Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam

Abraham Kuyper, Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901 – 1905, founded Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam in 1880. He wanted an independent university, free from interference by either chuch or state. In 1960s the university became primarily state-funded and has since welcomed people from a rich diversity of cultural backgrounds and religious faiths.


  • 9 Faculties
  • Over 18,000 Bachelor’s students
  • Almost 11,500 Master’s students
  • Over 4,600 employees
  • 25% of our academic staff has an international background
  • Evenly distributed male-female ratio
  • Our teaching and research programmes cover a broad spectrum of disciplines, from the Humanities to the Sciences and from Medicine to Theology

VU Amsterdam is an international renowned research university, where we conduct cutting-edge research into problems of major societal and scientific importance. With more than 50 Bachelor’s programs and around 175 Master’s programs. VU Amsterdam offers a wide range of study options. The university campus is situated in the south-western part of Amsterdam, in one of the most dynamicand fast-growing business districts in the Netherlands. Proximity to international Airport Schiphol and train connections within Europe make VU Amsterdam easily accessible to the world.

Bachelor’s programs

Bachelor’s programs at VU Amsterdam are three years degree programs with in-depth focus on the subjects area. All of the programs feature an cademic core that is not only devoted to research and learning skills, but also to ethics and integrity, and the historical and cultural context of science and society. Over 25 of our 50 bachelor’s degree programs are English-taught and therefore also open to international students.

Faculty of Science

  • Artificial Intelligence; Can we build robots that help prevent loneliness among elderly people? How can banks stop transaction fraud? How can we improve self-driving cars? How does Netflix know which movies to suggest we watch next? Artificial Intelligence (AI) has so many potential applications – in healthcare, banking, transport, entertainment and more. In this programme, you’ll learn not only about the technology behind AI, but also about its application in society.
  • Biomedical Sciences; During the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences programme you will study molecules, cells, and organs, and learn how they are interconnected. If you want to get to the bottom of what a disease is and to investigate how to treat and cure them, this programme is for you. As a biomedical scientist, you will usually not be working directly with patients—but behind the scenes you will be making all the difference.
  • Computer Sciences; During your Bachelor of Computer Science, you will acquire a broad foundation of knowledge about computers and how they work. The lectures and assignments are challenging and are delivered by teachers who combine teaching with high-quality research. You will study mathematics and logic and learn to code in different languages. You will also immerse yourself in security and network technology. The programme has an international character and is taught in English.
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences; Today’s society is in a constant state of flux, and future leaders need to be flexible, creative thinkers, able to cope with the complexity of the issues facing the world. A liberal arts and sciences education is an excellent foundation in this context. In addition to factual knowledge, a liberal arts and sciences education prepares you to become a multilingual, informed and engaged global citizen with well-developed intercultural competencies that enable you to read intelligently, think critically and write effectively on the processes shaping our world. part from the disciplinary courses in sciences, social sciences and humanities, the Academic Core courses provide the necessary academic skills, while the ability to choose electives allows you to be exposed to fields outside of traditional majors. You will learn to make complex connections across disciplines, cultures and institutions; become more creative in your problem-solving approaches and abilities and be more perceptive of the world around you. You will learn how to inform yourself about the issues that arise in your life, personally, professionally and socially, and to transform such knowledge into practical and ethical action.
  • Mathematics; How do prime numbers help us understand modern cryptography? How does geometry help explain the fundamental principles of physics? How does mathematics contribute to computer programming?  During this broad and challenging bachelor’s programme, you will receive an excellent foundation in both pure and applied mathematics, but you will also be provided with the chance to stake out your own focus. In the international classroom you will be surrounded by other math fanatics.
  • Mechanical Engineering; In the Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Twente, you will receive a project-based education on topics such as sustainable energy, healthcare technology, and smart manufacturing. Everything you learn you apply immediately in practice. Together with your fellow students, you will be seeking technical solutions to contemporary social challenges.

