Admission requirements

Comparing the American grading system with the Dutch equivalent can be tricky. American universities employ a holistic admission policy, which means that your institution will look beyond your grades and admission exam scores and also focus on your interests and activities. American universities value people who developed themselves on a personal level and appreciate social engagement through volunteering, extracurricular activities, and the development of your talents.

All universities differ in terms of admission guidelines, deadlines and application forms. Because admission can be highly selective, it might be beneficial to apply to more than one university. You can find an overview of the admission requirements and all necessary documents on the website of your institution. Check admissions of prospective students and look for information about graduate programs.

Most schools consider a number of criteria when determining whether someone is eligible for admission.


Educational background

International students applying to a graduate program need to have obtained the equivalent of an American high school diploma. Dutch students need to have obtained at least a havo, vwo, or mbo-diploma. An International Baccalaureate diploma (IB) will also suffice.


Academic skills

More selective universities also want to assess your academic knowledge and skills through your grades and admission exam scores (SAT/ACT). Make sure to be well-prepared for these tests and consider taking them more than once. You can find an overview of the average grades (GPA) and SAT/ACT scores of admitted students on your university’s website. The stronger your own academic profile compared to these averages, the higher your chances of admission and scholarships.


Extracurricular activities

American universities value students who show social commitments and actively participate in campus life. Certain universities offer a short description of the type of students they look for and the values they promote as an institution. The admissions committee looks at your application to see whether you and the university are a good match. Check to see if you are a good fit, and make sure to emphasize aspects of your background, activities and career goals that match the school’s profile. Some examples of activities to mention in your application are:

  • Work experience
  • Volunteer activities
  • Care for family members
  • Sports
  • School clubs
  • An interest in the arts
  • Hobbies