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First, it is important to have a clear picture of where you want to go, with what purpose and what study you would like to do. Start well in advance to compare different destinations. Here are a number of tools to help you make a well-informed choice for one of the universities in the Global Exchange Programme.


If you found a suitable destination, you are ready to start the online application. Have you read all the information and you still have questions? Please read our FAQ or contact International Student Affairs (BIS).

Compare destinations

Consult the digital world map to explore your options. Select a university and find a clear overview with its basic information. Below you will find some things you should keep in mind while making a choice.

  • Application open for: the level of study, either bachelor or master courses.
  • Possible Study Areas: the study programme/departments that are open to UvA exchange students as well as restrictions that might apply for certain areas.
  • Academic Calendar: an indication of the semester period at the host university. Please note! Please use the UvA academic calendar indication for your online application. For example, if you apply for an exchange at University of Auckland from July to November (their session 2 or second semester), you should apply for a first semester exchange (i.e. the UvA semester) in our online application system.
  • Credit & Grading: an explanation of a full-time course load. Compare this with the ECTS system to convert the number of credits you should obtain.
  • Language of Instruction: the medium of instruction during courses and the language requirements for exchange students. It is not necessary to sign up for a language test yet. If you will officially be nominated, you will receive instructions to take a language test.
  • Accommodation: the housing options and the possible assistance the host university offers in arranging accommodation.
  • Costs: the estimated expenses as indicated by former exchange students.
  • Important websites: visit the website of the international office for elaborate information about the exchange programme.

Explore cultural differences

Through study abroad you gain experience in adapting to different cultures and habits. If you want to develop your cultural skills, you will need to deepen your understanding of your own culture and compare it with the host culture.

Examining different destinations and visiting host university websites is a first step. You will soon discover that other universities are structured differently, lessons are taught in other languages and professors are using other teaching styles.

For more insight into cultural differences, you can compare two countries based on the cultural dimensions of Geert Hofstede.

Finding courses by yourself

Do not contact the host university. Searching and finding courses can be a difficult task. Until you have been officially nominated for an exchange by International Student Affairs (BIS), you are not supposed to directly contact the host university. All contact with the university should run through BIS.

To find courses you need to search through the website of the host university by yourself. The Digital World Map will provide a link to the website of the host university and possible study areas; it may be that some study areas are not open for exchange students.

With the guidelines in the digital world map you can browse the university websites for possible courses. Please note that this is only a wish list of desired courses. The actual course registration will take place after you are indeed nominated for the exchange. Refer to the FAQ for tips on choosing courses, study level, course codes and the recognition of courses.

Estimating costs

Studying abroad often costs considerably more than studying in the Netherlands, including travelling costs. Prepare your budget well in time to control your spending. Find the estimated expenses of an exchange in the Digital World Map. Most university websites also provide information about the likely costs of your stay, your visa and so on. Refer to ‘Financial matters’ in the ‘Practical Matters’ menu for information about possibilities to fund your study abroad and preparing a budget.

Language skills

Since courses abroad are usually offered in English or the language of the host country, it is important to be fluent in this language at an academic level. The Digital World Map specifies the language of instruction and the required proficiency level. Although you may already sign up for a language test, this is not yet necessary. Are you in need of language support? Then check out the course offerings of UvA Talen or sign up as a language buddy for ISN Amsterdam.


A number of universities requires students to take an English language proficiency test. However, this is only required after the UvA nominated you for the exchange. Depending on the university you are asked to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

  1. TOEFL: This test approximately costs 240 USD and is administered by computer at various locations in the Netherlands. Students are advised to practice, this can be done online.
  2. IELTS: The UvA offers students who are nominated for an exchange the possibility of a reimbursement after doing the IELTS test. 

Spanish, Portuguese

For an exchange in Latin America you are required to have proficiency in the Spanish or Portuguese language at an academic level. English courses are usually not open to exchange students or are very limited. During the selection process it will be assessed what language acquisition you have already obtained and what future activities you will undertake to achieve the Spanish/Portuguese proficiency level needed for exchange. For example:

  • Upload certificates and diplomas of language courses
  • Upload a plan of action (if you do not meet the required language proficiency yet)

 Curious whether you have mastered the required level of Spanish or are you seeking expert advice on learning opportunities to achieve the required level? Please contact the institute for Spanish language and culture, Molinos de Viento, for an intake appointment. The costs for this initial interview are €25.

Global Exchange Ambassadors

Are you curious about how other students experienced their study abroad adventure? Please contact one of the Global Exchange Ambassadors, a mixed group of recently returned exchange students and international students currently on exchange at the UvA. On our website and Facebook page, they will tell you why they went abroad and what the benefits are.


Searching for inspiration? The Global Exchange Ambassadors publish the Exchange Express twice a year; a digital newsletter intended for UvA students who are on exchange and international students studying at the UvA. The newsletter covers several fun stories and photos from students who spend a period abroad.

Need help?

International Student Affairs (BIS) offers training sessions to help you choose your study abroad destination. During the workshop ‘Choose a Destination’ you learn about the Global Exchange Host Universities and what the differences are. This workshop will provide a number of tools to make a well-informed choice for one of the universities in the Global Exchange Programme. These sessions will be organised several times and will be announced under News and Events.