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences

  • Psychology; During the Psychology programme you gain a deeper understanding of human behaviour and how to change it. The degree qualifies you as a junior psychologist with a solid knowledge foundation . You also acquire research skills, such as designing different types of studies and analysing statistical data. Is our behaviour really driven by free will—what do you think? The bachelor Psychology was ranked second best, compared to other Psychology programmes at Dutch universities, according to the Keuzegids 2021. De Keuzegids is an independent online tool for prospective students to compare studies of different universities. It gives prospective students an overview which university scores highest on various topics, such as study facilities, scientific training, quality of lectures and lecturers and study counseling. Data used to rank studies for Keuzegids was taken from the NSE, a national survey among current students.

School of Economics and Business

  • Business Analytics; How can you use data to predict future demand? And how do you then use this prediction to set prices or make optimal use of capacity? In short: how can you use the power of data science, big data, statistics, and machine learning to help organisations make strategic decisions? During the Bachelor of Business Analytics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you will study every step of the path from raw data to optimal decision.
  • Econometrics and Data Science; As an econometrician you’ll come away with excellent mathematical skills, data-analysis skills, problem-solving skills and presentation skills. After all, you’ll also need to be able to communicate your proposed solutions to others who may not be econometricians. It’s a challenging programme that offers big rewards – join us!
  • Econometrics and Operations Research; What’s the impact of financial shocks like Brexit on inter-bank lending? How can hospitals make the most efficient use of the beds and the doctors they have available? How can production processes be optimised so that they make the most sustainable use of materials and energy? How do airports schedule flights so that millions of passengers can get from A to B? How do meteorologists predict extreme weather so that people can respond to flooding before it happens? How do doctors decide on the best treatments for their patients, based on big data? All these questions need graduates in Econometrics and Operations Research for answers. With this Bachelor’s degree, you’ll be equipped to find solutions to these and other economic and business challenges.
  • Economics and Business Economics; why do some people always want the cheapest product, whereas others will buy a more expensive one? How do you stop a bank from collapsing? Are nuclear plants the solution to the climate problem? During the Bachelor of Economics and Business Economics you study the many different facets of economic systems. You gain insight into how people, companies and governments behave, from the choices of individual consumers to decisions on a global scale.
  • International Business Administration; How do you introduce the people of India and engage them with a Dutch cheese brand? How do other cultures view topics like Corporate Social Responsibility and responsible finance? How can you respect diversity and establish trust in an international, virtual team? Your Bachelor of International Business Administration degree from VU Amsterdam will not just prepare you to work in an international environment. It will immerse you in it.

Faculty of Humanities

  • Ancient Studies; How were immigrants able to hold high positions in the Roman Empire? How did Greek sculpture influence the statues of later powers? Why does every period in world history give a different meaning to past events? During the Bachelor of Ancient Studies you will go back in time, investigating works of art, literature, and architecture. And you will gain insight into the impact of the zeitgeist, which is always changing.
  • Archaeology; Why do burial mounds have such special names? Why is there no primeval forest left in the Netherlands? What makes a jar containing coins and peppercorns such a revolutionary discovery? In the Bachelor’s Archaeology, you investigate the significance of archaeological artefacts and their impact on the present. You conduct research into the remains of all kinds of cultures, both in the classroom and in the field.
  • Communication and Information Studies; What effect does a multilingual policy have on an international company? How can safety instructions be optimised for construction workers whose first language is not English? What makes a company communicate through Twitter rather than Facebook?
  • English Language and Communication Studies; How can word choice lead to action? Is it still important to learn British or American English, or is an international type of English enough? How do advertisers and politicians use metaphors to persuade people to buy or believe things? In the English Language and Communication Studies specialisation of the Bachelor’s in Communication and Information Studies, you look at the English language in an international environment.
  • History and International Studies; How has democracy become a global standard while other types of government are considered ‘deviations’? What are the historical origins of global inequality and climate change? History and International Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an excellent choice for students interested in learning about the historical origins of our global society from an interdisciplinary perspective. 
  • Language Learning and Language Teaching; What role does language play in education? Why are certain aspects of languages extremely difficult to learn, while others are relatively easy? How do we learn a second language, and what are the best teaching methods? The Language Learning and Language Teaching specialisation of the Bachelor’s in Communication and Information Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam focuses on the phenomenon of language in all its different facets.
  • Language and Media; What effect does a multilingual policy have on an international company? How can safety instructions be optimised for construction workers whose first language is not English? What makes a company communicate through Twitter rather than Facebook? During the Language and Media specialisation, you learn in an international setting that good communication is about more than just correct spelling and careful language use.
  • Literature and Society; How does literature bring about social change? How does our visual culture influence the way we read text, and vice versa? How is our sense of identity shaped by language and by narrative? Throughout the Literature and Society Bachelor’s programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you will ask all these questions and many more and will learn how to challenge the culture around you.
  • Media, Art, Design and Architecture; Is Instagram the new museum? Is living in a tiny house hip or sustainable? How are designers and artists dealing with an increasingly mediated and globalized world? Pursue a bachelor’s degree in Media, Art, Design and Architecture (MKDA-EN) at VU Amsterdam and study the significance and contested histories of images, objects and environments. Media, art, design, and architecture cannot be understood in isolation from each other or outside of the contexts in which they appear.
  • Philosophy; What do we really know? Does the world really work the way we think it does? In what does just differ from unjust? During your Bachelor of Philosophy study, you will learn to inquire into reality by asking fundamental questions on topical themes. You will develop a critical perspective on science, religion, and society. You can follow the Bachelor of Philosophy in either English or Dutch. If this is your second study programme, you can opt for the abbreviated version.


