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Academic Requirements

ISS programmes are intensive and demanding. To ensure that participants will be able to complete the programme successfully ISS has set strict admission criteria, in terms of academic background, knowledge of English, motivation and work experience.


Education programme

Academic Background

Work Experience

Knowledge of English


MA programme

Bachelors degree in one of the social sciences or equivalent, comprising at least three years studies at a recognized university or institute of higher education.

Applicants must have obtained at least class 2.2 (Lower Second), B or equivalent, but preferably class 2.1 (Upper Second), B+ or equivalent.


Professional experience relevant to the Major which the applicant wishes to study is normally expected and is a preference for admission.


Same requirements for all programmes

TOEFL score: for the paper test (PBT) 580;

for the computer-based test (CBT) 237;

for the internet test (IBT) 92

Please note that we do not accept TOEFL ITP.

IELTS score: 6.5 overall for the Academic Test

ISS does not require a language certificate from native English speakers from the following countries:

Australia, Botswana, Canada, Cameroon (English-speaking region), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda (English-speaking region), South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

As of 1 July 2014, there will be new language requirements for PhD students:

IELTS: 7.0





Applicants from India with a BA degree from a four or five star university, as detemined by the NAAC are admissible. Other Indian applicants, as well as applicants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan are required to have an MA degree.


PhD programme

Masters degree in one of the social sciences.

Applicants must have obtained at least class 2.1, B+ or equivalent as determined by the Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic).


A carefully presented research proposal (an outline of the applicants intended research). Please check the PhD programme for more information and examples.


Postgratuage certificate courses

Bachelors degree or equivalent (three years minimum university study) in one of the social sciences.

Professional experience relevant to the course.





TOEFL and IELTS can send your test information directly to ISS:

  • TOEFL: The ISS Institution Code is 9714 and the Department Code is 01.
  • IELTS: The ISS Scheme Code is 9714.
  • Certain other tests, such as ALIGU and Michigan, are also recognized and should show equivalent results (minimum 80%)

Chinese applicants are advised to take the IELTS test due to visa requirements for the Netherlands.

The ISS reserves the right to reject other certificates of English proficiency that cannot be readily established as equivalent to IELTS or TOEFL.

Your application can be assessed without the results of your English test. If accepted, you will receive a conditional admission letter, which you can use to apply for a fellowship (not applicable for NFP). Once your test results have been received, if they are sufficient, you will receive a formal (unconditional) admission letter. Satisfactory test scores must be received before you start your programme at ISS.


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