University of Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam (Dutch: Universiteit van Amsterdam) is a comprehensive research university located in the heart of the city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. With over 28,000 students and around 5,000 staff, the UvA is one of the major universities in Europe. There are seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioral sciences, Economy, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. It has a strong internationalization programme and offers over 85 English Master programmes taught in English, as well as a number of Dutch and English language courses. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) should not be confused with Amsterdam's second university, the VU University. In 2006, the UvA joined the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The universities work together to invest in European 'centres of excellence', with the aim of maintaining Europe's strong position in the global knowledge economy.


The commonly-held predecessor of the University of Amsterdam, the Athenaeum Illustre (Latin - the illustrious Athenaeum) was founded in the 14th-century Agnietenkapel in Amsterdam in 1632, to educate students in History and Philosophy. Professors lectured publicly and tutored privately. In January 1632 two internationally acclaimed scholars, Caspar Barlaeus and Gerardus Vossius, held their inaugural speeches here. In the course of the seventeenth century, Law, Medicine and Theology were introduced in the curriculum. Alumni (whilst it was still the Athenaeum) include Cornelis Petrus Tiele.

The Athenaeum remained a small institution until the nineteenth century, with no more than 250 students and eight teachers. This situation changed only slowly. In 1815 the Athenaeum Illustre was officially recognised as an institute of higher education. In 1877, Athenuem Illustre is reorganised to become the university of the municipality of Amsterdam. It became the Gemeentelijke Universiteit van Amsterdam (GU or 'Municipal University') and it received the right to confer doctoral degrees.

The professors were appointed by the city council and the mayor presided over the university administration. Because the Amsterdam city council was noted for its progressive politics this scheme guaranteed a large degree of intellectual freedom for the university.

Very little then changed until 1961, when the national government took control of financial responsibility. The university ceased to be the Gemeentelijke Universiteit and finally became the Universiteit van Amsterdam.

In 1969 the university became nationwide news when the university's administrative center at the Maagdenhuis was occupied by students who wanted more democratic influence. During the seventies and eighties the university was often the target of nationwide student actions.


The University of Amsterdam has seven faculties which conduct education and research in the humanities, social and behavioural sciences, economics and business, law, science, medicine and dentistry. Each faculty is headed by a dean. Education and research take place in a variety of departments and institutes within the faculties. Each faculty also has a central services department which is responsible for its operational management.

Faculty of Dentistry

Faculty of Economics and Business

Faculty of Humanities

Faculty of Law

Faculty of Medicine

Faculty of Science

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The UvA aims to offer an inspiring, broadly-oriented international academic environment where both staff and students can develop their capacities optimally. The UvA is characterised by a critical, creative and international atmosphere, and is open-minded and strongly engaged with society. Because the UvA is located in both historic and modern buildings spread throughout Amsterdam, the University forms an integral part of the city.

University of Amsterdam ranked 49th in the 2009 THES-QS World University Ranking

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The roots of education are bitter, but the fruits is sweet ~ Aristotle

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world ~ Nelson Mandela

Education is not a preparation for life, Education is life itself ~ John Dewey
William Butler Yeats: Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.