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Incoming exchange students Medicine

Last updated on 25 January 2022

Amsterdam UMC, Location VUmc has a strong international profile both in research and education which is reflected in its strong citation scores, its extensive international network, the high number of students doing part of their traineeships abroad, an English taught minor as an integral part of the regular medicine program, its international research master programs, and the specialized continuation courses offered abroad.

The high quality of research and education at VU Univerdsity Amsterdam and its Faculty of Medicine VU can be demonstrated by its excellent performance in international rankings. In the 'Academic Ranking of World Universities' (ARWU) 2021, or the Shanghai Ranking, VU Amsterdam holds a position 101-150 worldwide .  Moreover, VU Amsterdam's ranks 76-100 world-wide in the disciplines Clinical Medicine.
Also in the Times Higher Education 2022 VU University Amsterdam ranks 115 worldwide, and between 126 and 150 worldwide for Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health Sciences .

The research of VUmc is dedicated to five focus areas: cancer & immunology, neurosciences, cardiovascular disease, public health, primary care & long-term care and movement sciences.

Amsterdam UMC, Location VUmc is one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands, with 45.000 admissions and more than 400.000 outpatient consultations per year.

More information about studying at the Faculty of Medicine VU

  • Why VUmc?

    The Faculty of Medicine VU and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc offers:

  • Non-Degree / Exchange program

    English taught minor program (elective semester)

    Ever wondered how and why diseases develop? How medicine work or how novel drugs are discovered? What the underlying mechanisms are? Then join the exchange semester (24/30 ECTS) of the Faculty of Medicine in which we will address all these questions. The English taught minor is open for exchange students of VU/VUmc partner universities and is offered during the first semester of  the academic year (September till December /January).

    Both Dutch and International guest students from our partner institutions are welcome to participate, provided they meet the prerequisites. Students who wish to apply for one of these minors need to have completed at least 90 ECTS in a relevant programme, for example: medicine, biomedicine, psychobiology, technical medicine, medical biology, liberal arts & sciences or biopharmaceutical sciences. 

    For information about the exchange possibilities in the minor (elective semester) for students from partner universities please consider VU Amsterdam website.

    For questions more related to the content of the international minor medicine program and questions during your stay you may also contact the International Office at the Faculty of Medicine 

    Clinical Electives (Internships) placement at Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc

    On a regular basis we receive enquiries regarding clinical (elective) placements at Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc. Our curriculum was recently reconstructed. Unfortunately the new curriculum structure provides no opportunity for the departments to accept foreign students for clinical placements over the coming period (due to the fact that we have to use all available spots to be able to accommodate our own students).

  • Degree programmes

    Master Oncology

    The Master Program in Oncology trains (bio) medically oriented bachelors and related bachelors in life sciences to become independent researchers with a depth knowledge in the field of Oncology. You will be trained in state-of-the-art techniques in cancer research and therapy in a challenging environment by experts in the field.

    For more information about the program please visit the website 

    Master Cardiovascular Research  

    The Master Program in Cardiovascular Research is designed to equip you to become the next generation of scientists who are eager to understand the causes of disease and develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. At the VU, you can follow the track Imaging and Personalized Medicine which is not focusing on clinical research and not specifically on cardiovascular research but much broader. It is a small scale and unique programme developed by passionate clinical and preclinical scientists who are active in the field of clinical life sciences and teaches from the perspective of translational research.

    For more information about the program please visit the website

    Zigma graduate entry program in medicine at VU Amsterdam

    Zigma is our four year graduate entry program in medicine with focus on research. The Faculty of Medicine of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam established this program in 2012 in order to train a small group of talented students to become doctors with a strong research profile. When you enter the program you will start with a premaster year to acquire medical knowledge and skills, followed by three years of the Master’s program of Medicine with an extended research internship and clinical rotations. 

    Experience VU as a research university

    In the program you will be offered workshops, courses and will receive training in a variety of research skills since these are characteristic for Zigma. Are you eager to perform research and perhaps also to obtain your PhD-degree? Zigma encourages you to start your PhD research during your Master’s program.

