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Education Abroad Office

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Area: Exchange Program
Location: Amsterdam
Country: Netherlands
Term: Spring, Fall, Academic Year
Website: Vrije Exchange Program

The USC exchange with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) offers students the opportunity to study at an internationally renowned research university, ranked among the world's best. VU is located in Amsterdam, a lively and multicultural city with the largest concentration of students in the Netherlands and where English is the second language. Dutch society is inherently multicultural; people from other parts of the world have been living in the Netherlands for decades, thanks to the country's historical ties with other nations. Almost all programs are located on campus: a single building complex in the business district of Amsterdam.

Cost: USC resident tuition rates + in-country costs

Requirements: 3.0 GPA, undergraduate standing

Students on exchange pay in-state tuition directly to USC and do not pay tuition to VU. All housing, food, and personal expenses are paid by the student in Amsterdam. Experience shows that living and studying in the Netherlands costs a student between €1,000 and €2,000 per month as the cost of living is high. Some students manage to spend less, but this of course depends on your own lifestyle. VU offers a breakdown of suggested expenses.

VU offers hundreds of English-taught courses ranging from arts and culture and social sciences, neurosciences and computer science, to economics and business administration. Courses in each semester are broken into 3 teaching periods. Fall students can only take courses within periods 1+2 and must be taking a minimum of 24 ECTS (12 USC credits). Spring students have the option to take courses in periods 4+5 or 4-6. Students choosing to stay for only two teaching periods must take a minimum of 24 ECTS (12 USC credits).

To see courses USC students have taken at this university, please reference the Registrar's Course Equivalency Table

VU offers a Buddy Programme that connects exchange students with local Dutch students who can introduce you to the Dutch way of life. Once students are accepted to VU on exchange, they will be sent more information about how to apply for the Buddy Programme. Students wishing to particpiate in the buddy program are expected to be involved in the process before and during their time in Amsterdam. Outside of the buddy programme, students can partake in independent travel in and around the Netherlands. 

Per university policy, all USC students will be charged for  emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation insurance of  for their time abroad. Students will be enrolled in this insurance by the education abroad office prior to their departure. This charge will appear on the USC bill for the semester(s) in which students are abroad. Contact the Education Abroad Office for more details. 

Exchange students can apply for student housing through the central VU International Office. A handling fee of €250 per semester is required for this service. Students will be informed about the procedure after uploading their application package. Housing through their international office cannot be guaranteed and is limited. Students wishing to study at VU and find housing through the International Office must prepare well in advance and be flexible as housing in Amsterdam is limited.  Students can also choose to find housing independently. Students housing can only be rented for the full period (semester or a year).

VU's academic calendar varies from that of USC as it is borken into 6 periods, with 3 periods taking place within the USC semester. The fall semester runs from early September to late January, though final exams may take place in December. It is the student's responsibilty to be aware of the examination schedule for the fall semester. The spring semester runs from early February to late July. Students can attend VU for the fall* or spring** semester or academic year. 

*note: students studying abroad in the fall semester can only take classes only in periods 1 and 2, this will allow students to be back in Columbia for the start of the spring semester. Students who choose to take their courses over 2 periods instead of three must take a minimum of 24 ECTS (12 USC credits) throughout the 2 periods. 

VU offers international students Arrival and Introduction days before the start of each academic semester. The orientation consists of social activities, information about registration at the municipality, sports and cultural facilities for students, ICT, opening a bank account, etc. Students are strongly advised to attend this orientation programme.

VU will apply for a visa and/or a residence permit on behalf of exchange students who are U.S. citizens. However, students will need to upload required documents to your VU account prior to the start of the semester. More information on what to upload and when will be given to students after they have been accepted by VU. Students must pay a €275 fee to the Dutch Immigration Services for their visa. 


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