Skip to main content

University College Utrecht (Utrecht University)

A quiet street in Utrecht, courtesy of Anna Najduch

Brochure By ID

University College Utrecht (Utrecht University)


Program terms: Spring
Restrictions: Vanderbilt applicants only
Type of Program: Direct University Enrollment
Costs: Budget Sheets
Academic Calendar: Similar to VU
Key Dates:
Term Application Deadline Program Dates
Spring 2021 09/07/2020 To be determined

This program is no longer accepting applications for the Fall 2020 or Academic Year 2020-2021 terms. Students interested in studying abroad in this program during a future term should make an appointment with Dave Brown or come in to GEO drop-in hours Thursdays 1:00-3:00 or Fridays 1:00-3:00. 

At a Glance

University College Utrecht (UCU) is a well-regarded university college offering a liberal arts and sciences curriculum to about 700 undergraduates each year. It is one of two honors colleges associated with Utrecht University, and has been rated the best university college in the Netherlands in Elsevier magazine's student survey each year since 2008.

UCU is organized on an American/British model, follows the American academic calendar closely, and is focused on a broad-based, liberal arts and science curriculum. All courses are taught in English with small courses (no more than 25 students) and an interactive, interdisciplinary approach to learning. Unlike most European universities it is a residential college and all students are required to live on campus. Students come from diverse backgrounds, with 20% of the student body hailing from European countries outside of the Netherlands (most from Eastern Europe), and nearly 10% coming from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the US.

University College Utrecht

Who Is the Program For?

Admission to University College Utrecht is open to sophomores and above. It is expected to be most attractive to A&S and Peabody students, though it is open to all VU students. All courses are taught in English.


UCU is one of Utrecht University's two honors colleges and offers a liberal arts and sciences curriculum along with performing arts. Class sizes are limited to 25 students and the method of instruction is highly interactive and intensive. Each student is provided with a tutor who advises them in their choice of studies or courses, who helps them with any questions or problems they encounter, and who basically serves as their personal coach throughout their stay at UCU.

There are three umbrella departments at UCU: Arts & Humanities, Science, and Social Science. All coursework falls under one of these headings, or under the Academic Core department which offers courses required for all non-exchange students.

Courses for undergraduates are numbered starting with 1, 2, or 3 according to their level: 1 = introductory, 2 = intermediate, 3 = advanced.

Areas of Study

The following are areas of study covered by coursework at University College Utrecht. Some Areas of Study may not receive Vanderbilt course credit (e.g., Agriculture, Fashion Design, etc.) Vanderbilt credit is determined via the course evaluation process.

Anthropology, Art History, Biology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Chinese, Classical Studies, Creative Writing, Criminal Justice, Dutch, Economics, English, Environmental Sciences, European Studies, French, Geography, German, History, International Studies, Italian, Journalism, Law, Linguistics, Literature, Mathematics, Museum Studies, Neuroscience, Physics, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Physiology, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology, Spanish, Sustainability

Course Catalog

Vanderbilt will use the scale shown here to articulate all grades from University College Utrecht, regardless of the subject area or language of instruction.

University College Utrecht Vanderbilt Equivalents

Academic Calendar

The academic calendar at UCU is very similar to the US calendar:

Fall (Semester 1): late August to mid-December.
Spring (Semester 2): late January to mid-May.

There may be an orientation preceding the term; please check the actual dates before buying your airplane tickets.


You will submit two applications. The first is a simple application with very few requirements that determines whether Vanderbilt will nominate you to study at University College Utrecht. Once you have been nominated, you will have a longer list of requirements to submit to Utrecht/UCU to determine final acceptance.

A preliminary course selection will be required at the time of your application to UCU. You will want to begin the course evaluation process early. The application also includes multiple forms, passport photos, a transcript, a copy of your passport, and a personal statement. Nonnative speakers of English and/or Dutch are required to submit a language proficiency form and the results from a proficiency test.

Visas and Enrollment

US and EU citizens (as well as some others) do not require an MVV entry visa to study at UCU, but a residence permit is required (fee associated) for non-EU citizens. You will receive information about necessary paperwork after acceptance. All students will be required to purchase Dutch health insurance covering the period that they are in the Netherlands.


University College Utrecht is a residential college and all students live in one of the residential halls. Students have individual sleeping quarters (mostly singles, some doubles) and share a living room, kitchenette, and bathrooms with 6 to 12 other students. All students are on a full dining hall plan covering breakfast, lunch, and dinner five days a week. On weekends, brunch and dinner are served.


University College Utrecht is situated in Utrecht, a lively city located in the heart of the Netherlands and considered the "gateway to Europe." With 300,000 inhabitants, Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands. And with no less than 50,000 of the inhabitants being students, Utrecht is definitely a college city. Utrecht has a rich history going back almost 2,000 years, and a rich architectural legacy that includes both ancient and contemporary buildings. Utrecht's old city center remains intact, with its gracious parks, picturesque canals, cafes and concert halls. The impressive Dom tower looms above the city centre at a height of nearly 370 feet. Below the Dom, international restaurants, cinemas, museums, clubs, and boutiques give Utrecht a uniquely stimulating atmosphere. Several canals crisscross the city and encircle the city center. Along the canals you will find a phenomenon of which Utrecht citizens are extremely proud: the wharves. These wharves, which provide direct access to cellars, were used for the loading and unloading of ships and the storage of goods in the Middle Ages. These days, they are mostly used as outdoor terraces for restaurants where you can enjoy a drink or meal looking over a canal lit by decorative lights, framing the contours of the bridges.

Utrecht hosts many festivals, including the Spring Dance Festival, the Holland Early Music Festival, The Holland Animation Festival, the Netherlands Film Festival, the Trance Energy Festival, and even the goth-themed Summer Darkness Festival. When not hosting festivities, Utrecht is the stage for "Cultural Sundays": cultural events inspired by a location, theme, or particular art form.

Student Life

Student activities at UCU are largely organized by students themselves through the University College Student Association (UCSA). UCSA organizes student interest clubs, gala parties, and many other events on campus. UCSA consists of about 30 committees and teams that organize activities throughout the year. UCSA also publishes a campus newspaper known as “Boomerang” and runs the college bar.

Panoramic views of UCU campus
University College Students Association
University College brochures and flyers

For More Information

For more information or to ask questions about your GEO application, you may contact this program's advisor via our advising page, or use the Request Info button at the top of this page.

Don't forget your fellow students! Student perspectives can be valuable to your information-gathering and decision-making processes. There may be alumni of this program listed toward the top of this brochure. They are happy to receive emails from you. You can also contact other students who might have gone to UCU or the Netherlands among GEO's Student Ambassadors, or talk to one of our Peer Advisors about study abroad in general.


For more information, visit program homepage.

Fact Sheet

Housing: Dormitory
Minimum GPA: 3
Language of Instruction: English
Language prerequisite: No
Additional prerequisites: N/A
Costs: Budget Sheets
Student contacts: Peer alumni

Photo: A quiet street in Utrecht, courtesy of Anna Najduch


Connect with Program Alumni

Review Existing Course Equivalencies

Contact the GEO Advisor for this program