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Gerrit Rietveld Academie

Netherlands Netherlands




Gerrit Rietveld Academy (GRA) is a bold, exciting art school in Amsterdam. It’s the perfect place for anyone with talent and passion who wants to study an arts programme in a small, welcoming student community, and especially ideal for anyone who loves the sound of student life in the beautiful Netherlands. Students from all backgrounds (international and domestic, old and young) can fit in at GRA. Every type of artist is welcome.


GRA is small, with only around 850 learners on site each year. It’s also very open to international students, and around 60 per cent of the students come from outside the Netherlands. There’s a real focus, at this institution, on values of community, collaboration and practical learning. The kind of learning that prepares students for the professional world. There are lots of student-led events run throughout the year to reflect these values.


Teaching at GRA is highly specialised and hands-on. There are around 200 tutors to fewer than 1,000 students, so courses are small and friendly, and peer groups grow close quickly. Learners get to know all the other students well, and they also get the chance to have a lot of input about their learning experience, as well as a lot of mentorship from their lecturers and tutors.


All GRA faculty are professional, practising artists and designers who give their expertise to their students. There are also regular talks and demonstrations from guest lecturers, including successful GRA alumni who have gone on to do amazing things.


Across all programmes, students at GRA are encouraged to be independent, following their own interests and values. There’s only one bachelor’s degree on offer, but students can specialise across the 12 different GRA departments. Postgraduates can then choose between five permanent programmes and a range of temporary courses.


Every student has access to workshop spaces and studios, professional machinery and tools, and physical and digital resources. Whatever they need to create the art they want to create, it will be given to them. GRA encourages and supports student ideas as much as possible, and outside-the-box thinking is never frowned upon.


Students lucky enough to study at this academy will live and learn in Amsterdam, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Amsterdam is home to thousands of other students, exciting nightlife options and lots of great culture. It’s very diverse and welcoming of people with an international background, as well as benefitting from good public transport links and canalside cycle routes.


Teaching Quality


Prospective students will often want to make sure the university they’re applying for offers a high standard of teaching quality. Studying for a degree takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. It’s sensible for potential future students to make sure the institution they are interested in has a reputation for high-quality teaching, and in the case of GRA, this reputation is very much real.


This institution is a special place to learn, with bold creative values and a commitment to quality teaching across all courses. Students who graduate from GRA don’t have anything bad to say about their time at the academy. Usually, they feel that they were given everything they needed to succeed at school and in their professional careers after graduation. This is why so many alumni return to offer guest lectures to current students.


The philosophy that guides the quality teaching at GRA is unique and innovative, putting the focus on creating an open and flexible learning environment. Students are encouraged to be independent, but they are also advised and offered expertise when it’s needed.


Potential applicants looking for proof of the teaching quality at GRA just need to look at some of the alumni it has produced. Many of the top artists and designers in the Netherlands studied at the academy, including Jan des Bouvrie, Robbert Dijkgraaf and Ben van Berkel. Former GRA students can be found doing very well across the fields of art and design. Lecturers are also highly successful experts in their fields.


Entry Requirements


GRA is a highly respected institute with a unique educational style. To make sure students looking to gain university qualifications are up to its standard, the academy has several university entry requirements. Entry is highly competitive, with only about 25 per cent of the roughly 1,000–1,100 applicants each year accepted. If students want to study at GRA, they need to make sure they meet the entry requirements the academy has provided on its website.


For those hoping to enrol in a bachelor’s programme, there are two university requirements to remember. Undergraduate applicants need to have completed their high school education/their equivalent, holding a qualification equal to level four of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). They must also provide a portfolio of their artistic work. There are no minimum grade requirements. Instead, all applicants are individually considered and assessed.


The university entry requirements for those hoping to study for a master’s at GRA’s Sandberg Institute are similar. They must either have a relevant bachelor’s degree or extensive professional experience. They will also have to provide a portfolio and a personal statement. GRA assesses candidates on artistic skills and interviews more than anything else. Applicants should check their portfolios carefully and prepare well for interviews to maximise their chances.


English Score Required


Though it’s based in the Netherlands, GRA is an internationally focused college. Classes are delivered in English, and students are expected to have a good understanding of the language. If they don’t meet the minimum required standard, they won’t be considered for admission. Learners need to be able to speak, read and write in English throughout their studies. To ensure they have a good understanding of the language, GRA requires applicants to prove their English proficiency. There are three ways to do this.


