University of Amsterdam – Acceptance Rate, Ranking, Notable Alumni, and More

Founded in 1632 as the Athenaeum Illustre (“Illustrious School”) and later recognized as an official institution of higher education, the University of Amsterdam, Universiteit van Amsterdam in Dutch, and UvA for short, boasts some of the most unique programs in the world. 

UvA offers over 100 programs that are taught in English and is one of the most prominent research universities in Europe. Faculty are at the forefront of research across many disciplines.

The university enrolls over 43,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff members. Diversity, sustainability, and social safety are the three pillars of UvA, fostering an open, inclusive, and intellectually challenging learning environment for students. 

These values are reflected by one of its most unique and innovative programs, Philosophy, Psychology, Law, and Economics (PPLE), a very selective, interdisciplinary Bachelor’s program. The program draws the most motivated and talented students, most of whom complete their degree within four years and go on to pursue advanced degrees. But this is just one among many exemplary programs.

As the name suggests, UvA is located in Amsterdam, deemed by Top Universities as one of the best cities in the world in which to spend one’s collegiate life. Amsterdam exhibits diversity on numerous levels. 

Over 180 nationalities are represented, and over half of residents having been born overseas. 

University of Amsterdam Ranking

University of Amsterdam
A. Bakker, Amsterdam – Lab UvA Plantage Muidergracht, CC BY 3.0

The University of Amsterdam has garnered many accolades, including some of the top spots on esteemed published lists of international and regional rankings. 

The most prestigious of these publications, the US News & World Report, ranks UvA #40 among “Best Global Universities, #9 among “Best Global University in Europe,” and #1 in the Netherlands. 

According to the same source, UvA boasts an eclectic mix of top programs, ranging from the arts & humanities, hepatology, psychiatry/psychology, to immunology. 

Other top publications echo UvA’s premier status as one of the best global universities out there. 

Times Higher Education places the school at #65 worldwide and among the top #20 in Europe, for its research and international outlook. The university’s remarkable research output has also been noted by QS Top Universities, which ranks the school at #55 worldwide on its most recent list.

While there is a disparity among these rankings, UvA is, without a doubt, a global school of the highest caliber.

Notable Alumni

An established and premier institution like UvA earns its place in the top ranks in part because of the impact made by its faculty and alumni. The university can count Nobel Prize Winners, artists, and notable politicians on its alumni roster. UvA alumni continue to make a global impact to this very day, ensuring the school’s continued legacy as an outstanding global institution.

One alum Nobel laureate is Christiaan Eijkman, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1929 for his groundbreaking research on the vitamin thiamine. Other UvA alumni who have made waves in science are Alec Jeffrey, inventor of DNA fingerprinting, and nutrition education pioneer, Sarah Bavly

Astrophysicist Antonie Pannekoek was quite the polymath, taught philosophy at UvA, and was actively involved in politics as a Marxist theorist.

UvA alumni have flourished and made significant contributions in the arts, social sciences, politics, and humanities. One notable is Emmy winner Michael W. King, a producer who wrote and directed the award-winning PBS documentary feature, Bangin’, which explores youth violence in America. 

The school has produced its share of high-profile politicians, including a handful of prime ministers, such as Pieter Cort van der Linden, Joop den Uyl, and former Belgian Prime Minister and now President of the European Council, Charles Michel

This is just a tiny sample of the UvA’s illustrious alumni.


Typically, global universities have a two-tiered tuition and fee structure; international students pay more fees than domestic students. Dutch universities divide tuition and fees into statutory fees and institutional fees. 

Dutch nationals and students from European Union/European Economic Area countries normally pay the statutory fee while international students pay an institutional fee.  The only relevant difference between these two fees is that the institutional fees are higher, which ties back to our point about the two-tiered fee structure of most global universities.

There are a couple of factors that determine tuition and fees each academic year. Tuition and fees also vary from one department or program to another. 

For example, the cost of attendance for students in the Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE) program is 3,252 euros (roughly $3,860) for Dutch students, as this is the statutory fee.

Another critical factor in the calculation of tuition and fees is the student’s nationality; according to I am Expat, the Dutch government covers most of the costs of attending university for domestic students, students from other European Union/European Economic Area countries, and Swiss and Surinamese nationals. 

This means that the total cost of attendance is higher for students who do not fall under any of the above categories. We advise these students to research these costs by reaching out directly to the schools to help them calculate the overall cost of attendance over the course of one year and determine whether they qualify for scholarships.

University of Amsterdam Acceptance Rate for International Students & How to Get In

University of Amsterdam
jimmyweee, Amsterdam, CC BY 2.0

International students comprise roughly 25% of the student body in any given year, and roughly 75% of students in the PPLE program, for example, are non-Dutch. This is quite promising for prospective international students, who are sought after by the admissions committee. But exactly how many international students are accepted each year?

The exact number and percentage of international students offered admission each year is hard to pin down. However, looking at different sources, the acceptance rate can be anywhere between 20 and 30%

According to CollegeDunia, the overall acceptance rate for international students is 47%, but the rate for students who applied to UvA’s top-ranking programs is around 10%, based on data from the most recent five years. 

For some programs, fewer than 4% of applicants are admitted. The main takeaway here is that it is more helpful to look at the admissions stats for individual programs of choice, specifically their admission requirements.

Prospective international students are required to submit recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, a resume, academic transcripts, student visa and passport, and English-language proficiency exam results, such as TOEFL iBT, Cambridge: C1, or the IELTS

Students from English-speaking countries, whose first language is English, are not required to take any of these exams; graduating from an English-speaking high school is a sufficient demonstration of English proficiency. These are the requirements outlined for students applying to English-taught programs. Students applying to Dutch-taught programs need to submit proof of Dutch-language proficiency by submitting scores for the NT2 Dutch exam.

The selection process for UvA, specifically the PPLE program, is highly selective. While there is no data on the number of applications the students receive each year, we do know that only 200 students are admitted. Applicants must not only have a solid academic record and scores, but they must also demonstrate that they will be able to contribute robustly to UvA’s cosmopolitan culture and values.

Is the University of Amsterdam Right For You?

University of Amsterdam
Swimmerguy269, Allard Pierson Museum, CC BY-SA 3.0

A low acceptance rate might discourage many talented and passionate students from applying. The critical thing to remember is that the best admissions committees evaluate candidates holistically; no one is reduced to scores and numbers. 

One of the things they look for is whether or a student will be a good fit for the school. It is equally, if not more, important for a prospective student to consider whether a school is a good fit for them.

UvA’s international student body represents over 100 nationalities. As we have mentioned earlier, UvA prides itself in being a global university that embraces cosmopolitan values. The core of the AUC mission is to prepare students to thrive and impact an increasingly diverse and increasingly global world in the 21st century. 

The school strives to strengthen inclusivity and diversity. These ideas reverberate throughout its curriculum. Likewise, PPLE students are passionately curious about the world around them, embrace diversity in all forms, and have a collaborative mindset keen on solving the most pressing problems of the day.

Finally, UvA boasts world-class faculty who are at the top of their fields.

Location can make or break the undergraduate experience. UvA is located in Amsterdam, one of the best cities in the world, famed for its beautiful canals, sustainable tourism, and culture. It is not solely popular among globe-trotting tourists; Amsterdam ranks as one of the best cities for quality of life.

Any student excited about the prospect of studying at a world-class and diverse, global institution in such a vibrant city would feel at home. 

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