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When and where?

Write down what you want to get out of your time abroad. Working out what you want to achieve will help determine the choices you make. Research your options well, make good arrangements and make sure to consider your study plan carefully.


During your Bachelor’s programme

The most obvious time to go abroad is during the free electives phase of your Bachelor’s programme. You are then relatively unrestricted in the courses you can follow and the credits you earn abroad can generally be counted towards your studies in Leiden.

During your Master’s programme

In general students on two-year (research) Master’s programmes are advised to spend a semester or more abroad. During your Master’s studies you get to analyse your subject matter in more depth therefore a period of study abroad can be very beneficial. Students on one-year Master’s programmes can also study abroad but this can be trickier to organise. If you’re not sure when would be the best time for you, speak to your study adviser.

After your studies

Of course you can also choose to go abroad after your studies, for example to do an (additional) Master’s programme. However this can have its drawbacks, so make sure to read the information on doing an entire Master's programme carefully in advance.


In general different procedures apply depending on whether you will study within or outside Europe. This is especially true for exchange programmes. The EP-Nuffic website is a handy tool for researching possible study destinations. If you have a particular country in mind it’s easier to focus your research.

You can also search through all Leiden University's exchange agreements.

Safe destination
Students cannot travel to or through a region that has been given a colour code of orange or red by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for any purposes relating to their studies
. Always check the travel advice (in Dutch) issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make sure you have selected a safe destination.

Finding out more

A great start to your preparations is a visit to the annual Study Abroad Festival. This event is organised every autumn by Leiden University. You’ll be provided with information about your options, the procedures and deadlines involved, and all the practical aspects of studying abroad. Meet students who have just returned from their study abroad adventure and hear about their experiences. There’s no better way to prepare for your time abroad. 

There are lots of websites and sources that provide useful information on all aspects of studying abroad:

  • EP-Nuffic:information about internships, scholarships and countries;
  • Fulbright: for students wanting to study or undertake research in the United States;
  • AIESEC: an organisation that offers assistance in searching for internships;
  • Wilweg.nl: a website that assembles information on all kinds of possibilities for spending time abroad;
  • Information about finances;
  • Speak to Leiden students who have already been abroad.

Do you still have questions about studying abroad after reading this web information? If so, please contact the study abroad staff at the international relations department or consult our FAQs.

Many Humanities students at Leiden use the opportunity during their studies to go on exchange. But what is exchange, why might students consider doing it as a part of their studies and where can you go?

About Leiden University's minimum safety criteria

BA and MA students intending to travel abroad as a part of their degree programme at the Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University (either for study, internship or research/field work) must ensure that their destination meets Leiden University's minimum safety criteria in order to receive credit resulting from their activities abroad.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Travel Advice

Leiden University uses the advice provided by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a basis in determining the safety of a study activity abroad. Those destinations that have a negative travel advisory (or require travel through an area with a negative travel advisory) are ineligible for credit at Leiden. This includes transfer of credits obtained for study at an institution, credit for an internship, and credit for research paper/thesis resulting from research or field work undertaken in an area with a negative travel advice. These destinations are also not eligible for Leiden University scholarships.

A negative travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes areas where the advice is "Avoid all travel" as well as "Avoid Non-essential travel". These are represented by the colors orange and red on the Ministry's website

If a travel advisory changes to negative after a student has been admitted to a university abroad, or for an internship or research, etc, either before or during the stay abroad, students are required to follow Leiden University's instructions regarding next steps. Please review Leiden University's study abroad regulations for further information.

In case of doubt or questions, please contact the Humanities International Office.

What is Exchange?

Students on exchange spend one to two semesters studying at a partner university in another country. Exchange students:

  • Must go through an application process at Leiden University and are applying for universities with limited spots available (in other words, places are competitive and placement is not guaranteed)

  • Must be selected and nominated by Leiden University

  • Remain registered students at Leiden University

  • Pay their regular tuition to Leiden during their time away, and do not pay tuition to the partner university

  • May receive credit towards their Leiden programme for courses passed at the partner university, depending on approval from the board of examiners

If you are interested in studying at a university that is not a Faculty of Humanities exchange partner, you could consider applying as an independent Free Mover (visiting student), but be aware that there are financial and other considerations to take into account (as outlined on the free mover webpage).

Why Should You Go on Exchange?

Studying abroad on exchange during your degree is a once in a lifetime experience. Even for those who are already international students, and for those who have travelled previously, studying abroad can offer a unique opportunity. It is one semester or two, immersed in the culture of another country, while at the same time creating strong friendships with students from all over the world who are also new to the country and eager to make the most of the experience. It is learning about another education system, and learning about other perspectives on issues. It is truly understanding the cultures you're learning about in textbooks and classroms. It is also learning about yourself, and coming to realize how much of what you do and think is a product of where you're from. It's impossible to come home from studying abroad exactly the same as when you left.

Students have many reasons for choosing to study abroad, and a number of reasons for choosing not to. Sometimes those hurdles are easier to overcome than you think - come talk to us about them and we can explore your options together. Remember...

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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