Firstly, if applicants can provide a high school diploma from a country where English is the primary language, they are assumed to have a good enough understanding of the language. Secondly, if applicants are from Europe and have English as an exam subject on their high school/secondary diploma, this is also good enough and accepted as proof of proficiency.


Thirdly, candidates who can’t provide these forms of evidence will have to complete an English proficiency test and submit the results along with their portfolio. The only testing method accepted by GRA is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The minimum overall band score required for both undergraduate and postgraduate students is 6. Applicants providing an IELTS score should check on the GRA website to make sure their test is recent enough to be accepted, and proficiency evidence should be submitted as early as possible when applying.




GRA cares about its student community, and its high standards serve the students as much as they serve the university’s reputation. To maintain these, the academy is very selective about the applicants it offers a place to. It has an intensive and competitive university admission process that all candidates must go through. Fortunately, there are some detailed guides covering what to expect on the university website, so applicants don’t have to go in blind.


The undergraduate admission process has two stages. The first stage depends on the applicant’s country of origin. Candidates from within the EU/EEA must attend a consultation interview. This is 30 minutes long and involves candidates sharing their work and answering questions from a tutor. Candidates from outside the EU/EEA will need to submit a portfolio online.


Guidance on the work the academy wants to see in student portfolios is found on its website. Candidates should research this carefully and make sure they are tailoring their portfolios to maximise their chances of success.


Candidates from all countries and backgrounds who pass this stage move onto the second stage of the student admission process: an entrance exam. The exact details of the exam are published by the academy each year. Previous years’ exams have involved questionnaires and home assignments.


Postgraduate applicants have their own university admission process at GRA. After registering with the Sandberg Institute, they are invited to submit a motivation letter and examples of their artwork. If these are accepted, applicants are then invited to an interview.


If candidates at either level of study pass all stages, they will receive an offer of admission from GRA. They can then proceed through further stages, such as applying for a residence permit and paying the required tuition fees.


Scholarships & Funding


Students at GRA have to pay some fees to the university. These go toward things like facilities, and wages for staff. University fees, however, aren’t the only costs a student might encounter. Essential art materials and study trips at GRA must be paid for by students, with the academy estimating yearly costs for these things being between EUR 800 and 1,100.


Since GRA is a specialist institution, it is permitted to charge higher tuition fees than other Dutch universities. These are still very reasonable, however, making funding easy for many potential students. For 2022–2023, students with EU/EEA, Swiss or Surinamese nationality who are studying for a bachelor’s or master’s for the first time will need to cover tuition fees of EUR 2,706 per year. Other international students and those holding a previous degree will need to cover tuition fees of EUR 6,552 per year (for both bachelor’s and master’s programmes). Fees change each year.


GRA does not offer scholarships directly to students. Students from outside the EEA are encouraged to apply for the Holland Scholarship, awarded by the Dutch government. To be eligible, applicants must be entering the first year of their studies and cannot have a degree from another institution in the Netherlands.


If a student wins a Holland Scholarship, they will receive EUR 5,000 in their first academic year. Some other institutions offer university scholarships to people wanting to study in the Netherlands, and details of these can be found online on various databases.


The government also offers funding help to some students. Students with EU/EEA, Swiss, or Surinamese nationality can enjoy reduced fees in their first year, paying only EUR 1,602 for the year. Some international students can also get loans through DUO. With low fees and funding help available, studying at GRA is surprisingly possible for a wide variety of students from different financial backgrounds.


University Structure


GRA has one site in Amsterdam, housing all administrative and teaching facilities across its three buildings. There are about 200 teaching staff at the academy. Every lecturer works part-time, as they are all practising designers or artists outside the school. This ensures that students are all taught by experts with up-to-date information and understanding, so teaching quality is never anything but high.


