 2007, the UvA undertook the construction of the Science Park Amsterdam, a 70-hectare campus to house the Faculty of Science along with the new University Sports Centre.
Total students enrolled (2010-2011): 32,739 students
International students: 2,257 (6.9% of student population)
Foreign student breakdown:
North American : 0.4%
Central & South American: 0.4%
Students make up just 4% of Amsterdam’s 783,364 inhabitants.
Overall ranking (2011):
Times Higher Education, 2011-2012: World: 92, Europe: 29, Netherlands: 4
QS World University Rankings, 2011: World: 63, Europe: 19, Netherlands: 1
In addition to the overall rankings, the university of Amsterdam was first among Dutch universities in five fields and placed in the top 50 internationally in the 2011 QS World University Rankings by Subject in the fields of Linguistics, Sociology, Philosophy, Geography, Science, Economics & Econometrics, and Accountancy & Finance.
There’s little doubt that the city of Amsterdam has a lot to offer. And not just sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The city was listed on The World's 15 Best Places To Live in Mercers 2008 "Quality of living Survey". In the 2008 pan-European "International student barometer", 96 percent of UvA students polled were "very satisfied" about safety, and 96 percent said it was "the place to be".
Like most Dutch universities, buildings of the UvA are spread around the city. The administration of the school, most of the faculties, and the majority of student houses are located in the historic City Centre of Amsterdam, within the canal ring which is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Faculty of Science is located on the east side of the city at the newly constructed Science Park Amsterdam. This 70-hectare campus contains the UvA's science facilities, research institutes, student housing, the University Sports Centre, and businesses.
In the southeastern Bijlmermeer neighborhood, the Faculty of Medicine is housed in the Academic Medical Centr e(AMC), the Faculty of Medicine's teaching and research hospital. The Faculty of Dentistry is located in the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA) in the southern Zuidas district on the campus of the VU University Medical Centre.
The University Sports Centre forms an important part of life for many students. With six different locations and 83 different (sporting) activities, it’s got something for everybody.
Read and listen to our interview with exchange student Songyee Lee from Korea.
The UvA offers over 120 Master’s programmes in English – one of the highest numbers of any European university.
There are seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Science, Law, Medicine, and Dentistry. The university offers 63 Bachelor's programmes, 200 Master's programmes, and 10 postgraduate programmes.
In addition, the university has a strong emphasis on internationalisation, offering over 120 Master programmes taught in English, and exchange options with 200 universities in Europe and 40 institutions outside of Europe. Over 2,500 international students and researchers study at the school.
- Exchange programmes
- Bachelor’s programmes
- Masters programmes
- Advanced Master’s programmes
- PhD programmes
- Summer programmes
Acceptance rates vary per nationality (EU or non-EU) and per faculty. Students are usually accepted if they can demonstrate an adequate English proficiency and the required pre-education (differs per programme). As an example, here are the requirements for a Master’s in Arts.
As an international student, you will also likely need a residence permit and possibly a visa. Read more about those here.
Tuition for EEA students is set annually by the government. For 2011-2012, this is € 1,713. Tuition for non-EEA-students is set by each faculty/school individually and varies per academic program.
For non-EEA students at the UvA, the tuition ranges from € 10,500 - 12,000 for a Master’s programme in Humanities, Social / Behavioural sciences / Law / Economics and Business Studies to € 31,000 for the executive master in International Finance or the Amsterdam MBA.
Cost of living:
An example of an overview of average living expenses per month:
Accommodation (including gas, water, electricity): € 375 – 550
Accommodation: € 375 - 550 per month
Living expenses: € 400 - 500 per month
Insurance: € 50 per month
Books: € 75 per month
Public transport: € 70 - 100 per month maximum (unless you live outside of Amsterdam)
Other (non-recurrent) expenses:
Visa and residence permit fees (for non-EU students) : € 600
Bicycle (second hand): € 100 - € 200, a decent lock costs approximately € 50
A number of items with their average prices:
Cup of tea or coffee in a café: € 2.50
Cheese sandwich: € 3.00
Meal in a typical student restaurant: € 12.00
Cinema ticket: € 8.00
Hairdresser (cut and blow-dry): € 40 - € 50
There are scholarship options for both Dutch and non-Dutch students. Check out this listing which includes grants on the university, national, and European levels or see the Nuffic grant finder search engine here.
EU students with valid residence permits can also get part-time jobs. Students from outside the EU must get a work permit in order to get a part-time job and, even with this permit, may only work for a maximum of ten hours per week (which can be condensed into three months of full-time work).
Read more about working as a student on the UvA website here or on the Nuffic website.
UvA arranges rooms for international students, but space is limited, so it pays to sign up early. Find links to the housing corporations as well as descriptions of Amsterdam neighbourhoods here.
As an international student, you can live in the university-arranged rooms for a maximum of one year. After that you need to find another place. It is strongly suggested that you register with the Dutch student housing website at the beginning of your stay.
Amsterdam is one of the entertainment capitals of Europe. While many students will be curious about the famous – or infamous – coffeeshops, Amsterdam’s nightlife has much, much more to offer, including everything from bars and dance clubs to casinos and theatre performances. Not to mention the ever-popular (with tourists at least) red-light district.
Most of the cafés, restaurants, nightclubs and discotheques are centred on the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein areas, and are still hopping until the wee hours.
If you’re looking for a little cultural entertainment, see a show in Theatre Carré or the Stadsschouwburg (there are usually some theatre productions in English), take in a classical concert at the Concertgebouw or check out some jazz at the Bimhuis. For other live shows, check out the big – and small – name bands at the Melkweg or Paradiso.
There are movie theatres around the city, but the Tuschinski is particularly well-known for its art-deco architecture. If you’re looking for something a little more artsy, check out the student-run Kriterion.
During the summer months, Amsterdam really comes alive, with outdoor terrace bars / restaurants and festivals every weekend.
Who’s the boss:
Acting President: Paul Doop
Rector Magnificus: Dymph van den Boom
The University of Amsterdam's research history has produced three Nobel Laureates and ten Spinoza Prize winners.
Alumni in the area of Politics include former Prime Ministers Pieter Cort van der Linden and Joop den Uyl.
Former President of the European Central Bank, Minister of Finance, and President of the Central Bank of the Netherlands Wim Duisenberg also attended UvA.
UvA Service and Information Centre (SIC)
1012 ZA Amsterdam
T: +31 20 - 525 8080 (regular students)
T: +31 20 - 525 3333 (prospective students)