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Academic Calendar for Semester in Amsterdam students

Are you a (prospective) Semester in Amsterdam student and curious about how the academic calendar at VU Amsterdam works and how to plan your courses?

Below you can find detailed information about the semester structure at VU Amsterdam, including the start and end dates of each semester and period as well as exam dates.

Note: the information on this page is meant for (prospective) Semester in Amsterdam students. If you are a degree student, please check out the general academic year calendar.

Academic Calendar for Semester in Amsterdam

  • 2022 - 2023 Academic Calendar

    Fall 2022 Semester (Semester One)5 September 2022 - 3 February 2023
    Practical Matters Day and Introduction Period20 August - 30 August 2022
    Period 15 September - 21 October 2022, Exams: 24 - 28 October
    Period 231 October - 16 December 2022, Exams: 19 - 23 December
    Period 3 (Optional)9 - 27 January 2023, Exams: 30 - 3 February
    Spring 2023 Semester (Semester Two)6 February - 30 June 2023
    Practical Matters Day and Introduction Period3 - 5 February 2023
    Period 46 February - 24 March 2023, Exams: 27 March - 31 March
    Period 53 April - 25 May 2023, Exams: 26 May - 2 June
    Period 6 (Optional)5 - 23 June 2023, Exams: 26 June - 30 June

    For more information, please consult the academic calendar.

  • 2023 - 2024 Academic Calendar

    Fall 2023 Semester (Semester One)4 September 2023 - 2 February 2024
    Introduction and Orientation Period19 August - 1 September 2023
    Period 14 September - 20 October 2023, Exams: 23 - 27 October
    Period 230 October - 15 December 2023, Exams: 18 - 22 December
    Period 3 (Optional)8 - 26 January 2024, Exams: 29 - 2 February
    Spring 2024 Semester (Semester Two)5 February - 28 June 2024
    Practical Matters Day and Introduction Period2 - 4 February 2024
    Period 45 February - 21 March 2024, Exams: 22 March - 28 March

    Period 5

    2 April - 24 May 2024, Exams: 27 - 31 May 

    No Teaching/Assessment: 29 April - 3 May

    Period 6 (Optional)3 - 21 June 2024, Exams: 24 June - 28 June

    For more information, please consult the academic calendar.

  • Semester Structure and Academic Credit System (ECTS)

    The Period Structure

    The academic year is divided into two semesters. Each semester is then divided into three periods. 

    Periods 1, 2, and 3 take place during the fall semester (semester 1) and periods 4, 5, and 6 take place during the spring semester (semester 2). The first two periods of each semester are 8 weeks long (periods 1, 2, 4, and 5) and the last period is 4 weeks long (periods 3 and 6). Students generally take at least two courses in each of the first two periods of each semester. Courses that take place in more than one period (1+2, 4+5, etc.) are continuous courses that take place throughout the duration of both periods. If you want to enroll in the course, you must enroll in both periods; it's not possible to choose just one period or the other.

    You are free to skip the last period and return home in December (Fall) or the end of May (Spring) if you prefer (this also applies to minor programmes). As an alternative to taking a course in periods 3 or 6, you can also choose to take an extra course in another period. Students can take a maximum of 30 ECTS (usually 5 courses worth 6 ECTS each) per semester. It is up to you to decide how many courses to take in each period. We advise students not to take more than 3 courses in any one period.

    ECTS Credit System and Study Hours

    A regular semester workload consists of 24 - 30 ECTS. Each ECTS credit is equivalent to 28 study hours. Unlike many other academic systems, ECTS credits include hours spent in class as well as self-study hours spent independently working by yourself outside of the classroom. A course that is worth 6 ECTS credits would be equal to 168 study hours (including time spent both in and outside of class). Students are advised to take 24-30 ECTS per semester.

    You can also find more information in the ECTS user’s guide (though this is quite a lengthy document).

  • Instruction Style

    Study hours at VU Amsterdam are a combination of hours spent in class with the instructor and hours spent out of class working independently. In general, a VU student has about 10 hours per week of strictly student/professor contact hours. The remaining hours are spent outside of the classroom and can include time spent working on assignments with other students from your course, known as “work groups,” or time spent working individually on assignments, known as “self-study.” 

    The Dutch understanding of “self-study” is a fixed number of hours spent working on specific assignments. Although the number of hours spent by each student may vary, all students are expected to complete a minimum number of hours of self-study for each course. This varies per course, but you should be prepared to spend more time studying independently than you may be used to. Self-study hours are weighted the same as in-class hours and are thus included in the 1 ECTS = 28 contact hours calculation.

    Studying at VU Amsterdam: What is expected of you?

    • Be an active learner and critical thinker: ask questions, participate, and share your opinion
    • Be present and on time: many teachers have a 100% attendance policy; it's wise to check this with your professor beforehand
    • Be prepared: fewer lectures, more self-study
    • Be accountable: you are responsible for knowing when your assignments are due and when the exams take place
    • Be transparent: always mention your source of information; plagiarism may result in automatic failure of the course

    Studying at VU Amsterdam: What can you expect?

    • High level of classroom interaction
    • Independence and active learning
    • Relative lack of competition
    • Direct feedback
    • Social equality
    • No grade inflation or scaling

Questions? Please don't hesitate to contact us!

Semester in Amsterdam is a separate programme from the Exchange programme at VU Amsterdam. If you have been nominated by your home university for Exchange and your university is a partner of VU Amsterdam, please contact Are you currently a student of another Dutch university wishing to register for a minor? Please contact the student desk at