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.
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
There are several options available to BA International Studies students who wish to study abroad:
- Exchange programmes
- Study abroad options other than exchange programmes
Student exchange is a process by which students can study for a semester at a partner university, while students from the partner university study here. Students pay tuition to their home university (BA International Studies students pay their regular tuition to Leiden), and pay no tuition at the partner, although students are responsible for fees relating to housing, books, and other related fees while away. The term "exchange" refers to the fact that the universities "exchange" their students. Because students are not paying tuition to the partner university, it is important that the numbers of students exchanged remain generally balanced; this is one reason why exchange students from partner universities are warmly welcomed to Leiden, and also why there is a limit to the number of places available at each exchange partner.
The International Studies programme has a worldwide network of institutional partners for student exchange. Please see As part of your study programme for more information on student exchange with a BA International Studies partner university.
Information about university-wide partners can be found under the university tab. Please be aware that there are restrictions on some of the universities listed on this website, and that students from certain programmes have priority for some destinations (for example, students from Japanese Studies have priority for the Japanese universities, which means not all Japanese universities listed on the website are ultimately be open for other students).
For further information regarding any of these universities or the application process, students can contact the study abroad coordinator for university-wide partners.
Many programmes within the Faculty of Humanities have long-standing Erasmus agreements with other universities. Some of these may be open to students from other programmes, with certain restrictions. If there is space available following the selection of erasmus students from that programme, BA International Studies students may be able to take advantage of these options. Please note that it is a limited selection of partners for which this option exists, and that priority is given to students from the sponsoring programme. Students from across the Faculty of Humanities, including BA International Studies, may compete for these limited spots (deadline February 15). See this page for more information.
For further information about the universities themselves, you can contact the Humanities Outbound Student Advisor.
Students who are interested in a study abroad opportunity not available through the exchange programme, or who were perhaps not selected for their preferred destination, can choose to study abroad as free movers. A free mover is a student who independently sets up their own study abroad semester, and pays tuition to the host university. However, students should be aware that pre-approval of the intended university is still required, and that students who elect to study as free movers pay tuition both at the host university and at Leiden University, as students must remain registered at Leiden in order to receive credit.
There are no exceptions to this policy, for either Dutch or international students. Despite this, some students elect to take advantage of the opportunity to add a specific university's programme to their studies as a free mover.
Depending on where students choose to go, it can be possible as a free-mover to keep the costs quite affordable, despite the double-tuition. Some universities' tuitions (and associated living costs) can be very reasonable compared to life in the Netherlands. In some cases, there may be no tuition charged at all. Please see the following list of universities and institutions where BAIS students have studied as free movers in the past.
The Board of Examiners BA International Studies has approved the NVIC programme for the Discretionary Space. Please note that the Board added a requirement for the language course: the course Arabic 1 in the NVIC programme is not approved for students who have chosen Arabic in their programme International Studies. However, it is possible for students to take a placements test at NVIC. The result of the placement test will determine if students can take in an advanced course Arabic. The Board of Examiners will accept the results of the placement test and approve the level of the course Arabic for which the students are selected by NVIC.Additional information: the course ‘Egyptian colloquial Arabic 1’ is approved by the Board. This course would only be interesting for students particularly interested in Egypt because it’s a ‘dialect’ solely spoken in Egypt.
Students in this programme are considered Free Movers. Please follow the NVIC ánd Free Mover procedure (see above) to make sure you take the correct steps. See the NVIC website for more information.
The Netherlands Institute in Morocco (NIMAR) is the Leiden University expertise centre for Moroccan Studies. It organises lectures, facilitates research and makes an active contribution to the body of knowledge in the Netherlands on Moroccan languages, cultures and society.
Students interested in the study of Morocco can enroll in the English-taught minor ‘Culture and Society in Morocco’. The minor is accessible for all students of the Humanities and Social Sciences in The Netherlands.
More information: NIMAR website