Course Selection Process

How to build your curriculum
If you do not choose to follow a Minor programme then the steps below will help you choose courses and structure your semester. Please note Minor programmes are only available in the fall semester.

Please refer only to these links as these courses are open to international students and will be taught in English. Please note the following:

  • Although Semester in Amsterdam students choose from the same courses as exchange students, Semester in Amsterdam students are not an exchange student.
  • The links above reflect the current course lists. The course lists for the new academic year are posted in July and the timetables are published a few months before the start of each semester.
  • Most courses are offered each year however students applying for the fall semester should note that course lists for the new academic year will not be published until July.
  • Until the new course lists and timetables are posted your choices are provisional and subject to change. For this reason we suggest having back-ups.
The academic year is divided into two semesters. The first (fall) semester consists of periods 1-3 and runs from August to January. The second (spring) semester consists of periods 4-6 and runs from February to 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.

Some courses require pre-knowledge or prior courses in a related field. The entry requirements, recommended background knowledge, and target audience will be indicated on the course description page.

In general, you should choose courses which match your level. Undergraduate courses at VU Amsterdam range from level 100 to 300 with 100 being first year/introductory, 200 being second year/middle, and 300 being third year/advanced. If you wish to take a 200-level course you should at least be in your second year of Bachelor study. If you wish to take a 300-level course then you should at least be in your third year of Bachelor study.

Master courses range from 400 to 600. In addition to course-specific entry requirements, students interested in following Master-level courses must also meet the admission requirements for the graduate degree programme to which the course belongs. This includes submitting a copy of your Bachelor diploma and proof of an English proficiency test result.

Courses from the faculty of Economics and Business Administration are particularly strict with entry requirements. If you do not have experience or a degree in Economics and Business Administration but still wish to take courses in this faculty then you can only choose from 100-level courses and we will need to conduct an extra check to make sure you meet all entry requirements.


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 each per period. We do not advise students to take more than 3 courses in one period unless one of these courses spans two periods.

If you would like to take courses from different fields of study we recommend pairing courses from the same field and at the same level in each period. For example: two 200-level history courses in one period and two 300-level computer science courses in another period. To avoid overlaps in the timetable we do not recommend taking courses from different fields and different levels in the same period.  

As an alternative to taking a course in periods 3 or 6 you can take an extra course in a prior period, such as an elective, and thereby return home in December or May as opposed to January or June. Our Dutch electives are offered in the evenings and are guaranteed not to overlap with your other courses. Please confirm with your home university or provider if you are required to take a Dutch elective. You are responsible for including the elective on your course selection form if it is required.