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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Calendar Year, Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Restrictions: Mason applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Calendar Year, Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA (Undergraduate): 2.5 Language of Instruction: English
Housing: Flat/Apartment Number of Credits Offered: 12-16
Language Courses Offered: Dutch Eligible Population: 02 Sophomore, 03 Junior, 04 Senior
Type of Program: Bilateral Exchange Click here for a definition of this term Area of Study: Mathematics, Philosophy, Public Health, Sociology, Statistics, Government and International Policy, Computer Science, Earth Science, Economics, Environmental Science, Anthropology, Global Affairs, History
Click here for a definition of this term Study Abroad Host: Global Education Office Open to non-Mason Students: No
Click here for a definition of this term Course Equivalency Database: View Approved Courses Program eligible for VA Benefits: No
Program Description:

Free University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands

VU Amsterdam
The Free University of Amsterdam, also known as Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), is a major public university in the Netherlands. With over 24,000 students enrolled it is ranked as the #5 university in the Netherlands and #24 university in Europe by US News and World Report. The university is located in Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, one of Europe's top financial centers, and a major cultural global city. Its metropolitan area has a combined population of 2.5 million people.

Application cycles are open one semester at a time. Applications for the fall/academic year will open around December 1 of the year prior and applications for spring/calendar year will open around July 1 of the year prior.​​

Click through the brochure tabs to learn more about this program.


In order to participate in this program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Students must have completed at least 45 credits at the time of departure.
    • For students applying for fall or academic year programs, this total does not include summer coursework that has yet to be completed.
  • Students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA at the time of application and departure.
  • Students planning to study abroad in the last semester of their senior year should discuss this with their GEO program administrator and major advisor as this may affect their ability to graduate on time.
  • Recent transfer students cannot study abroad their first semester (not including summer) at Mason.

Courses Available

Students studying during fall semester are strongly encouraged to follow one of VU's minor programs.  Each program offers a pre-packaged selection of approximately five related courses that span the entire semester.  Most minors are interdisciplinary and are therefore open to students from any background, however, some minors do have prerequisites.  Student's studying during the spring semester are free to choose any courses open to exchange students. Exchange students who wish to take Dutch classes while they are abroad may do so through the Department of Dutch as a Second Language (NT2 Academy) . Students will have to pay an additional fee to take the course, but reduced rates are offered for exchange students. Students should request more information from the exchange office at VU after they are admitted to the program.

Course Equivalency and Plan of Study

The Global Education Office has a Course Evaluation and Registration System (CERS), which you will use to complete the steps needed to evaluate your courses abroad, and see how they will count at Mason. This database is accessible whether you have already applied, or are just beginning to think about studying abroad. Look at the courses in the database. You are by no means limited to these courses. The database shows courses that have already been evaluated. You can request equivalency for any course not yet evaluated, through CERS.

You are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to look at this institution’s courses ahead of time to see how they will match up to your Mason degree requirements. Talk to your academic advisor about what courses you will need to receive credit for during your time abroad to stay on-track for your degree. When looking at courses keep in mind that course schedules can change. We recommend having twice as many courses approved as necessary.

Credit Conversion

Students are expected to take a full-time course load during their time at the Free University of Amsterdam.  A full-time course load is 30 ECTS units. 

  • 2 ECTS = 1 Mason Credit

This will allow you to transfer between 12-16 credits back to Mason per semester.

Grade Conversion

When transferring courses back to Mason, the credits will transfer but the grade will not. However, you must receive the equivalent of a "C" or above in order to transfer your credit back. Refer to the table below regarding how grades are converted at Free University of Amsterdam.

Free University of Amsterdam Grade Mason Grade
8.0 - 10 A
7.0 - 7.75 B
6.0 - 6.75 C
5.0 - 5.75 *
0 - 4.75 F
Marks exceeding 9 are very rare.  An 8 represents a high level of achievement, while grades 6 and 7 generally account for the majority of passing grades awarded.


Academic Calendar

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

1st semester (Fall) September - January
Period 1 September - October
Period 2 November - December
Period 3 January
2nd semester (Spring) February - June
Period 4 February - March
Period 5 April - May
Period 6 June

Students studying during the fall semester may opt out of period 3 courses in order to return for the start of spring semester at Mason.

Global Understanding

Students participating in this study abroad program will automatically fulfill the Mason Global Understanding core requirement.


Housing at VU consists of furnished rooms with private or shared facilities. Accommodation in Amsterdam is limited and competitive so it is recommended you apply for housing as soon as you've been accepted by VU. Rooms tend to be small and you may find it is common for men and women to live together in the same student house. 

Note: The housing contract with VU will run until the end of the summer. Students are welcome to stay past the end of the spring term but will not get a refund on their housing costs should they decide to leave earlier than the end of their housing contract.

Program Cost 

This is a Bilateral Exchange Program. Students are enrolled as regular students at the partner university, pay Mason tuition to Mason, and pay room and board abroad. Students can use the budget sheets located at the top of this page to see what GEO estimates as expenses.

Program Payments

As this is a Bilateral Exchange Program, students will pay for their tuition as they normally do in PatriotWeb.

Application Fee: A non-refundable application fee of $200 for Mason students. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system.

Administrative Fee: A non-refundable administrative fee of $325 (for semester length programs) or $525 (for year-long programs) must be received in order to confirm your enrollment in the program. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system.

Financial Aid: Students using financial aid are encouraged to talk to their counselor regarding how their financial aid can transfer to their program.


GEO offers a number of need- and merit-based scholarships. All Mason students are welcome to apply:

Application Deadline:

Fall/Academic Year: Early-Mid March*
Spring/Calendar Year: Early-Mid September*

*See the bottom of this page for the exact deadlines for the upcoming term(s).

Visa Information

Once accepted into a program, it will be your responsibility to apply for a temporary residence permit, even for one semester in the Netherlands. This is a complicated process and VU Amsterdam will assist you with your application to the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), but you should expect to have enough funds to cover your full term of study ready soon after acceptance. Please see your Program Administrator for full details. Students who have participated in this exchange in the past found it easiest to provide VU with a certified bank statement from the student or the student's parents' bank account to prove they have sufficient funding to come to the Netherlands. Do not apply for a residence permit until after you have been officially accepted. Visit the page below on the VU website for further details on their immigration process.

Application requirements:*

Application fee: $150 for Mason students.

Official Transcripts: An official copy of your Mason transcript is required as well as copies of official transcripts from any other college or university you have attended.

Passport Status: If you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now.

Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents.

Questionnaires: Read and complete the documents according to the instructions.

*Additional paperwork may be required for this program and can be viewed inside your application.

Application instructions:

GEO Program Administrator

Name Martha Sadler
Phone 703-993-2154
  Make an appointment

Additional Resources

Follow Free University of Amsterdam on Social Media


Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.