Your application for an American university will take quite some time. It is important to be well prepared before you start. You can use the timeline below as a general guideline. If you want to follow a Master’s program or PhD program in the US, you will need to start preparing at least a year before your intended start date.

Twelve months in advance
  • Consider what you value most about your future university and find out if there are any ways to make your plans financially feasible.
  • Contact professors at your current university and ask them if they know which American universities offer the most highly rated programs in your field. See if there are any professors in the US that you can contact.
  • Make a selection of universities based on their programs, professors, and scientific staff connected to the faculty, the institution’s classification, the programs it offers, the costs, location, size, etc.
  • Visit the university websites for more information on the application process and deadlines. Also ask them how you can qualify for any potential financial support. Don’t forget to make a timeline with all the important deadlines.
  • Find out if you are required to take any standardized tests (GRE or GMAT), and don’t forget to sign up on time.
  • Make sure to take your English Proficiency test during these months. Usually this test will be the TOEFL, but some schools also accept the IELTS.


  • Create an academic transcript in English and ask your Dutch education institution to authenticate it.
  • Make sure you have literal English translations of all diplomas you’ve acquired thus far, and have your Dutch school authenticate them.
  • Ask at least three people to write a recommendation letter for you.
  • Submit your application for financial support at American universities and independent foundations. Keep in mind that these deadlines close early.
  • Make sure your application for the university is submitted long before the deadline. Most universities start accepting applications on August 1.
  • Most deadlines for early applications close on December 1.


January – April
  • If you have not heard from the universities you applied to, you can contact them and inquire if they have received your full application.
  • Regular deadlines close around March 1. It is recommended to submit your application before this date.
  • Universities will let you know whether you’re accepted in March.


April – July
  • Choose the one university you wish to attend and inform all institutions of your decision. The national reply dates are around May 15th.
  • Your university will send you more information about housing options and the required vaccinations and insurance.
  • Once you managed to prove that you can shoulder the costs of the program and the accompanying housing, your university will send you the necessary visa documents.


August – September
  • Start of the program. Most universities have an orientation period between mid-August and early September.