  • Law in Society; How can the law pave the way for a sustainable future? And how is the law sometimes used to prevent it? Is terrorism a matter for international criminal law or international security law – or both? And what’s a lawyer’s moral responsibility in these cases? The programme centres around four themes that are hyper relevant in today’s society: security, globalisation of marketsmigration and sustainability. You will address each theme at both global and local levels, from different legal perspectives, using relevant social sciences tools and research methodologies. 

Faculty of Social Sciences

  • Communication Sciences; During the Bachelor of Communication Science programme at VU Amsterdam, you will study communication on topics such as vaccination, privacy, climate change, and the influence of social media on a person’s self-image. Together with your fellow students, you will work on national and international issues related to communication, and contribute actively to good communication by organisations and companies.
  • Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology; During the bachelor’s programme in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at VU Amsterdam, you will study universal topics such as migration, globalisation, inequality and religion. Together with your fellow students from near and far, you will work on local and global anthropological issues and will contribute to solutions to contemporary problems.
  • Philosophy, Politics, and Economics; You will tackle societal issues from multiple perspectives, using multiple disciplines. For example, approaching climate change from a political and an economic perspective, or examining issues that monopolies create through an economic lens and an ethical lens. Teaching is done mostly through seminars: in small groups, you will debate the big questions, look at how policies are applied, and critically discuss the outcomes. Through studying PPE at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam you will cover not just core courses in the three disciplines, but you will also learn to apply those disciplines to challenging social themes like climate change, welfare policies, ethics of markets, or the formation of political coalitions. Plus, you will master mathematical theories and methods in order to improve your analytical thinking. 
  • Political Science: Global Politics; Help others to understand society. What are the effects of Brexit on the EU? How does fake news influence the political debate? Is the USA still the leading world power, or is it ceding its position to China? As a political scientist, you want to change the world and help others to understand society better. You closely follow shifting power relationships in Europe and the rest of the world, and are interested in their underlying causes, such as technological developments and climate change. Unlike at other universities, in your first year at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam you study a combination of public administration and national and international politics. This gives you not only a broad foundation, but also ample freedom of choice. The programme has a small-scale setup, with highly engaged lecturers and a close-knit student community. In the Global Politics programme, you are exposed to diverse viewpoints, experiences and cultures, giving you a broader field of vision. You learn to reflect on your own opinions, assumptions and the things you consider ‘common sense’. As befits a future political scientist, you also pay attention to developing your debating and presentation skills. By working together with students and lecturers from programmes such as Sociology, Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology, and Governance & Organizational Sciences, you will become familiar with multiple perspectives.

Master Programs

For master programs, VU Amsterdam have more or less 150 programs which are taught in English with the following faculties:

  • Science
  • Behavioural and Movement Science
  • Schoola of Business and Economics
  • Religion and Technology
  • Humanities
  • Medicine
  • Law
  • Social Sciences

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