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Institutions

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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Accreditation

Degree programs offered at VU Amsterdam are accredited by NVAO. NVAO (Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatieorganisatie) is the Accreditation Organisation of The
Netherlands and Flanders.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam) was founded in 1880 and is now ranked one of the top 100 universities in the world. With a focus on research and academic excellence, VU Amsterdam hosts about 25,000 students a year, and 14% of them are international. Higher education in the Netherlands is world renowned and regulated by the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). All Bachelor programs are accredited through the NVAO.

VU Amsterdam was the first university in the Netherlands to be established without interference from the church or the state. In fact, Vrije Universiteit literally means Free University. That secular tradition continues in the university’s work to create its own study programs with an emphasis on a personalized approach to teaching and learning. The campus is easy to navigate, thanks to the single-building complex design, and students quickly feel at home.

The university has a wide variety of academic offerings, with over 350 courses regularly taught in English. Like many Dutch institutions, VU Amsterdam puts a heavy emphasis on academic responsibility and independence. Instructors expect students to be active listeners and participate in classroom discussions. There is a high level of classroom interaction, a strict adherence to attendance policies and school rules, and direct honesty in grading, with no grade inflation.

When you study at VU Amsterdam, you’ll be just 15 minutes by bike from the city center. International students are actively welcomed, and encouraged to take part in arts, sports, and cultural programs through the student center and the ERASMUS Student Network (ESN). You can even expand your horizon by joining student clubs, participating in free workshops, or joining a volunteer program. From the campus bike repair shop to volleyball courts to film screenings and the on-campus grocery store, VU Amsterdam creates a cozy home away from home for all students.

Classroom and Information

  • Dutch and international faculty teach all courses.
  • The semester is divided into Periods. Two Periods in the Fall and two or three Periods in the Spring. Exams, presentations, or projects generally due at the end of each Period. Each faculty member will outline specifics on the first day of classes.
  • Exams, homework assignments, and final exams will be administered.
  • Class attendance is 100% mandatory and monitored by professors. Some professors allow 1-2 absences, but this is detailed on the first day of class.
  • Most classes do not meet on the same day each week, and some can even meet multiple times per day.
  • Teaching styles in the Netherlands may differ from those in the U.S. Be prepared to adapt to different classroom structures and coursework expectations.
  • Grades are typically based on a mid-term and a final exam, and sometimes on only one exam. Cramming does not work.
  • Class sizes range from about 10-25 students in seminar classes and 300-500 students in large lecture classes. However, in all classes, small group work and independent learning is emphasized.
  • Many of your peers at VU Amsterdam will be Dutch, but you will also attend class with other CEA students and other international students.

Grading

The Dutch grading system is generally based on a mark between 1 (minimum) and 10 (maximum). The highest grades of 8, 9 and 10 are rarely awarded. Generally, a grade of 6.0 or more is a passing grade, and a grade of less than 6.0 is a failing grade. However, it is up to the provider/partner and/or home institution to determine the appropriate grade conversion for students. Transcripts from VU Amsterdam will always come with grades based on a Dutch grading scale, which then must be converted to the grading scale of the host institution. 

ECTS % Quality Assessment ECTS grade Dutch grade
10% Excellent/Very good A 8.0 - 10.0
25% Good B 7.5 - 7.9
30% More than satisfactory C 7.0 - 7.4
25% Satisfactory D 6.5 - 6.9
10% Sufficient E 6.0 - 6.4
Fail F 0.0 - 5.0

AVAILABLE AMENITIES AND SERVICES

CEA Staff

Our dedicated on-site staff works to ensure your well-being. CEA staff will assist you with any questions that may arise during your program, help you transition into local culture, monitor your academic progress, and organize cultural and social activities.

José B. Alvarez, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President - Academic Affairs & Initiatives
Amsterdam, Netherlands
José B. Alvarez, Ph.D., serves as CEA’s senior academic leader and member of the CEA Executive Team. José sets CEA’s academic vision, ensuring the alignment of all academic offering and projects with CEA's School of Record and university partners. In addition, he is responsible for establishing and managing CEA’s external Advisory Board, in order to further innovate our curriculum and increase the diversity of our academic offerings. José also plays a strong collaborative role in CEA's U.S. university engagement initiatives to support the alignment of our messaging and training regarding CEA’s academic programs and expertise.
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Featured Program

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STEM in Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Study in the model city for engineering and urban planning. Immerse yourself in a world of cutting edge technology and data that works to improve city services and environmental sustainability. With the STEM in Amsterdam program, you can dive into courses in the Faculty of Science and choose from a list of about 100 courses in English. Study Computer Science, Mathematics, Biology, Health Sciences, Geology, Environmental Sciences, and more. Many courses even include a laboratory component, so be sure to check the course descriptions for details. CEA students are integrated directly with degree-seeking international and Dutch students. This program is offered in Fall, Spring, and the Spring-Extended semesters.
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