Though Utrecht University (formerly Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht) is now one of the largest in Europe, when it was founded in 1636, there were only seven professors and four departments: philosophy, theology, medicine and law. Only a few dozen students were enrolled.
Through the seventeenth century the school flourished, despite competition with Leiden, Groningen, and Amsterdam, among others. In fact, the competition spurred many improvements, including a botanical garden and astronomical observatory. The university attracted many students from abroad, especially Germany, England and Scotland.
In 1806, Utrecht University was downgraded to an école secondaire (high school) by the French occupants of the Netherlands, but after the Kingdom of the Netherlands was established in 1813 it regained its original status. Utrecht joined Leiden and Groningen as one of the three universities of the new state. Utrecht played a prominent role in the golden age of Dutch science.
Want to study in the Netherlands?
Check out our Top 10 Dutch Universities for International Students series of articles and videos.
Total students enrolled (2011): 30,174
International students (2011): 1.786 (6% of student population)
Foreign student breakdown:
EU: 1,234 students
26% of the city’s population is between 15-29, due to the large student population and just over 20% of Utrecht’s population is of non-Western descent, so international students won’t feel out of place.
Overall ranking (2010):
In the 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities, the University of Utrecht ranked 48th in the world and the highest in the Netherlands. It has held the highest Dutch position for nine consecutive years.
According to the Times Higher Education ranking, Utrecht University is 68th in the world, and the highest in The Netherlands.
Utrecht University is the largest university in the Netherlands and its seven faculties are spread throughout the city. The two large faculties of Humanities and Law are situated in Utrecht’s medieval city core. The other five faculties and most of the administrative services are located in De Uithof, a campus area on the outskirts of the city. University College is situated in the former Kromhout Kazerne, which used to be a Dutch military base.
With its explicit policy of encouraging foreign students, Utrecht University has a strong international focus. Every year, approximately 2,500 international students attend the school. With some 130 nationalities working and studying closely together, students learn to work in an international environment from the start - essential for scientists and scholars in an increasingly globalised world.
Read and listen to our interview with international student Kalina Dancheva.
For a virtual visit, check out the 360 views of the school and city.
Motto: Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos, Sun of Justice, shine upon us
Utrecht University offers the widest range of English-language programmes in the Netherlands.
The university consists of seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Law, Economics and Governance, Geosciences, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Science. Within that, there are 45 Bachelor’s degree programmes (four of which are English-taught), 169 Master’s degree programmes (81 of which are English-taught), and various PhD programmes (completed and presented in English). In addition, there are around 200 certificate courses and 130 summer school courses.
- English-taught programmes
- Bachelor’s programmes
- Master’s programmes - also check out the brand new website for prospective Master's students
- Exchange programmes
- Summer school
- PhD programmes
In addition to the academic prerequisites, you’ll also need a good command of the English/Dutch language. Read more about the language requirements.
As an international student, you will also likely need a residence permit and possibly a visa. Read more about those here.
Tuition for Dutch students is set annually by the government. For 2011-2012, this is € 1,713. This fee also applies to most, but not all, full-time EU/EEA students at Utrecht University.
Tuition for international students is set by each school individually and varies per academic program.
For non-EEA students at Utrecht University, the tuition ranges from € 6,120 for a bachelor’s degree in Arts, Humanities or Economics to € 10,405 in medicine or veterinary medicine. For a master’s degree, international students are looking at € 14,280 in Arts to € 19,280 in medicine.
There are some exceptions, such as if you are enrolled for only part of the year. Read more.
Cost of living:
An example of average living expenses per month:
Accommodation (furnished, including utilities, individual / shared): € 400 - € 650
Living expenses (food, clothes, public transport, etc): € 350 - € 450
Insurance: € 40 - € 100
Books / study materials: € 65 - € 85
Contingencies (bicycle, higher than usual bill, etc): € 500 (once)
Some common costs:
Coffee: € 1.85 – 2.00
Soda: € 1.95
Beer: € 1.70 - 3.00
Glass of wine: € 3.00
French fries: € 3.00
1 kg potatoes: € 0.93
1 kg cheese: € 7.00 - 10.00
1 litre milk: € 0.60 - 1.10
Box of 10 eggs: € 1.59
bread: € 0.70 - 1.99
Movie: € 5.00 - 9.00
Museum: € 7.50 - 12.00
Concert € 18.00 - 65.00
Soccer / football game: € 21.00 - 34.00
Bus ticket: € 7.50 for a reloadable OV Chipkaart, then .79 per ride and .12 per km
Taxi: starts at € 7.50
Rental bike (24 hours): € 3.00
EU students with valid residence permits can also get part-time jobs to help finance their studies. 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 3 months of full-time work).
Read more about this on the Nuffic website.
For international students, the university has an arrangement with SSH Short Stay. This local housing corporation offers temporary furnished housing. They reserve a range of furnished accommodation in and around Utrecht especially for international students. Check out the portal for student housing.
Although Utrecht is definitely a student city, there’s no single student hangout. That’s not to say there’s nowhere to party – in fact, there’s always lots going on in Utrecht. If clubbing is your thing, Thursdays might be your best bet as many clubs grant free entrance with a student ID card. If you’re just looking for a drink, there are many cafés and bars at the Neude and more at Janskerkhof and the Domplein. Utrecht’s unique water-level “cave” bars and restaurants along the Oudegracht are also popular for dinner and drinks.
If you’re looking for a cultural evening out, Utrecht is sure to have something for you – especially as it’s hoping to become the cultural capitol of Europe by 2018. You could see a performance at the Vredenburg, a famous classical music hall, or take in a movie at the Netherlands Film Festival. Of course, there’s also soccer / football – if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, you could join the FC Utrecht fans at the Stadion Galgenwaard.
For reviews of more popular party places in Utrecht, check the listing here.
Who’s the boss:
President of the Executive Board: Yvonne van Rooy
Rector: Bert van der Zwaan
- Primatologist Frans de Waal
- Dr. Maung Maung, the 7th President of Union of Myanmar, and a well-known writer.
- Nobel Prize winners
Visiting address, Student Services/International Office:
Bestuursgebouw, Heidelberglaan 8, Uithof
Office hours: Mon-Fri from 11.00 to 16.00
Frequently asked questions
Tel: + 31 30 253 7000 (Monday to Friday 10-12 am and 1-3 pm)
Fax: + 31 30 253 2627
3508 TC Utrecht