Master in Law: International Migration and Refugee Law


Program Description

Application deadline update

  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 May (the original deadline of 1 April has been extended due to COVID-19)
  • EU/EEA students and students who do not need a study visa/residence permit through VU Amsterdam*: 1 June (the original deadline of 1 May has been extended due to COVID-19)

Refugees from the Syrian Civil War who have escaped warfare are subsequently forced to navigate urgent and complex legal issues. A Filipino mother seeking reunification with her family in Europe faces similar obstacles. Both are confronted with the inter-relationships between humanitarian and human rights law, and the interactions between international and domestic legal systems.

International migration and refugee law must be therefore be analyzed from a multitude of angles and disciplines. This specialization studies international migration from the perspective of international and European law, and focuses on how they function in domestic legal orders.

The interplay between international, European and domestic law is a specific focus of this specialization and enables you to understand and analyze the complexity of the key issues of contemporary International Migration and Refugee Law.

Study programme

International Migration and Refugee Law is a full-time, one-year specialization of the LLM master's programme at VU Amsterdam.

Refugee and Family Migration Law
Legal Remedies for Migrants
These in-depth courses are given by prominent specialists in the field. They will address topical issues, which relate closely to research carried out at VU Amsterdam.

Irregular Migration
This elective course reflects the research done at VU Amsterdam on the human rights aspects of irregular migration in the Mediterranean.

Philosophy of International Law and Migration
This integration course analyses topical issues of migration and refugee law on a conceptual and philosophical level. It will enable you to critically engage with the fundamental presumptions that constitute migration law.

Migration Law Clinic
Write tailored legal advice for lawyers in the context of real cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union under supervision of the researchers of the migration law section.

Career prospects

Graduates work in the numerous international (non-governmental) organizations involved in migration, e.g. UNHCR, IOM, the European Commission, EASO and Frontex. As international and national law on migration are profoundly intertwined, solid knowledge of international migration and refugee law is also most valuable for national institutions and organizations dealing with migration law, such as migration law firms, the judiciary, national and local governments or NGOs.

As migration law is particularly complex and intertwined with other areas of international law, you will also be perfectly well-suited for careers outside migration law, but still requiring profound insight in the most basic principles and workings of international and European law.

Why VU Amsterdam?

  • This specialization is unique as it is taught by leading academics in the field, and is embedded in one of the largest specialised research groups in migration law worldwide
  • The Faculty of Law of VU Amsterdam is distinctive in having legal, empirical and philosophical approaches to migration and refugee law, all in one joint research programme. This approach allows a broad, and at the same time in-depth, analysis of transnational legal issues
  • Students can design their own programme in line with their personal preferences: international law, European law, and domestic law; human rights, and labour and social rights; practical, academic, theoretical and empirical approaches
  • You can combine this master’s specialization with another specialization within the LLM programme at VU Amsterdam, such as Transnational Legal Studies or Dutch Constitutional and Administrative Law
  • The Netherlands has a large and active community of professionals working in the field of migration and refugee law including academics, lawyers, judges, and those who work for the Immigration Service, the Ministry of Security and Justice, and NGOs. This provides many opportunities to participate in meetings and seminars on migration law topics outside the regular study programme, or to do an internship.
  • Amsterdam encompasses 177 nationalities. This makes it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Therefore, Amsterdam is a most appropriate place to study international migration and refugee law.
  • Life in Amsterdam is affordable in comparison with some other large European cities.
  • There is an easy and fast procedure for obtaining a student visa for the Netherlands
  • After you have completed your master’s programme, you can apply for a residence permit in the Netherlands for the purpose of searching a job (for a maximum of one year)

Admission requirements

Applicants with a Bachelor's or equivalent degree in Law can apply. To be admitted you need permission from the Admissions Board.

Your bachelor education is compared to and valued through the UK Naric comparison system and, if necessary, through the Nuffic comparison and validation programmes. Especially students from non-EU countries should factor in the possibility that an international Bachelor’s degree in Law proves insufficient to enroll in this Master's in Law programme.

If you have an academic degree which is relevant for the specialization you wish to pursue, you may also be eligible for enrollment. You must have knowledge of and insight into at least one area of law to at least the level of the end-terms of the VU Law bachelor, and be able to prove this with at least 60 EC in completed courses in law or knowledge and experience in the field of law equivalent to this. This is determined by the Admissions Board.

Your bachelor education is compared to and valued through the UK Naric comparison system and, if necessary, through the Nuffic comparison and validation programmes.

Find out if you are eligible before you apply?
Ask the Admissions board (contact details under 'Contact').

Send us the following documents:

  • scan diploma or proof of enrollment in bachelor
  • scan (provisional) transcript(s)
  • description of the relevant courses
  • optional: report on relevant experience, including specification of your responsibilities
  • specify which specialization you wish to pursue

Admission on the basis of a degree from a University of Applied Sciences in not possible.

For the English specializations, your English proficiency must be on at least C1 level (including for speaking and writing skills) to be able to attend the programme successfully.

Please note: additional language requirements may apply for your visa or residence permit.

Overview Law: International Migrations and Refugee Law.

  • Language of instruction: English
  • Duration: 1 year
  • Application deadline: 1 June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.
  • Start date: 1 September
  • Study type: Full-time
  • Field of interest: Economics, Business and Law

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,00 ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Curious about student life at VU Amsterdam? Click here to ask our International Student Ambassadors. Read less