Medicine in the Netherlands

Medicine in the Netherlands is taught differently than in the United Kingdom, both in terms of the approach to the subject and the timeline to qualification. While a Dutch medical degree will be afforded the same respect as one from a British medical school (GMC recognition is not a problem although Brexit might change this), the way in which students are educated means that transferring between the two countries midway through your studies will be almost impossible.

The route to qualification as a doctor in general practice in the Netherlands consists of three main phases:

  • BSc in medicine (3 years)
  • MSc in medicine (an additional 3 years)
  • Training (one year)

The first three years can be taught in English at Dutch universities but only two have this option and very few of the places are available to international students. The University of Groningen offers two BSc degrees in medicine, one in global health, the other in molecular medicine. Maastricht University has a similar programme in English. All of these degrees would constitute the first step to becoming a doctor. While these degrees are taught in English it is imperative that you learn Dutch alongside your other studies; Dutch language is an integral part of the degree and you must pass exams in the language if you are to graduate.

The Dutch language is not just important for when you are dealing with patients. It is necessary because you cannot complete the MSc phase of your studies in English anywhere. There are Masters degrees in medical research and technology that are taught in English but these are not designed for you to qualify as a doctor. An example of such a degree would be the MSc in Medical Biology at Radboud University.

The final training year requires future doctors to work in Dutch hospitals and here, communication in the Dutch language will be of vital importance.

A further complication is that tuition fees for non-EU nationals are significantly higher for medicine at around €32,000 per year instead of €2,168 (2021/22) for EU nationals. This is close to the price international students pay to study medicine in the UK. British nationals will have to pay the higher fees post-Brexit as things currently stand.

In summary, studying medicine in the Netherlands is possible but can only be done partly in English. You would need to commit to not just learning Dutch but studying in Dutch.

The entry requirements are high as the universities are not struggling to recruit. Deadlines are earlier than for other subjects (typically 15th January) and because medicine is subject to Numerus Fixus, you can only apply to one university at a time. Admission for British students is made even harder by the fact that you will have to have studied maths, physics, biology and chemistry until the end of school, ie to A' level. If you haven't done that, you will need to take an exam in the Netherlands to demonstrate competency in these subjects. For each subject that you need, you will probably have to allow between 200 and 300 hours of self-study before you are ready to take the exam.

The Netherlands is unlikely to be the answer if you are looking to study medicine abroad. In fact, we are far more likely to help Dutch students find medical schools abroad than we are to help international students get a place at Dutch medical schools. There are a number of more likely options in Europe and you can find information about these on the Study Medicine Abroad page of our A Star Future website. We can also point you in the direction of options in Italy or Croatia.

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About Study In Holland is an information service designed to assist British and Irish students in pursuing their university education in the Netherlands.

We have extensive knowledge of English-taught degrees in Holland and we also work with careers advisory services. is owned by A Star Future Ltd and is not affiliated with the Dutch government.