Universiteit Leiden

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Comparative Criminal Justice (MSc)

Admission requirements

To be eligible for Comparative Criminal Justice at Leiden University, you must meet the following admission requirements.

In order to be considered for the Master programme Comparative Criminal Justice, you should possess (before the start of the programme) a Bachelor's degree in Criminology (BSc) or a bachelor’s degree in law (LL.B) or another discipline related to criminology and criminal justice from a recognised research university. Generally, social science degrees (e.g., international relations, sociology) are considered relevant, if the applicant can demonstrate an interest in criminal justice.

Please note: Students who start in February, start with the programme that is normally offered in the second semester.
We generally advise against starting in February, because the first semester (starting September) offers courses that introduce students to content and methods that are very helpful for understanding the material in the second semester. In particular, Comparative Criminal Justice Research Methods is offered to remedy any deficiencies in legal or empirical research methods.
For this reason, students who do not yet have a background in both criminal law and social science research methods cannot be admitted in February and must apply to start in September.

Check the Course and Examination Regulations (OER) and the admission requirements (Chapter 5) on this website.


You cannot be directly admitted! All students with any above mentioned Bachelor’s degree from a research University (completed before the starting date of the programme) must register via Studielink and apply for admission via the online application portal (uSis) before the deadline.

Applicants with a higher professional education (HBO) degree are not eligible for admission. They can only start in the first year of the bachelor’s programme.

  • proven English language proficiency, demonstrated by way of a TOEFL test (overall score of 100 Internet-based) or IELTS test (overall score of 7.0), or Cambridge English Proficiency certificate (CPE), evidenced by an appropriate test
  • in addition to the above-mentioned overall English test scores, minimum band scores of IELTS 6.0 (TOEFL 20) are required for all sub-sections.

You can apply to a programme before you obtain the results of your language exam (if you already have your results you can upload them directly in our online portal). If you are admitted, it will be on the condition that these results will meet the required levels specified.


Applicants may be offered admission to a one-month presessional English course prior to entry if they have the following English language test scores – this always at the discretion of the programme admission board:

  • An overall English score of IELTS 6.5 (TOEFL 90) – with no band scores lower than IELTS 5.5 (TOEFL 17)
  • A sufficient overall English score, but one or more band score of IELTS 5.5 (TOEFL 17)

For detailed information, including exemption criteria and methods of submission, refer to English language proficiency.

English tests accepted
Results may not be more than two years old! 

  • IELTS: academic modules only 
  • TOEFL: internet based
    • We do not accept TOEFL My Best ™ scores (multiple test scores combined). The sufficient score must be obtained in one individual test. Also not accepted are institutional tests such as ITP.
    • We are still awaiting a decision on whether Dutch universities can accept the TOEFL Special Home Edition™  for admission to the academic year 2021-2022. This information will be updated as soon as we know more.
  • Cambridge English Exam C2 Proficiency or C1 Advanced, depending on admission criteria

Please note: You do not have to submit proof of proficiency if you have completed your education in Canada (except French-taught programmes in Canada), USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia, or when you hold an International Baccalaureate, or for Dutch students, if you have completed VWO level English or an English taught bachelor at a Dutch Research University.

After each deadline, we review applications to determine the suitability of applicants for the programme. There is no limit on the number of MSc students admitted, but we wish to ensure a good match between students and the programme. In reviewing applications, the following criteria are employed:

Application: exceptional academic motivation; capacity for sustained and intense work; developed ability to organize time and set own agenda for study; intrepid attitude towards investigation and learning.

Knowledge: applicants will normally have advanced and integrated understanding of a subject relevant to criminology such as sociology, economics, politics, psychology, social policy, history or other discipline from the social sciences. Preference may be given to those who have studied some criminology, criminal justice, penology, criminal law or the sociology of deviance.

Reasoning ability: outstanding analytical abilities, the ability to separate speedily the relevant from the irrelevant, and the ability to develop and sustain complex arguments under pressure; capacities for accurate observation and insightful criticism, including willingness and ability to engage with other social science disciplines; originality and creativity of thought, open-mindedness, and capacity for lateral thinking; excellent powers of synthesis and economy of thought.

Communication: willingness and ability to express highly complex ideas clearly and effectively in English, with a particular eye to finesse and economy and an aspiration to professional standards of style and organization in scholarly writing.

Applicants should submit:

  • a sample of written work in English (preferably your bachelor’s thesis or a term paper).
  • a letter of motivation illustrating experience and interest in matters of Criminal Justice;
  • two letters of recommendation from current or previous professors and/or employers;
  • show documented evidence of relevant (work) experience, i.e., internships etc. – this information should be included in your curriculum vitae.

>> Go to the next step 2: Check the application deadlines

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