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Leiden University Excellence Scholarship (LExS)

For excellent students joining a full-time Leiden University Master's degree programme - with the exception of LLM (non-advanced) and MSc programmes at Leiden Law School.

1 Feb for programmes starting 1 Sept / 1 Oct for programmes starting 1 Feb
Target group
Countries/ nationalities
Non-EEA/non-EFTA students / Exception: All nationalities for Advanced LLMs & MSc Int. Relations and Diplomacy
Scholarship type
Archaeology, Humanities, Medicine/LUMC, Governance and Global Affairs, Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Science, African Studies Centre, International Institute for Asian Studies

For whom

1. Study programme requirements

Applicants for all Master's programme at Leiden University, with the exception of :

  • Leiden Law School's LLM (non-advanced) and MSc programmes.
  • Study programmes starting in February at the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences and Leiden Law School.

2. Nationality requirements

Applicants must have a non-EEA/non-EFTA* passport, and may not be eligible for student finance via the Dutch government (Studiefinanciering) – with the exceptions of students applying for the programmes listed below for which no nationality restrictions apply:

  • All LLM Advanced Studies programmes
  • MSc in International Relations and Diplomacy

*EEA/EFTA: All EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

Additional note for UK students

As the UK is now a non-EEA country, students from the UK are now eligible to apply for the LExS. Note: this does not apply to applicants who were already living in The Netherlands and registered in their Dutch municipality's BRP before 1 January 2021. More information on Brexit can be found in the Brexit dossier.

3. Academic requirements

Students must have achieved excellent academic results in their previous study programme(s), which must be relevant to the Master's programme for which they are applying. As an indication, the student is amongst the top 10% of graduates in his/her previous study programme. Note that proof of ranking is not required – this information is purely to indicate the level of competitiveness


Students who are granted a LExS must comply with, and confirm in writing, their agreement with the Terms and conditions attached to the scholarship prior to the awarding of the scholarship.


  • Scholarships cannot be awarded to applicants who have already obtained a Leiden University Master’s degree, with the exception of students applying for a Master programme for which a specified previous Master programme or work experience is mandatory (e.g. LLM Advanced Studies programmes).
  • Scholarships cannot be awarded to students who will follow: 
    • an LLM (non-advanced) or MSc programme at Leiden Law School, or
    • a study programme starting in February at the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences or Leiden Law School.
  • Scholarships cannot be awarded to students who do not meet the nationality requirements stated above.
  • It is not possible to combine the LExS with another full scholarship from an external provider. Students are obliged to notify the scholarships department if they receive a full scholarship from another source.  In some circumstances, the LExS may be combined with a partial scholarship from an external provider. Contact the Scholarships Team for further details.  

Scholarship or loan amount

The LExS is awarded for the duration of the study programme. There are three available levels of awards:

  • € 10,000 of the tuition fee
  • € 15,000 of the tuition fee
  • Total tuition fee minus the statutory tuition fee

The LExS is not a full scholarship. Non-EEA LExS recipients must still submit ‘proof of sufficient funds’ for their student visa/residence permit application.

Application process

  1. Apply online for admission to a Master's programme at Leiden University and pay the application fee if applicable. 
    • Note: it can take up to 2 days to create/submit an application for admission, so start your application well before the LExS deadline. 
  2. After submitting your application for admission, return to the Apply screen in your online application and click on Scholarships. If you are eligible to apply for the LExS, it will now be visible in the scholarships section.
    • Note: if you cannot see the LExS in your scholarships section, you have either not yet submitted your application for admission or are not eligible for the LExS.
  3. Indicate that want to apply for the LExS then upload your LExS motivation letter. This must be a PDF file of max. 500 words, in which you explain why you would like to be considered for the award.
  4. Submit your scholarship application before the LExS deadline. Please be aware that after submitting your scholarship application, you cannot make changes to it either online or by sending additional items by email.
  5. If you are applying for more than one study programme/specialisation and wish to apply for a LExS for each, you must submit a LExS application and motivation letter within each separate online application for admission.

Late applications

Late scholarship applications will not be considered. It is the responsibillity of the student to make sure they create/submit both their application for admission and their application for a scholarship before the LExS deadline.  

Selection process

  • The faculty selection committees will nominate their LExS recipients within 6 weeks of the LExS deadline. 
  • All applicants will receive an email notifying them whether they have been awarded a LExS:  
    • At the end of November (for programmes starting in February)
    • At the end of April (for study programmes starting in September)


The student is responsible for submitting a complete application, according to the steps described above and before the aforementioned deadline. Leiden University cannot be held responsible for late and/or incomplete applications.


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