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Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) was founded in 1880 and is one of the top research universities in the Netherlands. There are over 23,000 students at VU and hundreds of courses taught entirely in English. There are many international students and faculty, creating a diverse and globally-minded learning environment. Some popular areas of study at VU are earth and life sciences, behavioral sciences, business, economics, social sciences, and humanities.VU was the first university in the Netherlands to be established without ties to the church or the state. This legacy is maintained as it still operates unconventionally, determining its own areas of research as well as creating unique study programs and specialized pedagogical models. VU encourages a student-centered teaching style where you will be given opportunities to develop your opinions through creative and critical thinking. All academic programs are housed at VU's main campus in the Zuid district, Amsterdam's business center. It is a beautiful, modern campus with student housing and many facilities including computer labs, fitness centers, a green office, and even a bike repair shop. The VU campus is well-connected to public transportation; it is only a 15 minute train ride to downtown and an eight minute train ride to Schiphol Airport.
Fall 1 2023
Mid Aug, 2023 - Late Dec, 2023
Apr 01, 2023
Forms and Payment Deadline
Apr 15, 2023
24 - 30 ECTS Credits
3.00 Minimum GPA*
- Apply Now
Study Abroad Program Description
In this interdisciplinary and academically rigorous program, you will have the opportunity to study alongside Dutch and other international students for a semester or full academic year at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). Course offerings are highly specialized, focusing on research methodology across various disciplines including earth and life sciences, business and economics, social sciences, and humanities.
VU's academic year is divided into six intensive "periods", or blocks, with the option to take two or three classes per period. Please find below the breakdown of these periods within ISA's program offerings*:
Fall 1: Periods 1-2 (Mid August - Mid December)
Spring 1: Periods 4-5 (Early February - Early June)
Academic Year: Periods 1-5 (Mid August - Early July)
*These are the general timelines for VU's respective periods, but they are subject to change from year to year. Exact program dates will appear on our website as they are confirmed by the host university.
All students will make course selections upon application to the program. This is a tentative selection, as enrollment is not confirmed until VU confirms that the stated pre-requisites have been met.
Enjoy Flexibility with ISA Flex
We’ve partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to help you overcome common study abroad challenges by adding an ASU Online course to your ISA program. With more than 2,100 courses to choose from, ISA Flex minimizes academic challenges, like major requirements and limited course options, so you can make the most of your experience abroad. Once you’ve applied, access the Flex form in your ISA Student Portal for more information on how to add this to your program and enroll in the course you need.
Students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.00.
MINIMUM ADMISSIONS PREREQUISITES
There is no language prerequisite for this program.
- You must hold a Sophomore standing or above during term of study.
- The following application materials are required to complete your application: valid passport copy, photo, VU application form. Please contact ISA if you expect any issue in receiving your passport before the application deadline.
Comprehensive Advising and Support
Comprehensive Health, Safety, and Security Support
Tuition at the Host University
Bridging Cultures Orientation
Full-Time Resident Staff
ISA Discovery Model
Official Transcript from the Host University
Professional Development Toolbox
24 - 30
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
12 - 15
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
18 - 22
Program end date:
- The last scheduled date of exams may be near the winter holidays, however, students are free to depart Amsterdam sooner if they do not have exams on this day.
- The Fall exam schedule tends to be available around July; please request the schedule from your ISA Amsterdam Program Manager if you would like to ensure that your exams will end prior to the winter holiday. You may adjust your course schedule through VU Amsterdam's add/drop period as needed.
- Should you wish to remain in your housing in Amsterdam through the winter holidays, please be in touch with ISA to formalize this request.
- The courses listed below are based off of last year’s course offerings and ISA will inform students of course updates as they become available.
- All students are required to indicate course selection upon application to the program. This is a tentative selection as all course eligibility will be determined by VU and there will be an add/drop period on-site.
- Additional upper division courses may be available.
- Students are expected to complete self-study hours every night in order to keep up with class material.
- Requests for detailed course descriptions can be made to the Amsterdam Program Manager.
- Eligibility for courses is dependent upon the fulfillment of the posted pre-requisites. Please note that local VU students are on an academic track very different than in the US; they do not take general education courses and are often at a higher level of study than their US counterparts within the same discipline.
- All course selections are dependent upon approval from VU.
- It is recommended that students take only two courses during the initial period of their time abroad, allowing more time to adapt to the differing academic structure and lifestyle.
- Students choosing the 1A programs should be especially mindful of the condensed academic structure, requiring flexibility with the differing academic culture and a highly disciplined study schedule.
- To avoid scheduling conflicts VU recommends that, whenever possible, students register for classes within the same faculty (department) during the same period.
- VU has identified various tracks, which they call minors, and are a combination of five related courses to be taken within one semester. Enrolling in a track will evade scheduling conflicts and ensure course continuity.
