Ph.D. is a globally acclaimed stepping stone in a student’s academic life based on extensive research in their chosen field. It is the highest form of educational achievement that requires much hard work and commitment on the student’s behalf. Students gain a lot of practical experience by doing research and putting their acquired skills to the test. Putting their knowledge and skills to the test is extremely important before entering their careers.

Getting a Ph.D. in the Netherlands is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience for earnest students looking to polish their learned skills. The Dutch institutes give their students unique exposure to autonomous problem-solving teaching methods, multicultural interactions among students, and internationally acclaimed degrees.

This article will provide a complete guide on how to study for a PhD in the Netherlands, its requirements, and the application processing steps.

Ph.D. Degree Admission Requirements

After shortlisting the institute of your choice, the next step students need to follow involves fulfilling the admission requirements. When applying for a degree abroad, you mostly need to keep up with the institute’s official webpage for any notifications or further instructions—all universities normally have the same admission protocol with a few exceptions. We have gathered a few common admission requirements you need to fulfill when applying for a doctoral degree in the Netherlands.

1. Proof of Master’s Degree

A student needs to have a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible for enrollment into a Ph.D. program. For example, at the University of Amsterdam, a foreign academic degree must be equivalent to this Dutch final university examination for international candidates. International candidates can request to be exempted from the legal Dutch educational requirements before they can be admitted. Still, they need to do this step swiftly during their application process because the request can be rejected as well.

2. Funds and Scholarships

Ph.D. is a research-based degree. Students, therefore, need to have proper funds to support their fieldwork. Universities recognize this requirement as mandatory at the time of admission.

Students who apply on the basis of scholarship have to guarantee that their scholar covers the entire Ph.D. trajectory as well as their living expenditures during their course duration. If you are looking for external resources to support your degree, you can apply for external grants to support research work; one reliable platform is Nuffic Grant Finder.

3. Curriculum Vitae

Another crucial part of the application process is the curriculum vitae. Students can include their academic and research activities, completed degrees, and relevant projects in their curriculum vitae. Universities in the Netherlands have their specific requirements for the essential documents and paperwork required in their CVs.

Suppose you are an international student coming to the Netherlands for the first time. In that case, your university may demand the disclosure of a Dutch Residence permit, and depending on your nationality, you may also need to submit paperwork for an entry visa. All the requirements and paperwork may vary depending on the university to which you apply. It is advisable to do your research and prepare your documentation accordingly.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed for Doctoral Programs

Another major requirement for attaining a doctoral degree in the Netherlands is Language Proficiency Tests. All students must be able to read textbooks, comprehend lectures, and participate in group discussions. Therefore, having some level of fluency in English is essential for getting a Ph.D. from a Dutch institute.

Students need to provide their TOEFL and IELTS scores and need to meet the entry test requirements. For example, at the University of Amsterdam, students need to have a minimum total score of 100 in TOEFL and for IELTS a minimum of 7.0 for the test, with a minimum of 6.5 for each test.

Wageningen University & Research requires a TOEFL IBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition Internet-based score of 90, with a minimum sub-score of 20 for speaking. For the IELTS academic version, the overall score requirement is 6.5, with a minimum sub-score of 6.0 for speaking.

On a side note, students should follow their desired university requirements before applying for a Ph.D. degree.

A positive aspect of studying in the Netherlands is that most universities offer programs in English. Some prominent examples include Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam, and Radboud University, among many more.

On the other hand, Leiden University and Tilburg University are available if you are interested in enrolling in programs in different languages. Some of the language courses offered include Arabic, Korean, Croatian, and French.

Ph.D. Degree Application Process

When applying for a doctoral program, the students need to keep an eye on their preferred institute notice board or other relevant networking platforms where study information is published. Once a student finds out their desired research subject, they can reach out to their institutes directly for further instructions. Generally, the steps to apply for a doctoral degree in the Netherlands are discussed in our article below.

Step 1. Selecting Your Preferred Doctoral Program

First and foremost, selecting the right program that supports your previous work and compliments your master’s degree is essential to streamline your degree. Students should do their research beforehand to ensure that whatever degree they choose to enroll in has all the desired aspects that enhance their degree. Along with this, preparing the necessary documentation required for your selected program is mandatory.

Step 2. Compiling the Required Documents

When carrying out the application process, you must keep all your paperwork in check. That includes your attested previous degrees, TOEFL and IELTS score documents, scholarship or grant documents as well as any reference letter that might be relevant.

If you are an international student, your visa or passport copy, along with any documents specifically requested by your institute should be submitted.

Step 3. Pay the Application Fee

All the universities require a non-refundable application fee that the students must pay before the enrollment process can begin. An important thing to note is that the application is only charged to international students or individuals with a non-Dutch education background. The amount of the application fees usually varies between €75 to €100 depending upon the university you apply to. For any queries always get information from the concerned official website to avoid any misunderstandings and to stay updated.

FAQs about Studying for a Ph.D. Program in the Netherlands

Is it Expensive to Study for a Ph.D. in the Netherlands?

Many students are interested in enrolling in Dutch institutes for doctoral degrees. The first question that comes to every student’s mind is the total expense they have to endure to get their degree. To answer that question, the students may have to consider the other countries they have short-listed. Getting a Ph.D. in an English-speaking country like the UK is more expensive than in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the Dutch institutes are more costly than those in other European countries like Germany, Belgium, etc.

Getting an estimate of the doctoral degree in the Netherlands depends on the university you choose to pursue your degree. For example, the Erasmus University Rotterdam costs €8,000 per year. This fee is the same for local and international students. While in Universiteit Leiden, the annual fee for international students can go up to €19,600 per year.

In conclusion, getting a doctoral degree from a prestigious institute is every student’s dream. Following the necessary steps required by your selected university and being prepared in advance by doing your research is going to ensure clarity. If you plan to study in the Netherlands, start applying now!


We hope that this article on studying Ph.D. in the Netherlands was helpful. You will find more educational resources on the Study in the Netherlands Page including various Open Courses in Europe to explore your options.

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.

Share this article via

Leave A Comment