The Netherlands is among the top choice of countries for students wishing to pursue higher studies abroad. According to studies, more than 100,000 students opt for the Netherlands for its English-taught courses and more affordable fees relative to other European countries.

However, as you transition from one country to another, there are chances you might face a language barrier. To save you from that, we can help you understand the different language tests you’ll need to become an international student in the Netherlands. Let’s take a closer look at them!

Language Proficiency Tests Needed in the Netherlands

The language tests you need to take to apply to Netherlands universities are usually for English or the country’s native language, which is Dutch. Here are the specific tests:

Dutch Language Tests for International Students

Although the medium of instruction in most university programs is English, certain top universities may require international students to take Dutch language tests. That requirement is especially crucial if you’re enrolling in Dutch-taught courses. In that case, you must pass the following tests.

1. Nt2 Test

The Nt2 or Nederlands als tweede taal test is an essential language proficiency assessment for international students applying to universities in the Netherlands. Its name translates to “Dutch as a Second Language,” and it serves as a crucial tool to evaluate non-native speakers’ competence in the Dutch language.

Most universities in the Netherlands, such as the University of Amsterdam and the University of Tilburg, require applicants to have at least Nt2 level I or II. The NT2 Programma I assesses basic Dutch proficiency, whereas NT2 Programma II evaluates more advanced language skills.

Like the IELTS, NT2 has 4 parts: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. To prepare for this test, you need to be confident and engage yourself by actively speaking and writing in Dutch to pass the exam. The test costs €200, with each part costing €50.

2. CNaVT – Certificaat Nederlands als Vreemde Taal

Another essential test most students will need to get admission in the Netherlands is the CNaVT. It is known as a Certificate of Dutch as a Foreign Language in English and is considered a comprehensive assessment that evaluates non-native speakers’ proficiency in the Dutch language.

A high level of proficiency is crucial when considering programs taught in Dutch, as it ensures that students possess the necessary skills to engage in academic endeavors actively. The test comprises different levels, each reflecting varying degrees of Dutch language proficiency. In short, it serves as a bridge between international students and the rich academic languages of the Netherlands.

Top universities in the Netherlands, such as the University of Tilburg and Wageningen University, recognize the value of the CNaVT test and require students to pass it to gauge their language readiness. To get into your dream university, you must at least have 60-100 points in the test.

English Language Tests for International Students

When applying for programs taught in English, most universities in the Netherlands require international students to pass the following English language tests. So, let’s take a closer look at their minimum required scores.

1. IELTS – International English Language Testing System

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test plays a pivotal role for international students aiming to study at universities in the Netherlands. It is a globally recognized language proficiency test that evaluates English Language skills.

It consists of four core components: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Each section assesses a specific language skill, ranging from understanding spoken English to expressing complex ideas verbally and in writing.

For most undergraduate programs, a score of approximately 6.0 to 6.5 is typically required, while for master’s programs, the range might extend from 6.5 to 7.0. For instance, the University of Leiden requires a 6.5 band, while the University of Amsterdam requires an overall 7.0 band.

2. TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language

Another well-known test for getting admission to your dream Netherlands university is TOEFL. It ensures that students possess the requisite language skills for active participation in academic pursuits.

It also has four main sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. These segments gauge various language competencies, from comprehending written and spoken English to expressing complex ideas verbally.

Most universities specify a minimum TOEFL score as a part of their admission criteria. A score of around 80 to 90 is commonly required for undergraduate programs, while for master’s programs, the range might extend from 90 to 100.

3. DET – Duolingo English Test

Last but not least, the Duolingo English Test is one of the significant tests for getting into a university in the Netherlands. It assesses your understanding of written and spoken English and your ability to express ideas in clear verbal and written English.

Several universities accept the DET as an alternative to traditional English proficiency tests like IELTS and TOEFL. However, the particular prerequisites for admission and scores can differ between institutions and even between programs at the same institution. For instance, you need an approximately 100 to 110 score for undergraduate programs, while for master’s programs, the range is 110 to 120.


If you plan to become an international student in the Netherlands, start preparing early for language tests like NT2, IELTS, TOEFL, and the ones mentioned above. By doing so, you’ll know how to communicate effectively with your teachers and fellow students, which will help you in the long run!


We hope this article has taught you much about language tests required by universities in the Netherlands. If you want to know more about studying in this country, check out this ultimate guide for those who wish to study in the Netherlands!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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