Leiden University

Leiden University

Founded in 1575, Leiden University is the oldest university in the Netherlands, and one of the most prestigious universities in the world globally (#68, THE 2019).

The university continues to retain world-class professors (in the past, Albert Einstein was one of them!), and builds on its world-class reputation for sciences, humanities, and international programs. The birthplace of Rembrandt, Leiden is a beautiful canal city located 13km from the coast. While its population is only around 120,000 people, it is easy to navigate by bike and is located only 20-40 minutes from the cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht (which make excellent weekend or day trips), and only 15 minutes from Schiphol International airport.

Key information


English, Dutch


Fall, Winter, Academic year

Program type


Application information

Application status



2024-2025 applications

First come first considered for limited remaining space until 

Winter 2025: August 15, 2024

University-specific additional requirements

Minimum GPA 3.0. See Eligibility section below for details.

2025-2026 applications

Open November 1, 2024

Program detail

Areas of Study: 
UL offers a wide selection of subjects including Anthropology, Archaeology, Art & Art History, Asian Studies, Biology, Biomedical Science, Chemistry, Dutch Studies, English, Fine Arts, History, International Relations, Law, Life Science (Biology), Linguistics, Math, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology and more. You can use the course search feature to search for courses in English.

Course requirements:
In Europe, full-time course load is typically 30 ECTS (European credits), and exchange students at Leiden are typically expected to take 24-30 credits per semester. 6 ECTS = 3 UCalgary units (1 half-course). 
The amount of credits each course is worth corresponds to the workload/contact hours, and can vary from 1-30 ECTS per course, so please be mindful of this in your selection. 

Please note that in the Netherlands, approx. 75% of your courses should be taken within the same faculty, with the other 25% either within that same faculty or one other faculty, if you meet the prerequisites. Please note which Faculty you plan to take the majority of your courses from in the Course Selection field of your online application. 

Student Tip: "The courses were quite different than those at UCalgary and had this interesting discussion atmosphere. The readings were from European sources which was interesting, and for the Dutch studies course, taking it while also exploring the Netherlands was hugely valuable and really taught me so much about the country. Learning firsthand how the EU works and what effect that has on individual people has made me appreciate differences in how European countries work and how people live compared to Canada. Now I see the things in Canada that are kind of special to us, and also appreciate the meaning of things I hear on the news about other countries. I now have a sense of how much bigger the world is and how many people there are living different kinds of lives from mine."

The academic year is divided into 2 semesters.

  • Fall semester runs from late August to mid-January. It may be possible for students to complete the Fall semester in December, depending on courses offered. Speak with the exchange advisor for more information. 
  • Spring semester runs from mid-January to early June. 
  1. Costs

    Exchange students pay their tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider. 

    It is recommended that students budget €900-€1400 per month to pay for accommodation and living expenses. Cost of living estimates can be found online
    Leiden cost comparison vs. Calgary.


  2. Funding

    Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange? 
    Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.

    Our office administers several awards, including the Global Access Fund (based on a funding-first model where students apply prior to committing to a global learning program) and the Global Learning Award (students apply after being accepted to a global learning program; the amount varies year-to-year as the money is split among chosen recipients). Students may only receive these awards once. Please see the funding page, linked below, for more information.

    Student Savings Tips:

    • "Vodafone has a great pay as you go bundle for 15 euro/month with 100 mins/sms and 2.5 GB of data that can be used ALL OVER EUROPE! For an extra 5 euro you can get some international mins to call Canada." 
    • "Renting a bike from easyfiets is a good way to go - they will let you buy/rent a bike during orientation week."
    • "Though exchange students don’t get a train discount (on NS Rail, the Dutch line), for €50 you can travel off-peak (weekdays after 9am and weekends, so basically all the time) with a 40% discount. You need a personal OV Chipkaart which requires a Dutch bank account. It’s worthwhile to do this early, otherwise it can take a few months to recover the €50. You can also take 3 friends with you and also get the same discount. More info here."
    • "ING is a good bank to bank with in the Netherlands – you only need a Canadian SIN  (not the Dutch BSN number). It's easy to open and their phone app is in English (online is Dutch only)."