Teaching at GRA is delivered in a unique structure. There is a total of one bachelor’s programme and five master’s programmes. Undergraduates all study for a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and design, spending year one in the Basicyear department getting a foundational education in art and design. After year one, they can specialise and access other departments at the school, including:


  • Architectural Design
  • Ceramics
  • DesignLAB
  • Fashion
  • Fine Arts
  • Graphic Design
  • Image and Language
  • Jewellery — Linking Bodies
  • The Large Glass Department
  • Photography
  • Textile
  • VAV — Moving Image


Graduate students study at the Sandberg Institute. Each of the five departments here offers its own course and has lots of dedicated workshop space and all the facilities required for students to succeed. Learners enter their course of choice directly, with no foundation year. The permanent departments at the Sandberg Institute are:


  • The Critical Studies Department
  • The Design Department
  • The Dirty Art Department
  • The Fine Arts Department
  • The Studio for Immediate Spaces




Teaching at GRA is hands-on, and students shouldn’t expect to spend hours in the lecture theatre. Instead, classes are small and practical work is encouraged. There are 22 workshops at the school that cover every discipline on offer. These are all equipped with the tools and resources learners need to create and innovate during their time at the academy. Specific machines and facilities are bookable online, meaning students can access resources at the times they need them.


Further student recreation centres include a library at the school that contains a huge collection of specialist texts and books. Alongside this, the library also runs a variety of events designed to enhance student lives and studies.


The GRA is all at one site in Amsterdam, spread across three beautiful buildings. The GRA is a single large student life centre, and everything is easily accessible, from conventional classrooms and the large assembly hall to specialist spaces and administrative staff.


Students are encouraged to socialise and collaborate in many ways at GRA, and the Rietveld Pavilion is something of a student activity centre between and after classes, hosting a variety of events from art exhibits to group meals. There are also plenty of student groups at the school covering a range of interests. If learners want to change things at the academy or set up something new, the Student Council is there to support them in that as well.




GRA offers no university accommodation for students. The academy site is small and fully occupied with teaching buildings. International students may be able to access some accommodation through the school, but this is only on a temporary basis. Everyone attending the school will have to find their own student house or other accommodation in or around Amsterdam.


Amsterdam is a very popular city for students. This means the student accommodation market is very competitive, and those with a university place are encouraged to look for a student house as soon as possible. It also means that there are lots of typical student accommodation options, including halls operated by private companies like Student Experience and DUWO. Rooms are typically fully furnished and offer access to facilities like a laundromat and on-site gym.


Most students in Amsterdam will find an independent student house somewhere in the city. Agencies like Studentenwoningweb and ROOM offer this kind of student accommodation, and it’s usually provided based on a waiting list, so it’s important to register as soon as possible (potentially before students have a place confirmed at GRA!). There are also private options that can be found online.


Student Support


GRA offers lots of helpful student services to learners, including everything from academic advice to mental health student support programmes. One of the best student support services is the mentor system. A mentor is a student guide, giving the student they’re assigned the answers to their questions and worries, especially academic questions and worries.


Mentors create bonds with the students they work with, regularly speaking to them, so students can learn to feel comfortable being honest with them. They won’t be ignored by their mentor, thanks in part to the great ratio of students to staff members. This means they will always have someone to talk to if something doesn’t go to plan or an unexpected question occurs to them.


There is also a counsellor available. This counsellor offers support that’s either too complex or too personal for a mentor to help with. They can help with administrative issues like legal regulations, tuition fees and the process associated with changing a student’s course of study mid-degree. They can also point learners in the right direction for things like mental health support, therapy and financial aid.


Graduate Outcomes


GRA students have gone on to achieve some impressive and important things after graduation, in fields from architecture to interior design. There is a well-connected alumni network and many former students of the academy turned professional artists and designers return to give guest lectures and advise current students as mentors/career guides.


Job prospects for graduates of the GRA can be harder to measure in the artistic industries, and outcomes depend on what graduates choose to do with their education. Still, since there are so many successful alumni, it’s clear that the institution is preparing its students well for their professional paths. Plus, a graduate’s ability to mention their degree from GRA will open some doors along the way, as the academy is highly respected in artistic fields.


GRA doesn’t just prepare students practically in the classroom. It offers a range of useful employment services, giving students the skills to start a professional career but also the skills to manage and organise that professional career. There are one-to-one career counselling appointments available, as well as employability workshops and career-boosting placements. Plus, learners have access to professional-standard artistic equipment, so they are familiar with certain things before starting work.


GRA’s career services also include lots of networking events and job fairs. For example, all graduating students will take part in an arts show that shows their work to the world and gives employers the chance to connect with it. There’s also a Future Market event. It’s impossible for a student to leave GRA without fully understanding their career options and feeling happy about their future path.

Subjects you can study at Gerrit Rietveld Academie

  • Architecture and Construction Architecture and Construction
  • Creative Arts and Design Creative Arts and Design
  • Social Studies and Media Social Studies and Media

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