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Exchange step 1: orientation

Question about studying abroad
Last updated on 12 June 2024
During your degree programme, you have the opportunity to study abroad.

As an exchange student, you will study at a VU Amsterdam partner university for a semester. It's a unique academic challenge during which you will live and study in an international environment. It is a guaranteed boost for your career and personal development! All in all, an unforgettable experience during your studies! 

If you would like to go abroad for a shorter time, take a look at our Aurora courses or Summer Schools. If you would like to spend your time abroad in a different way, please take a look at this page.

Information on your exchange

  • Exchange during your Bachelor's programme

    • If you are in the second year of your Bachelor’s programme, you can sign up for an exchange programme abroad that will take place in the first semester of the third year.
    • In your second year it is mandatory to attend our Study Abroad Weeks. You will be able to sign up via this page in October.
    • If you go on exchange during your free-choice component (keuzeruimte), you have to take courses abroad for 30 ECTS credits per semester. On the VU Study Abroad Map you can find information about the credit calculation per university.
    • You need at least 60 ECTS credits at the time of your application.
    • Before you leave for your exchange semester, you need at least 90 ECTS credits to minimize study delay.
    • In our Study Abroad Student Handbook you will be able to find more information as well. 
    • Before, during and after your exchange you will follow our Unpack Your Study Abroad Programme. This programme has been developed for an optimal (cultural) preparation. Through this programme you can also get in touch with other students who will be going on exchange. More information can be found at Exchange step 4: to do after selection
    • You can go on exchange one time per study cycle (so one time during your bachelor's and one time during your master's).
  • Exchange during your Master's programme

    • Master’s students of a two-year programme should be able to participate in an exchange programme in their elective component without any delay.
    • As a Master's student of the School of Business and Economics, you cannot take part in an exchange semester. If you would like to know more about this, please consult an academic advisor of your faculty.
    • Students taking a one-year Master’s programme may still take part in a foreign exchange programme; however, this will lead to a semester’s delay in their studies. In case you are interested, please discuss this with your academic advisor or Master's coordinator first. 
    • It is not possible to go on exchange within Europe during a one-year Master's programme. A European exchange cannot be done on an extracurricular basis. The exchange has to be part of your curriculum.
    • Before applying for exchange, you need to have obtained 12 ECTS within your Master's programme. 
    • In our Study Abroad Student Handbook you will be able to find more information as well. 
    • Before, during and after your exchange you will follow our Unpack Your Study Abroad Programme. This programme has been developed for an optimal (cultural) preparation. Through this programme you can also get in touch with other students who will be going on exchange. More information can be found at Exchange step 4: to do after selection
  • Exchange during your pre-master

    • As a pre-master student you cannot take part in an exchange. You need to complete your pre-master’s programme first and sign up for a Master's programme. Please take a look at the specific requirements for exchange for your programme.
    • Do you have questions about this? Please contact your academic advisor.
  • Choosing a destination

    • VU has exchange agreements with more than 200 universities around the world. Whether you would like to go to Australia, Germany or Brazil, there is always a destination that will suit you. Every destination offers a unique experience.
    • On the VU Study Abroad Map you can see all partner universities VU cooperates with. These universities are reliable partners and offer a high quality of education. On the Study Abroad Map you can find more information about the destination, student life and housing (among others).
    • On the VU Study Abroad Map you can also read about the experiences of former exchange students.

    Important: select your own study programme on the Study Abroad Map. A lot of our agreements with partner universities were set up by a certain study programme or faculty. 

  • Period

    The information below is meant for Bachelor's students. Are you a Master's student? Please discuss your possibilities with an academic advisor of your programme.

    • The most suitable period for an exchange is the 1st semester of the 3rd year, because most study programmes have no compulsory courses in this period, so this will not lead to study delay. 
    • You can go on exchange for max. 1 semester.
    • You need to follow courses for a workload of 30 ECTS credits.

    Extracurricular exchange

    • For some faculties, it is possible to take courses outside VU (also abroad) after having obtained credits in your free-choice component. This is called an extracurricular exchange. You can find the rules on the pages of your faculty, in the OER, or consult an academic advisor.
    • In most cases you have to postpone your graduation. More information about this can be found on this page.
    • If you want to go on an extracurricular exchange, you are expected to enrol in courses worth of 30 ECTS abroad. During your exchange you will also need to stay enrolled at VU.
    • You can apply in our second selection round.
    • You can only go on an extracurricular exchange to destinations outside of the EU and in the United Kingdom. An exchange within the EU (+ Norway, Iceland, Turkey and Serbia) or Switzerland is not an option. This is not allowed by the Erasmus+ programme.
    • There are also other options to go abroad. You could consider doing an internship abroad or participate in a summer school. You can also go abroad as a free mover student (or independent student). See also 'Other possibilities abroad' for other (extracurricular) options to do part of your studies abroad.
  • Study planning at host university

    Studying abroad fits into almost every study programme. Keep in mind your study plan and check if the courses at a partner university are suitable for your study programme.

    • Make sure that you look carefully at the academic calendar of the partner university that you wish to go to: some universities schedule examinations as late as mid-February, but the second semester at VU will already have begun by then. It is almost always possible to make special arrangements with the partner university. For example, it may be possible to take the examination early, to write and submit an essay, or to arrange with your lecturer in Amsterdam that you can start a course two weeks later than normal. 
    • If you fail a course while you are abroad and you therefore do not have enough credits to graduate, you will need to complete an extra course at VU. This course needs to be approved by the Examination Board.
    • If you have to do resits of mandatory VU courses during your semester abroad, then you might have to travel back to Amsterdam.
    • Only students of the School of Business and Economics are offered the possibility to take an exam while abroad.
  • Costs

    The costs for a period abroad depends on the destination. You can find several low-cost destinations among our partner universities.  

    • On the VU Study Abroad Map you will find an indication of the costs per host university.
    • You pay your tuition fees at VU, so you don't have to pay these fees to the host university.
    • When you get selected for an exchange, you can apply for an Erasmus+, HSP or Globe scholarship via VU International Office. Exchanges within the EU (+ Norway, Iceland, Turkey & Serbia) are financially supported with the Erasmus+ grant, which is a guaranteed scholarship. Read more about this on our scholarships page.
    • Keep in mind that you will have extra costs for your train or plane ticket, a visa, vaccinations and housing.
    • If you have a student travel product, you can apply for a compensation of approx. 120 Euros per month at DUO.

    Make a budget plan for yourself for your semester abroad and check which destinations fit your plan. Or start saving in time!

  • Studying abroad with a disability / personal circumstances

    It is definitely possible to study abroad with a disability! More information can be found on this page. If you are worried about other personal circumstances, for example in relation to your ethnic, religious or sexual identity, finances, caring responsibilities, health and medication, please reach out to We can always schedule an appointment to discuss your personal situation and the possibilities! 

  • Become a buddy for international students

    Are you interested in other cultures and improving your language skills? Or have you just gotten back from a semester abroad and do you wish to continue being part of an international community? Become a buddy for our international exchange students!

    Go to this webpage for more information

Outgoing Student Exchange Team

+31 (0)20 59 85745 (between 10:00 - 12:00, Monday, Wednesday and Friday)

Do you have a question? Mail us!

Consultation hour (walk-in, no appointment required):
Every Tuesday between 12:30 - 13:30 in the Global Room (HG-1A36). Please note: There will be no consultation hour on Tuesday, 23 July. 

Zoom consultation hour: 

to make an appointment please use this link

Emergency number for VU exchange students abroad: +31 (0) 20 6444117. This is the VU-wide emergency number. Emergencies for example include natural disasters, assault and (mental) health issues.