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Approval and application

For some Bachelor’s programmes a period of study abroad is compulsory. If this is the case getting approval from your study programme is generally quite straightforward. Sometimes specific study abroad places are available or specific universities are recommended. Your study adviser can let you know about the possibilities.

Some study programmes don’t have a compulsory stay abroad but still highly recommend a period of study abroad. Given the nature of these programmes studying abroad is a logical and beneficial addition for students. The most practical period in which to go abroad is during the electives phase of your Bachelor’s programme, or during your one or two-year Master’s programme. In either case you must make sure you reach an agreement with your study programme about what you will do abroad and how you will combine it with your Leiden studies. You should also make sure that the academic credits you earn at the university abroad are recognised upon your return, so they can count towards your Leiden study programme. 

If you would like to spend time abroad as part of your studies there are certain conditions to be met. i.e. you must:

  • be registered as a student of Leiden University;
  • have successfully completed at least the first year of your Bachelor’s programme;
  • have permission from your study programme’s Board of Examiners;
  • have met any additional conditions set by your study programme, for example having a minimum grade point average (GPA) or having completed certain compulsory courses;
  • have met the conditions set by your host university abroad;
  • apply on time;
  • have been selected for a place, either by SEA in the case of a university-wide exchange agreement, or by your faculty and study programme in the case of a faculty exchange agreement.

Whatever you plan to do abroad, you must start making preparations approximately one year before you hope to leave. Application procedures can be very lengthy.  

Applying for an exchange programme

Leiden University has exchange agreements with hundreds of universities, many of which rank amongst the best in the world, for example the University of British Columbia in Canada, Melbourne University in Australia, Waseda University in Japan, the University of Cambridge in England, Uppsala University in Sweden, and the University of Michigan in the United States. You can search all our partner institutions here.

Step 1: internal application and selection
During the internal application procedure Leiden University will check whether you meet the criteria set by your chosen partner university. Make sure to choose more than one university, just in case there are not enough places available at your first choice.

     Erasmus+ programme and faculty agreements
The application procedure for all exchange programmes based on faculty agreements (which includes the Erasmus+ programme and the majority of European exchange programmes) takes place via your own study programme or faculty. You should first contact your international exchange coordinator who can provide you with full details of the application procedure, both in Leiden and at the university abroad. You can apply by submitting the form which can be found on the Erasmus+ scholarship programme webpage. Your application form must be signed by the  international exchange coordinator at your faculty and sent by email to: outbound@sea.leidenuniv.nl .
Application deadlines faculty agreements can vary per faculty, please check the faculty tab

University-wide agreements outside Europe and ISEP

The application procedure for exchange programmes based on one of Leiden’s university-wide agreements takes place via the International Relations department at Student and Educational Affairs (SEA). The majority of exchange agreements outside Europe, including the ISEP programme, fall into this category. You can apply online and select up to ten different universities within your application. As part of your online application you will be asked to upload the following documents (in English!):

  • a recent, certified transcript (list of grades) showing your grade point average (GPA) – this can be requested from your faculty's education administration department

  • a letter of motivation, in which you state why you would like to study at your top 3 selected universities (max. 2 pages – in Word or pdf)

Application deadline University-wide agreements: 1 December! Late applications will not be processed.


Step 2: applying to the university abroad
Only once you have completed the internal application procedure and have been selected for exchange can you apply to the university abroad. You will be supported during this step by the person or department responsible for the programme. In the case of most exchange programmes outside Europe your application will be sent to the partner university abroad by Leiden University. The partner university will review your application and you will then be notified about the results.

Going abroad independently

If you intend going abroad independently, i.e. not via an exchange programme, you should search for the necessary application information and (online) application forms on the website of the university at which you would like to study. Information for ‘non degree-seeking students’, ‘study abroad students’ or ‘visiting students’ is intended for students who would like to study abroad without taking a whole degree programme or earning a diploma at the host university. If you can’t find the information you are looking for try contacting the university abroad directly. Be aware that if you want the credits you earn abroad to be counted towards your studies in Leiden you need to make clear agreements with your study adviser concerning recognition of academic credits.

