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

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.

University minors - open to all students

Faculty minors - please note that these minor programmes have specific entry requirements

Minor Behavioural and Human Movement Sciences

Minors Economics and Business Administration

Minors Earth and Life Sciences

Minors Humanities

Minor Sciences

Minors VU Medical Centre

All modules at VUmc will be preceded by the same general course: Translational Sciences: From Bench to Bedside and Back (6 ECTS, 4 weeks). Exchange students who wish to apply 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. More information:


Entry requirements

Some Bachelor’s level courses have specific entry requirements, which you can find in the exchange 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 you for 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, you will need to be registered for the resit examination. You must send their requests to at least two weeks prior to the examination date.

Semesters & periods 2017-2018

At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the academic year is divided into 2 semesters. Each semester is divided into 3 periods:

Academic year 2017-2018

1st semester (Fall)Course registration deadlineSeptember - January
Period 111 September 2017September – October
Period 22 October 2017November – December
Period 311 December 2017January
2nd semester (Spring)February – June
Period 415 January 2018February – March
Period 512 March 2018April – May
Period 614 May 2018June

For details about our semester dates, please consult our academic calendars:

2017-2018 academic calendar

2018-2019 academic calendar

Credits (ECTS)

VU 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 30 ECTS credits measure the workload of a full-time student during one semester (and 60 ECTS for a full 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.

If you are nominated on a faculty contract, you are expected to follow the majority of your courses at that faculty with a minimum of 18 ECTS out of 30. Additionally, you are allowed to follow 12 ECTS at other faculties, provided you have the relevant academic background. As an exchange student, you must take a minimum of 24 ECTS credits per semester (or 48 ECTS for the whole academic year).

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.