Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, please visit vu.nl/coronavirus. If you are a current or prospective student with questions about how this situation affects the Semester in Amsterdam Programme, please visit vu.nl/coronavirus and click on the link for international students.

Semester in Amsterdam is a specific, fee-paying, non-degree study abroad programme which serves as the alternative to the Exchange Programme at VU Amsterdam. If you have been formally nominated by your home university to participate in Exchange at VU Amsterdam and your university has an official partnership agreement, please visit the page for Incoming Exchange Students. 

If you are not sure if your university has an exchange partnership agreement with VU Amsterdam or not, please contact the international office at your home university. If your university does not have an official agreement but will allow you to enroll as a fee-paying student instead, you may still be able to study abroad at VU Amsterdam through the Semester in Amsterdam Programme. 
The Semester in Amsterdam Programme is intended for:

  • Students from universities that are not partnered with VU Amsterdam or do not qualify for their university’s exchange programme with VU Amsterdam
  • Students from providers and partner universities who have a study abroad agreement with VU Amsterdam
  • Individuals not currently enrolled at a university but seeking academic or professional development opportunities
No, Semester in Amsterdam is not a degree programme. It is not possible to complete a full degree through our programme. We also cannot guarantee which courses taken through the Semester in Amsterdam Programme will transfer to a full degree programme, though in general you will not be asked to repeat courses you pass. If you have questions about which courses will transfer or are interested in applying to a full Bachelor's degree programme, please see the bachelor programme pages here and contact the relevant international student advisor with any questions you may have. You can find a full list of master degree programmes here.

Bachelor-level Applicants:

  • We recommend that students be at least 3rd-year Bachelor students before the start of the programme.  Students are required to have completed at least one full year of university experience.  If you are a recent high school graduate, please see the VU Amsterdam Gap Year Experience instead.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 American scale; comparable to an A or B average on the ECTS system.

Master-level Applicants:

  • Completed Bachelor's degree (or expected completion before the start date of the programme)
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 American scale; comparable to an A or B average on the ECTS system.
  • Official English language test scores of: TOEFL paper-based 580, computer-based 232, internet-based 92, or IELTS 6.5.

No, you do not have to be currently enrolled in a university in order to apply to our programme. Professionals and students of all different backgrounds are welcome. However, students must have completed at least one year of university-level experience in order to participate. If you are a recent high school graduate with no university experience, you may still be able to study at VU Amsterdam through the VU Amsterdam Gap Year Experience.

Yes, of course! We encourage students of all nationalities to apply. Please do be aware that, because Semester in Amsterdam is a non-government funded programme, there is no EU tuition fee. We do offer three scholarships. Some students may also be able to receive additional government funding from their home countries. Please check with your study abroad provider or home university to see what might be possible. 

Please see the Fees and Scholarships page for more information about the Semester in Amsterdam fees and scholarships.

We ask you to submit the following documents:

  • Copy of an official transcript of records and an (unofficial) translation in English (if applicable)
  • Print screen/copy of courses you are currently enrolled in (if these are not included on your transcript)
  • Passport copy
  • English Language Test Scores (Master-level applicants only)

You do not need an English language proficiency certificate to apply for Bachelor-level courses within the Semester in Amsterdam Programme. For Master-level courses, we require the following official test scores: TOEFL score paper-based 580, computer-based 232, internet-based 92, or IELTS 6.5.

If you have completed a full Bachelor's degree in English, you are not required to submit English language test scores. Please be aware that this exemption only applies to full degree programmes. If you completed some coursework in English, but your degree programme was in another language, you are still required to submit English language test scores.

The application deadline for the fall Semester is 1 May. The payment deadline is 1 June. The application deadline for the spring Semester is 1 October and the payment deadline 1 November. If you have European citizenship then we can extend these deadlines. If you have questions about these deadlines due to coronavirus, please see vu.nl/coronavirus.

We aim to send you the results of your application within 2-3 weeks.
The Immigration Team at VU Amsterdam will apply for a study visa on your behalf; you cannot do this yourself. It is also not necessary to apply for a visa or pay any fees in VUnet. You can expect to receive a mail directly from the Immigration Team requesting documents in May. In the meantime, you can already check what applies to you and start gathering documents listed here.

Semester in Amsterdam students can choose their own curriculum. Students can either choose individual courses from over 1,000+ English-taught Bachelor and Master courses or students can choose a minor programme which is a pre-packaged combination of related courses which offer specialized knowledge. Minor programmes are only offered in the fall. Additionally, you can choose Honours courses, Dutch electives, and even extend your stay in the Netherlands via the VU Amsterdam Summer School. Find out which option is right for you!

You will not receive a course schedule or timetable until you are officially enrolled in courses. As soon as the academic timetable is posted, we will ask you to check to make sure that your course times do not overlap. If one of your courses overlaps, you will need to choose an alternate course. You can reduce the chance of overlaps by choosing courses at the same level within the same faculty. You can already familiarize yourself with the timetable website here.