If you would like to take an entire (Master’s) programme abroad remember that you will no longer be a student of Leiden University during this period. You are therefore responsible for your own application to the university abroad and must make sure that you meet all their conditions of application and admission.

Applying for summer and winter schools

Summer and winter schools are short courses that can easily be followed during the summer break or during class-free periods in the winter. You only need to seek approval from your study programme if you will miss any Leiden classes or exams.

For a place on a summer or winter school you should generally apply directly to the  university or organisation hosting the programme. You can find links to relevent websites in our overview of summer and winter schools.

Applying for an internship

If you will do an internship (also known as a traineeship) at a company or non-profit organisation in Europe you can often apply for an Erasmus scholarship. In other words you can be part of the Erasmus programme, just like a student who is studying abroad at a European university. However you do need to make sure that you find an internship/traineeship that meets all the criteria of the Erasmus programme.

When doing an internship abroad you must make sure that any credits you earn will be counted towards your study programme in Leiden. You should make clear agreements with your study adviser concerning recognition of academic credits.

The Student Careers Centre at Plexus can advise and  assist you in looking for a suitable internship place. Alternatively you can get in touch with your faculty Student Careers Service.

Application for courses (exchange)

Step 1

Complete the Study Abroad orientation form and send this to the Science International Office: outgoing@science.leidenuniv.nl, at least 2 weeks before the online exchange application deadline. Upon request, you can make an appointment with Gloria Schildwacht to discuss your plans.

Please note: for the BSc minor LST and BSc minor MST there are different procedures.

Online exchange application deadlines 2019-2020 

Outside Europe
Fall and/or Spring semester: 1 December 2018

Inside Europe
Fall semester: 1 February 2019
Spring semester: 15 September 2019

Step 2

Submit your application before the deadline via the online exchange application system. In your online application, you can apply for max. 5 different partner universities.

In the section ‘additional required documents’ you need to upload:

  • Your latest transcript of records.
  • One motivation letter in which you explain your motivation for each university of your choice.
  • An overview of courses that you would like to follow abroad (a provisional study plan) for each university of your choice. This is not a final study plan, you can still change your courses later.
  • If applicable, a proof of suffient knowledge of the offical language of instruction at the exchange university.

The selection for the available places at each partner university will be based on students’ performance and the application package.

Step 3

After the selection, you can ask permission of the Board of Examiners for your study plan via your study advisor. Make sure to send a copy of the permission of the Board of Examiners to the Science International Office.

Step 4

The Science International Office (inside Europe) or the Central International Office - SEA (outside Europe) will send your nomination to the partner university. After your nomination, you can start with the exchange application procedure of your exchange university (make sure to check their deadlines!).

Application for a research project or internship

Step 1

Find a research project or internship abroad.

There are no strict application deadlines for research projects or internships. However, there are application deadlines for scholarships and it will definitely take time to arrange all the practical and administrative matters. Therefore we advise to start for a research project within Europe at least 6 months and outside Europe at least 9 months before departure.

Step 2

Complete the Study Abroad orientation form and send this to the Science International Office: outgoing@science.leidenuniv.nl. Upon request, you can make an appointment with Gloria Schildwacht to discuss your plans.

Step 3

Ask the host organisation for an official letter of invitation, including the starting and ending date of your research project, a short research description, the name of your supervisor and a signature. Please note: All research projects need to be supervised by a member of the academic staff + a representative of the host organisation providing the internship.

Step 4

Ask permission of the Board of Examiners, via your study advisor. You can send them the official letter of invitation together with your motivation. Biology students need to complete and send the 'Research Project Agreement’ which you can find on the Biology Blackboard course.

Step 5

Please remember to send a copy of the official invitation letter + the permission of the Board of Examiners to the Science International Office.

Maxime den Ridder - University of Oslo

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