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Amsterdam for students

The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, has climbed three places this year to reach 24th in the world rankings, after seeing a huge 20 place rise in the student mix indicator.

The city also sees an improvement in the student view indicator, where it now ranks fifth in the world. This improvement reflects Amsterdam’s high quality of life, vibrant student community, and good ratings from graduate employers both locally and further afield. 

While Amsterdam doesn’t have the huge selection of high-ranking universities claimed by the likes of London and Paris, its flagship University of Amsterdam certainly holds its own, coming 64th in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

Amsterdam receives a very high score for desirability, reflecting its safety and high quality of life. It also prompts good reviews from many students, with one survey respondent praising the city’s lifestyle and inclusivity: “Amsterdam offers incredibly high living standards and is very open towards the LGBT community.” Another commented, “The city is very tolerant and full of art and culture, plus the nightlife is amazing.

Would Amsterdam get your vote? Tell us why.

Best universities in Amsterdam - QS Best Student Cities ranking: 24th

More about Amsterdam

Study in Amsterdam Overview

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

University of Amsterdam (ranked 64th)



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

Why study in Amsterdam?

Excellent quality of life

Being surrounded by the city’s history, culture and a great deal of cycling, Amsterdam’s residents enjoy an extremely high quality of life, with Amsterdam ranking fifth in the world for desirability this year.

Scenic city

The city’s canals, bikes and stunning architecture will make you feel like you’ve just walked onto a movie set. 

Plenty to do

Whether you fancy exploring the city in a canal cruise, attending one of Amsterdam’s many festivals, visiting one of the museums or looking round the flea markets, Amsterdam has plenty to entertain students.

High education standards

Amsterdam is home to the second-best university in the Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam, which ranks joint 61st this year in the world university rankings.

Cost of studying in Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s tuition fees cost approximately US$13,900 per year, which is more expensive than in cities in the UK and Italy, but less expensive than the US and Canada. 

The cost of living in Amsterdam isn’t cheap with a one-bedroom flat in the city center costing around €1,600 per month to rent (approximately US$1890). Compared to Delft in the Netherlands, consumer prices in Amsterdam are 37 percent higher.

As a result, Amsterdam ranks 114th in the world for affordability this year.

Life and culture in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a hugely popular tourist destination, known for its pretty canals, art scene (both historic and contemporary), café culture and generally laid-back and tolerant character.

As a student, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Amsterdam’s pleasanter delights: spend a day rummaging through a flea market, admiring the works of the great masters up-close, or discovering great new street art; head to the latest hot music venue, enjoy cycling beside the pretty waterways, or spend an afternoon (and evening) at your favorite café, catching up with friends.

The city ranks fifth in the world for desirability this year: a reflection of the friendly, welcoming atmosphere, the many tourist attractions and the high standard of living that those living in Amsterdam enjoy.

Career in Amsterdam

Plenty of international companies are now establishing themselves in Amsterdam, including Philips, ING and Heineken. It’s worth bearing in mind that finding a job in in Amsterdam can be extremely competitive, with lots of positions requiring previous experience in the field.

On the other hand, the city itself is buzzing with tourists, so if you’re looking for a career in hospitality, Amsterdam is the place for you. Other industries in Amsterdam also include IT, fashion, logistics financial and business services, and food.

If you come from a country in the EU, you won’t be required to have a work permit to stay in Amsterdam once you’ve completed your studies and can continue to live and work in the city.

However, If you’re a non-EU citizen looking to stay in Amsterdam after graduation, you’ll be required to obtain both a residence permit and a work permit, which you can find out more about here.

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Mohamed Y, Sanjay K & 26 others saved this
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Written by QS Staff Writer

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Ehh.. Amsterdam is definitely not the best student city of the Netherlands. It's not even a real "studentenstad".
Leiden, Utrecht and Groningen are the best cities to study in the Netherlands. They are full of students (national and international), good uni's and nice pubs and clubs. Also, the price of a house near a uni in Amsterdam is crazy expensive. It might be the first place people think of when they want to go to the Netherlands, but it is not the best place to study.

In many ways it is the best place to study. The cities you name are cosy cities, but neither of them offer the opportunities that Amsterdam have. Amsterdam is ranked for it's high quality education (UvA), it's living standards, the LGBT community and the work possibilities after studying. On top of that Amsterdam has a proper international environment. The fact that it is expensive is included in the ranking. However, what is expensive? Compared to London, Paris, NY, Miami, the cost for living in Amsterdam are close to zero.