Science, Liberal Arts & Business Courses with Locals
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.
Academic Year 1 2020
Aug 14, 2020 - Jun 26, 2021
May 01, 2020
48 - 60 ECTS Credits
3.00 Minimum GPA*
- Apply Now
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 follows a modular academic structure. The academic year is divided into six intensive periods, or blocks, with the option to take two or three classes per period. The academic year is divided into the following programs:
Fall 1: Periods 1-2
Spring 1A: Periods 4-5
Spring 1B: Periods 4-6
Academic Year: Periods 1-6
All students will make course selections upon application to the program. This is a tentative selection as the final course schedule is not confirmed until VU confirms that the stated pre-requisites have been met.
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 Program
Full-Time Resident Staff
ISA Discovery Model
Official Transcript from the Host University
Professional Development Toolbox
48 - 60
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
12 - 15
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
18 - 22
- 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 Site Specialist.
- 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 Site Specialist for more information.
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
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. ISA offers over $1,000,000 in scholarships and grants each year. To see what opportunities are available, please 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 15 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.
Seville * Optional
Seville is a vibrant and sunny city in southern Spain that is known for Flamenco and bull-fighting. During this optional overnight excursion, you will experience the rich blend of Christian, Moorish, and Jewish traditions, from the Alcazar Palace to the Spain Square and the María Luisa Park. You will also experience the views from the Triana Quarter and Bridge and spend the day in Cádiz.
The Hague is a cultural hub of the Netherlands and home to the Dutch courts and royal family. This charming city sits along the North Sea and is home to many international organizations and entities. On this excursion you will learn more about local and international legal systems with guided tours of the Dutch parliament and the International Court of Justice. A visit to the Mauritshuis museum will offer a deeper look into the Golden Age of Dutch art through the expansive, world-renowned collection of paintings by Dutch artists including Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring. During the summer session, this excursion is facilitated by VU.
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, visits to museums (Van Gogh Museum. Anne Frank House, Troppenmuseum, Moco muesem, etc.), cheese and wine tasting, tour of Dutch National Opera and Ballet, and attending a classical musical rehearsal concert at the Royal Concertgebouw.