Students who have finished their bachelor programmes can’t just start doing any master programme they like the look of. One out of every five Dutch master programmes selects its students on the basis of motivation, say, or exam marks. And this is one out of every three if you count all the two-year research master programmes – and even a bit more at EUR.

Big differences

The Education Inspectorate says there are big differences between the universities. Only a small number of the master programmes at Tilburg, Groningen, Nijmegen and Leiden make a point of carefully choosing their students, but at Utrecht there are hardly any master programmes at all that admit students without screening them pretty closely first.

The four universities of technology don’t screen candidates at all, but they do set admission requirements. For instance, you can’t go and do a master programme in applied physics if you’ve got a bachelor degree in philosophy.

List of marks, cv and motivation

Almost all selective master programmes ask to see candidates’ list of marks. Half of these have a bottom limit: you’re only allowed in if your marks don’t go below a 7, for instance. And the same requirement applies to the master programmes at RSM. Research master programmes do this more often than ‘ordinary’ ones.

These programmes also choose applicants on the basis of their motivation which emerges from letters or during interviews. And candidates’ curricula vitae are always an important factor too. Other types of requirements like giving references, doing a test or describing your working experience aren’t so common. During the selection procedure, master programmes have to set at least two requirements.