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

Note that the exchange study guide is subject to change.

Exchange students must always select courses from our exchange study guide. Selecting courses from our regular Bachelor's or Master's programmes is unfortunately not possible. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Courses taught in Dutch. If you wish to take Dutch-taught courses, you need to be sufficiently proficient in the Dutch language (C1 level). Attaining such a level of proficiency usually takes several years of study. If you wish to take courses taught in Dutch, please contact us at
  • Courses for PPE students. If you are a PPE student from one of our PPE partners, you are allowed to also choose from a total of 18 courses from our PPE Bachelor's programme. You can find the overview of courses on the programme page in the VU study guide. Note, however, that your choice is limited to the second-year courses within the Track Philosophy 2nd Year, the Track Political Science 2nd Year & the Track Economics 2nd Year.

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 Bachelor's 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 not 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 2021-2022 (open to all students)

Faculty minors 2021-2022 (please note that these minor programmes have specific entry requirements)

Minors Behavioural and Human Movement Sciences

Minors Economics and Business Administration

Minors Earth and Life Sciences

Minors Sciences

Minors Social Sciences

Minor Programmes Faculty of Medicine VU

VU partner 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. Please mind that some tracks are only open to medical students, and acceptance also depends on the availability of sufficient spots. 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.

Courses and registration deadlines

The International Office will ask you submit your course selection in advance. If approved, your course list will be made available in your VUweb account. Please note that you must still register for courses yourself in VUweb. Course registration for the first semester of each academic year will start in July. Course registration for the second semester will start in December. Any changes to your course selection must be emailed to before the registration deadlines (see further below).

Exams and resit exams

When you register for courses in VUweb, you must also register for work groups (if applicable) and for the first exam. In the event of failing a course, you must register for the resit examination at least two weeks prior to the examination date.

Semesters & periods

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

Academic year 2020-2021

1st semester (Fall)Course registrationSeptember - January
Period 120 July - 7 September 2020September – October
Period 214 September - 5 October 2020November – December
Period 323 November - 14 December 2020January
2nd semester (Spring)
February – June
Period 416 December 2020 - 11 January 2021
February – March
Period 58 February - 8 March 2021
April – May
Period 612 April - 3 May 2021

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

Academic calendar 2020-2021

Academic calendar 2021-2022

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 costs involved. As an (exchange) student you get a discount on the course fee.

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