A regular workload for one semester is 30 ECTS. Most courses are 6 ECTS. VU Amsterdam requires students to take a minimum of 24 ECTS and a maximum of 30 ECTS per semester. You can choose how to divide up your credits across the semester. Students usually take two courses worth 6 ECTS in each of the first two periods.  Some students choose not to take courses in the last period so that they can return home at the end of December (fall semester) or May (spring semester). We do not advise students to take more than 3 courses in any period. 

When planning courses, it's important to keep in mind that VU Amsterdam works on a period structure which is likely different from what you are used to. Each semester is broken up into 3 periods with the first two periods spanning 8 weeks and the last period spanning 4 weeks. This means your courses might be shorter but more intense. Some courses also span two periods. If this is the case, this will be indicated in the study guide (for example: Period 4+5). This means that the course is more spread out. 

No, not all courses are open to international students. Semester in Amsterdam students and Exchange students choose from the same course lists. You can find the Exchange Study Guide here. Please make sure to only choose courses listed under the Exchange Programme.
No they are not. Most courses are offered each year, however, students applying for the fall semester should note that the course lists for the new academic year will not be published until June/July. The academic timetable is posted in July for the Fall semester and December for the Spring semester. Until the academic timetable is posted, your choices are provisional and subject to change. For this reason we suggest having back-up courses. Many courses also have specific background requirements. Please pay special attention to the target audience and recommended or required background knowledge listed in the course descriptions.

The Dutch academic year is divided into two semesters. The first (fall) semester consists of periods 1-3 and runs from September until the end of January. The second (spring) semester consists of periods 4-6 and runs from February until the end of June. Students generally take two courses in periods 1, 2, 4, and 5, and one course in periods 3 and 6. However, periods 3 and 6 are stand-alone periods and can be replaced with an extra course in a prior period if desired. You may also choose to skip the last period and only take courses in periods 1 and 2 (fall semester) or periods 4 and 5 (spring semester). It is up to you to decide how to structure your courses throughout the semester.

You can find more information about the semester structure here.

Dutch grades range from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). The highest grades of 9 and 10 are rarely awarded. An 8 is considered a high mark while 7's and 6's are more common. Grades from 1 (very poor) to 3 are rare. Grades of 5.5 and higher are passing grades in the Netherlands, but we advise you to confirm what constitutes a passing grade at your home university. Please be prepared for the fact that many grades are sometimes only made up of one final exam.

Most courses offer re-sit exams if you fail the first exam. However, if you only stay until period 2 in the fall or period 5 in the spring, then the re-sit dates often occur after you have already returned home. You must be present in Amsterdam to take the re-sit exam.

Please also be aware that if you choose to take the re-sit exam, the re-sit grade is the grade that counts, even if that grade is lower than your original exam grade. It is for this reason that we do not recommend taking the re-sit exam unless you failed the course.

You are not automatically enrolled in any re-sit exams. All requests for re-sits must be sent to [email protected] after your grade has been registered and at least 2 weeks before the date of the re-sit exam.

Your provider or partner university may require transcripts to include failed grades. If you participated in Semester in Amsterdam through direct enrollment (not via a provider), then you are free to request a transcript without failed grades. All students (regardless of whether you participated through a provider or not) have the option of requesting a transcript without failed grades 6 months after the completion of the programme.

Yes, you will be asked to indicate if you wish to receive academic accommodations on your application. The most common academic accommodation awarded is extra time for exams. In order to receive academic accommodations, you must submit a document from a health care provider or university representative stating the nature of the disability and the accommodations you receive at your home university.
Since Semester in Amsterdam is a non-government funded programme, there is no EU tuition fee.

No, all Semester in Amsterdam fees are standardized and cannot be modified or changed in any way. We do, however, offer financial assistance in the form of three scholarships. Each scholarship is worth €2,500 per semester which is subtracted from tuition costs. You can find more information about the scholarships on this page: https://www.vu.nl/en/programmes/short/semester/scholarships/index.aspx

You will be asked to indicate on your application if you wish to receive housing through Semester in Amsterdam. For some universities or providers, this may be required. If you indicate that you do wish to receive housing, this is all you need to do. You will receive more information about your housing placement in December (Spring 2021 Semester). Please do not contact the housing providers directly as this often leads to confusion. Semester in Amsterdam reserves rooms on your behalf in order to guarantee you housing. This means that if you contact the housing providers directly, they will give you information which applies to open market student housing, and not about the rooms reserved for you.

We have three different housing options: Our Domain/Our Campus, Hotel Jansen, or Homestay. Please be aware that housing in Amsterdam is extremely limited and not all housing options are available every semester. Most students will receive a housing placement at Our Domain/Our Campus. Our Domain features brand-new studio housing with a private bathroom and private kitchen on an all-student campus located less than 5 minutes from a major train station. You can read more about our housing options here: https://www.vu.nl/en/programmes/short/semester/housing/index.aspx

Yes, you are free to find your own housing if you like. However, please be aware that private housing in Amsterdam is extremely limited. Unless you have family in Amsterdam or have already secured your own housing, we strongly recommend that you accept the housing placement offered by Semester in Amsterdam.