VU coffee point

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers hundreds of English-taught courses at both the Bachelor's and Master's level, ranging from arts & culture and social sciences, neurosciences and computer science, to economics and business administration. Below is an overview of course offerings and minor programmes available to incoming exchange students.

Exchange study guide 2016-2017

Follow a minor programme! (first semester only)

We strongly encourage exchange students to follow one of our minor programmes rather than piecing together their own schedule. These are pre-packaged selections of approximately five related courses that span the entire semester. Most minors are Interdisciplinary and so are open to students from any background, however some minors do have prerequisites and can only be found under the faculty that offers it. One big advantage of selecting a minor is that you will never have overlapping classes in your schedule. Minors do show a focused area of study, so you may also choose to list them on your CV.

Please note that if you click on the links below, you will be directed to faculty websites where not all information applies to you as an exchange student. For instance, for acceptance and registration into these minors, exchange students must always contact the incoming exchange team:

Interdisciplinary minors - open to all students

Minor Behavioural and Human Movement Sciences

Minors Economics and Business Administration

Minors Earth and Life Sciences

Minors Humanities

Minor Sciences

Minors VU Medical Centre

Entry requirements

Some Bachelor’s level courses have specific entry requirements. You can find this information for each course in the study guide.

In addition to course specific entry requirements, students interested in following Master’s level courses must also meet the admission requirements for the Master’s degree programme to which the course belongs. This includes a copy of your Bachelor’s diploma and submitted proof of an English proficiency test result. For more information please see our emptynomination and application procedure.

A note about courses taught in Dutch

At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, courses taught in Dutch are only accessible for students who are sufficiently proficient in the Dutch language. C1 level is required. Attaining such a level of proficiency usually takes several years and so it is normally not possible for exchange students to enroll in Dutch taught courses. If you wish to take courses taught in Dutch, please contact us at

Courses and registration deadlines

The International Office will register your courses before the start of your semester. You must fill out a course registration form in advance, which is made available to students in mid-July for the Fall semester, and in mid-December for the Spring semester. Any changes to your course registration must be emailed to before the registration deadline (see further below).

Exams and resit exams

Course registration automatically registers students for their examinations. In the event of failing a course, students will need to be registered for the resit examination. Students must send their requests to at least two weeks prior to the examination date.

Semesters & periods

At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the academic year is divided into 2 semesters. These semesters, in turn, are divided into 6 periods:

1st semester (Fall)Course registration deadline (2016-2017)September - January
Period 112 September 2016September – October
Period 23 October 2016November – December
Period 312 December 2016January
2nd semester (Spring)February – June
Period 49 January 2017February – March
Period 56 March 2017April – May
Period 68 May 2017June

For more details about our semester dates, please consult the 2016-2017 academic calendar.

Credits (ECTS)

VU University Amsterdam uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) which is based on the workload students should have in order to achieve expected learning outcomes. ECTS is based on the principle that 60 credits measure the workload of a full-time student during one academic year. In addition, each ECTS credit is equivalent to 28 study hours (which includes both classroom hours as well as self-study). Most courses are 6 ECTS credits.

Students must enroll in a minimum of 24 ECTS for per semester (or 48 ECTS for the whole academic year), however a full workload is considered 30 ECTS for one semester (or 60 ECTS for the academic year). Exchange students must follow at least 18 ECTS credits per semester at the faculty to which they are nominated.

Grading system

Dutch grades range from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Grades of 5.5 and higher are passing grades. The highest grade, 10, is very rarely awarded. An 8 is considered a high mark and a 7 is more common. Grades from 1 to 3 are also quite rare.

ECTS %Quality AssessmentECTS gradeDutch grade
10%Excellent/Very goodA8.0 - 10.0
25%GoodB7.5 - 7.9
30%More than satisfactoryC7.0 - 7.4
25%SatisfactoryD6.5 - 6.9
10%SufficientE5.5 - 6.4
 FailF0.0 - 5.4


Dutch language courses

The Department of Dutch as a Second Language (NT2 Academy) offers extensive Dutch language courses for exchange students. These courses cover eight weeks and take place two evenings a week. In addition to attending these class hours students are also expected to commit at least five hours of self-study per week. Exchange students can obtain 3.5 ECTS for completing this course. Please note that there are additional costs involved.

Feel free to contact us with any remaining questions at after reading the above information.

© Copyright VU University Amsterdam