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The educational style at the UvA trains students to be independent, take initiative, and invest in research. Grading and credits are organised according to national and European systems.

Educational style

If you’re coming from abroad you may also notice a difference between the educational style in the Netherlands and your home country.

In the Netherlands, students are expected to take on a high level of individual responsibility and initiative. We also encourage students to develop an independent and critical way of thinking.

Difference between research and applied universities

The University of Amsterdam is a research university. Unlike in many other countries, Dutch higher education makes a distinction between research universities and universities of applied sciences (hbo).

Programmes at research universities like the UvA focus more on theoretical aspects of the field of study and prepare students for undertaking independent research. Study programmes at universities of applied sciences prepare students for particular professions and tend to be more practically oriented.

Students at University Quarter


The Dutch grading system scale ranges from 1 to 10:

8.5 - 10 excellent
7.5 - 8.4 good
6.5 - 7.4 satisfactory
5.5 - 6.4 sufficient
1.0 - 5.4 fail

Teaching and evaluation

Your Bachelor’s or Master's programme is divided into various courses. For each course, you will attend class once or twice a week for two to three hours.

Classes may have different formats including lectures, tutorials, seminars, practical training and fieldwork.   

In your courses, you will be evaluated based on one or more of the following methods: class participation, oral presentations, assignments, final papers and final exams.


International students doing an English-taught programme are not required to know Dutch. We do recommend that you take a Dutch course when coming to study in Amsterdam as it will help you feel at home in the city and engage with Dutch culture.

You can take various Dutch courses at our Institute for Dutch Language Education (INTT). It is also possible to take a free online Dutch module during your studies.


Most courses are worth 6 or 12 ECTS (European Credits). One ECTS credit represents 25 to 30 hours of study (including class attendance).

To complete a full-time programme, students must complete 60 credits per academic year (30 credits per semester).

To find out how ECTS credits compare to credits at universities in other countries, consult the programme coordinators at your home university or the programme/study adviser for the programme you'd like to take at the UvA.