Exchange students accepted by UCI are eligible to apply for housing as soon as they have been accepted. Students in Leiden can apply for housing through Leiden University. Due to limited availability, housing is not guaranteed, but students who apply by (or preferably before) the Leiden document deadline and ensure all documents are submitted and the housing deposit has been paid early in the process have a higher chance of placement either in Leiden or in The Hague (an easy 15 minutes' train commute from Leiden).  Housing is very tight in the Netherlands so please apply as early as possible. 

Housing may be in the form of "student rooms", which have up to 10 private bedrooms on a floor with shared bathroom and kitchen, or in "student apartments", which hold one or two students in a small apartment with full amenities. Rent depends largely on the type of residence; most rooms are €400-€600 per month while apartments are €500-€800 per month. Please note that rent, like in UCalgary residence, is charged based on the entire semester - so for those finishing early in December, rent will still be charged for January.

UL also provides some advice for students who must find their own housing. Additional information is online.

Student Tips: "I stayed in a hotel for a few days before my housing contract started Sept 1. You can have your contract started one half month earlier, but you pay rent, so you can either pay money for rent or book a hostel/hotel for part of orientation week. I stayed in a small studio in Kloosterpoort building. It had an amazing location in Leiden. Everything (bed sheets, pillow, duvet, kitchen set) was provided, brand new. I had to buy a wireless router but there was wifi available. There was also no gym in residence but many nearby. There were also restaurants and many grocery stores and an amazing market outdoors on Wednesdays and Saturdays, right by residence. Food in Leiden is probably even cheaper than in Canada. The easiest option for accommodation in Leiden is going through the housing arranged by the university - it can be limited in Leiden. Those that couldn't find private accommodation in Leiden lived in the Hague (15 min away by train)."

This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in any faculty at the U of C, who have completed at least 2 full years (20 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B) or greater.


Do I have to speak Dutch? 

UL offers many courses in English and so no prior knowledge of Dutch is required for this exchange.

Student Tip: "You really don’t have to know Dutch, but knowing some basics is nice to be polite. It also does help to know it so you can read signs and such, but for the most part everyone does speak English."

What's special about Leiden?

Student Tip: "Keep an eye out on the weekends for events, usually there is something going on that’s worth seeing. And get a museumkaart; it will get you into all the museums for free! Leiden alone has a whole bunch and it’s so easy to get to other towns, so it pays for itself very quickly. Also make sure to get the 40% discount OV-chipkaart to visiting other towns in the Netherlands without worrying much on cost. If you get the 9292 app on your phone for checking train times it’s very easy to just hop on a train and be at all kinds of interesting Dutch towns in only a half hour. Delft and Gouda are particularly nice."

What resources are available to new students?

UL hosts "OWL" at the start of each semester, an in-depth orientation week which is designed specifically for international students and has a variety of informative, cultural, and social events. Also make sure to check out the Study in Holland page for more information!

Student Tip: "There was an orientation week, which introduced me to fellow students which was useful, and took me around to various campus locations which was also useful. The orientation week was a largely social activity, and after that most social activities were through the International Student Network which was strongly paired with the university and recommended, along with Leiden United. The clubs are very very helpful, and I would recommend joining them because they’re the best way to meet not just Dutch students but students from all over the world. I think the best thing to do is to kind of try everything at first and then eventually narrow down to the one(s) you like the best and keep going to those."

What supports or services are available at Leiden?

UL provides comprehensive academic support to students with disabilities. For information on accessibility and support services of campuses across Europe, please check out Inclusive Mobility. For city-specific services and places in Europe, the Jaccede interactive platform (website and/or smartphone app - both Android and iOS) also provides a searchable user-built database to identify important accessibility information of public places and locations.

Have questions?

Global Learning 101

Please watch this short YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment. In these videos, you will learn much of the basics about Global Learning, which may answer your initial questions.

Watch Global Learning 101

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how this program might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Global Learning Advising

If you have questions, please reach out to our office! We offer drop-in advising for general inquiries, and if you have questions about this specific program or any others, you can book an appointment with the responsible advisor.

Please use the link below to find the most up-to-date information about our current advising options.

View the Global Learning Advising page

The exchange advisor for this program is: Tara Jorgensen

How to Apply

Download the application guide

This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.

Application guide

Identify three programs of interest

We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.

Check requirements and deadlines

These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular global learning program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Global Learning Advisors will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

If you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Global Learning Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.

Please note: All participants must adhere to COVID-19 and other vaccination-related requirements for the destinations visited on this program. Failure to do so may have consequences such as being denied access to accommodation/housing, program activities, or to the host country itself.