    Everybody with a keen interest in medicine as well as in medical scientific research is more than welcome to apply. You will be admitted to participate in our selection procedure if you have obtained a university degree less than five years ago, and have not studied medicine before, and finished a bachelor, or if applicable a master, with a university degree in biomedical sciences, life sciences or liberal arts and sciences (with premed track).  

     Please note that the graduate entry program in medicine is offered in Dutch only. 

    Our alumni find a job easily and are successfully working as junior doctors, PhD candidates or residents.

    If you have any questions about the graduate entry program, please contact us through the following email address:

    Please note that our website in Dutch offers information on e.g. the application, selection procedure and program.

    Master Epidemiology

    The Master Program in Epidemiology is a 2,5 years, part-time programme of 60 EC.
    The theoretical part (30 EC) consists of seven compulsory courses and three optional courses. The programme also includes a scientific internship (30 EC). The Master’s Programme trains postgraduates from a range of disciplines (Medicine, Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences etc.). It focuses on applied research in primary care and public health.

    For more information about the programme please visit the Epidemiology website

  • Contact

    The International Office at the Faculty of Medicine manages international programmes for medical students and offers assistance to international students visiting the Faculty of Medicine. 

    International Office Faculty of Medicine:

    • Ms. M. (Mariëtte) Diderich, MA, Head International Office
    • Ms. C. (Chrissie) van Amsterdam
    • Mr. J.J. (Jeroen) van der Heide
    • Ms. J.M. (Jayne) Yard

    Note: Due to the COVID-19 situation, we mainly work from home and therefore it is not possible to meet us in person at the moment. Appointments take place online via (Zoom).
    General enquiries:

    The Faculty of Medicine has two study advisors who can assist students with study-related and personal matters. You can contact them by emailing:

    The International Office VU is part of Student & Educational Affairs and assists in students’ and employees’ international mobility.

    For more information, please visit the website International Office at VU University

  • Exchange experiences

    George Teo Voicescu, Romania
    "You get an awful lot out of exchange programmes like this"

    “When I was five, I wanted to be a baker so that people could enjoy the biscuits I made. But from the age of ten I was sure I wanted to be a doctor. I did volunteer work at A & E when I was 17. That’s quite unusual, but I kept on pestering them till they let me do it. Now I’m doing volunteer work in the ambulance service. That gives me first-hand experience of what medicine means and helps me to understand the significance of my studies. Medical students don’t do any clinical work during the first three years of their studies in Romania. It’s all theoretical, which makes it very hard to keep motivated.

    Amsterdam is fantastic. I’ve never seen so many cycles in my life! That’s a reflection of the free, open-minded spirit of the Dutch people, in my opinion, leaving your car in the garage and jumping on your bike. Art and beauty are very important here too: there are 400 museums in Amsterdam. I live in Uilenstede, the biggest student campus in northern Europe, alongside students from Spain, Sweden, Lithuania and Pakistan. I enjoy learning about new cultures, chatting about everyday topics as well as engaging in more serious political and philosophical discussions. We all have our own individual views on these matters, which are shaped by our culture and our background. The greatest added value of these student exchanges is the opportunity they give us to learn from one another. It’s a very rewarding experience, and promotes your personal development. I hope I will be able to spread these benefits when I’m back in Romania.” 

    David Kulusiak, Ján Oros, Czech Republic | Moritz Platzer, Austria
    "The minor is for medical students who really want to have an impact"

    Thursday afternoon, 6 December. The rain patters against the windows of the VUmc. Three 5th year medical students are discussing their experiences. David Kulisiak and Ján Oros from Charles University in Prague and Moritz Platzer from the Medical University of Graz. All three are enrolled in the VUmc Medical Sciences International minor. Created in 2016, this minor is designed for VUmc students of medicine as well as students from other faculties in the Netherlands and abroad. Students have a choice of no less than 14 different programs. It is a unique degree program that focuses on both scientific research and clinical setting experience.

    Moritz: "I arrived in Amsterdam in mid-August. Fortunately, I was able to get a really great room right away with a big group of international students. I got myself a bicycle so I can easily commute to the VU campus and cycle around the city." The gentlemen from Slovakia also found rooms on the Uilenstede student campus: “It's really nice to be there with all international students. The International Cooperation Office of the VU immediately organized a weekend for the foreign students. It was really the best! You have a big group of friends just like that." The MFVU [VUmc Medical Faculty Association] helped the students, too. They quickly integrated into VU student life; "they were very nice to us. And of course we went to the gala, too. Awesome!"