- The academic structure at VU is different than in the US with exams totaling up to 100% of final grade. Please consider each course’s assessment techniques as you make your course selection.
- Academic Year students will take courses in periods one through five. There may be the option to add a sixth period, please contact the Program Manager for more information.
- If you have not taken a Dutch language course before or do not have experience in the Dutch language, it is highly recommended for you to take the course Discover the Dutch.
Course Credit and Transcripts
- Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.
- ISA recommends 3 U.S. semester credits/4.5 quarter units for every 6 ECTS. Credit transfer is ultimately determined by the student's home university.
- Upon program completion, students will receive an official transcript issued by VU. The transcript will reflect ECTS credits for all courses taken.
- High-achieving students participating in this program may enroll in honor courses.
- These courses are smaller, more intensive, and discussion-based.
- Interested students will submit a motivation letter and must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and should reach out to the Amsterdam Program Manager.
- Requests for detailed course description can be made to the Amsterdam Program Manager.
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- Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Support & Funding
Funding Your ISA Program
Wondering how you’ll fund your program? ISA’s got you covered! If you receive financial aid for your home university, you will likely be able to use those funds for study abroad too. The first step is usually speaking with your home university. Check out the steps for using financial aid here.
Need to know how much to budget for a term abroad? Take a look at the additional expenses you might expect, depending on your program.
As an ISA participant, you have the opportunity to apply for scholarships and grants that can be applied directly to assist with your study abroad programs. We offer over $1,000,000 in scholarships and grants each year. To see what opportunities are available, visit the scholarships and grants page.View all Funding Options
Living in ISA housing will allow you the opportunity to experience aspects of the local lifestyle that are inaccessible to the average visitor. Regardless of your housing option, you may commute to your host university by public transportation or bike. Travel times to the various university buildings generally range between 35 and 50 minutes depending on housing and class locations. With an open and adaptable mind, the experience of living in another culture can be highly rewarding.
We strive to match your housing preferences with our available accommodations, however, housing preference requests cannot be guaranteed.
While in Amsterdam you'll be housed at a student residence. The location may vary but students will typically be placed in the OurDomain - Diemien Zuid student village, which is located 35 to 50 minutes by public transportation away from the host university. You will have a single room with an en-suite bathroom and kitchenette alongside other ISA students and international students. Meal service is not included but you will have a kitchenette to prepare meals as well as access to the on-campus dining options. Laundry facilities are available for an additional cost.
You will pay a $500 refundable security deposit if living in this ISA housing option. ISA may retain some, or all, of this deposit in the event of damage to property, or if utility usage exceeds the allotted monthly amount.
You may elect to secure housing independently. If you select this option, you will receive a discount equal to the housing portion of the program price.
THERE’S MORE TO DISCOVER WITH ISA
Brussels is a unique yet charming cosmopolitan city and the heart of international affairs, home to the European Union, the UN, the European Parliament, and NATO. Multicultural and multilingual, Brussels is the perfect example of a global society that has managed to retain its own distinct personality. You will visit historical landmarks around the city like the Royal Palace, St. Michael's Cathedral, and the famous Mannequin Pis. Downtown, you will find quaint alleys lined with picturesque restaurants, delicious sweets shops, cute boutiques, and cafés galore.
Utrecht is a small, medieval city in central Netherlands and is often considered the most beautiful canal town in Europe. The city center is a small, pedestrian-only space with the Domtoren (Dom) tower at the center, visible from anywhere in the city. You will tour the iconic Dom tower and learn more about the De Stijl artistic movement at the Rietveld Shröeder House. This excursion also includes a canal tour and an underground archeology tour to discover the split-level canals that are unique to Utrecht.
The historic and well-preserved village of Zaanse Schans offers a glimpse into what life was like in the Netherlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. Located along the Zaan River and lined with iconic windmills, Zaanse Schans is a charming city where you will learn about how windmills were used to fuel a variety of industries. On this excursion, you will have a guided tour of the city and will visit the Zuiderzee Museum of cultural heritage and maritime history.
Other domestic excursion
Each semester, VU facilitates an overnight excursion within the Netherlands. This takes place during the first week of the program and is included in the program price. Possible destinations include Friesland, Maastricht, Leiden, Slot Assumburg, or Efteling.
Other international excursion * Optional
Each semester, VU facilitates an overnight excursion outside of the Netherlands. This is an optional excursion and is offered for an extra fee. Possible destinations include Krakow, Munich, Luxembourg City, or Antwerp.
Cultural Activities in Amsterdam
The ISA on-site team encourages you to explore the city and culture of Amsterdam. The team facilitates this by offering a robust calendar of events that showcases what makes Amsterdam special.
These activities vary each term, and previous offerings have included a walking and canal tour of the city, morning excursion by bike in the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) with lunch in a traditional place of pancakes, cheese and wine tasting, tour of Dutch National Opera and Ballet, and attending a classical musical rehearsal concert at the Royal Concertgebouw.