    Moritz is impressed by Amsterdam: "What a beautiful city; what a bustling city. I want to come back here to do a Master's. That says enough, of course. The weather is the only downside. I miss the sun and the mountains in Austria. An umbrella is a must here." Ján instantly had a group of students with whom to spend evenings playing board games. "So fun. But I'm also completely enjoying Amsterdam's nightlife. And thanks to the Erasmus program we get a discount on admission to the Van Gogh museum and the Rembrandt museum. I can't believe how many Dutch students have never been there; it is so beautiful!"

    Judging by the students' efforts, enrolling in an international minor is not easy. David: "It took me a month to negotiate the allocation of credits. The alignment between the curricula is an issue. Still, I wanted this so badly, I was willing to fight for it. Practically every medical degree program in the world is static. There is hardly any room to do something in addition to the regular program. This program is truly innovative, with so much room for science. That is unique." Moritz echoes David's remarks: "This minor is for medical students who don't want to be an average doctor but who really want to have an impact on the world. I'm taking the Global Health, Diversity & Conflict minor. I do have to study really hard. It is a lot of work. But I love the lecturer's approach. We make a video, write various papers." Ján: "The scientific institutes here are world-renowned, too. The MS center, the Alzheimer's center. I'm doing the Clinical Neuroscience - Life of Brain minor. If you want to do neurological research, the VUmc is where you have to be."

    For Ján, the workload isn't that bad. "It's just different. At home in Prague, it's really during the first three years that you have to cram like crazy. Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. So many students drop out. It's kind of a selection process during the study itself. This minor demands a lot from you, but in a good way. You write a lot, substantiate what you are doing. You really learn something. I have written three papers during these six months!"

    To David, the Dutch students are on the goody-goody side: "They start studying so far ahead of time. At home in Slovakia, my fellow students are often perfectly happy with a passing grade. That's very different here." The other thing that stands out is how slim people are: "Serious and slim," Moritz jokes. "And in Amsterdam you can tell right away who's a tourist and who's a local. Just looking at the way they cycle says it all. Even funnier: tourists on a bike trying to be native Amsterdammers, haha!"

    Is there anything that could be improved? Moritz would like to see some English-speaking patients in the lectures. "They tend to speak Dutch. But usually there's an interpreter on hand during classes."

    Would you encourage students back home to come to Amsterdam? David: "Definitely. The VU is the 43rd best university in the world and Amsterdam offers you a fantastic minor, truly unique in the world. And in a city that has so many nationalities and so many foreign students. It's an experience that I will take with me and will help shape me as a doctor in the future. A doctor of the world." 

  • Rankings

    In the 'Academic Ranking of World Universities' (ARWU) 2021, or the Shanghai Ranking, VU Amsterdam holds a position 101-150 worldwide.  Moreover, VU Amsterdam's ranks 76-100 world-wide in the disciplines Clinical Medicine. Also in the Times Higher Education 2022 VU University Amsterdam ranks 115 worldwide, and between 126 and 150 worldwide for Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health Sciences.

    The Master of the Faculty of Medicine is ranked first, and the Bachelor second, among all Dutch Medicine Faculties in the Dutch National Student Survey 2021. The National Students Survey (NSE) is a large-scale international survey in the Netherlands, for which almost all students in higher education are invited to give their opinion about the quality of their education.

    The master Cardiovascular Research, Faculty of Medicine is also ranked first in the National Students Survey (NSE) 2018 of all biomedical master's programs in the Netherlands. The master Oncology ranked second. 

  • Application and admission

    For questions about application and admission to the masters in Oncology and Cardiovascular Research you may contact the international student advisors at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

    For information related to the content of the programmes you may also contact the Coordinator at (Cardiovascular Research) or (Oncology).


Do you have any questions? Please contact the Student Service Centre of the Faculty of Medicine.

Call +31 (0)20 44 48010 (Mon – Fri: 10:00 – 12:30 and 14:00 – 16:30)

General question:

Send an email for question related to:
- the Bachelor/Minors:
- the Master:
- Internationalisation: