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Courses & Credits

The program curriculum includes one required course, up to 4 elective courses, and an optional independent study project. 

ACM students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher are eligible to apply to take electives in the honors college at VU (including the ACM visiting faculty director's course).

There are three options for arranging your course schedule:

See the schedule page for an illustrated semester schedule.

Option 1 (15 credit hours):

4 electives (2 per period)
Dutch Language/Culture

Option 2 (15 credit hours):

3 electives (divided among the 2 periods)
Dutch Language/Culture

Option 3 (18 credit hours):

4 electives (2 per period)
Dutch Language/Culture

Recommended credit is three semester credits for each course. Except for Dutch language study, all courses are taught in English. There may be prerequisites for some elective courses.

  More information about credit distribution and grades

Elective Courses

Instructors: VU Amsterdam faculty
Choose up to 4 elective courses, 3 semester credits per course

View elective course options, which include VU Amsterdam minors and any VU Amsterdam courses offered in English.

ACM students have the option of choosing a set combination of courses in one specific field, known as a minor. Minors are organized in 10 fields in the natural sciences, and some fields are divided into two tracks.

In most fields, two courses are offered in Period 1 (September - October) and two courses in Period 2 (November - December). Course lists for the minors are published well in advance, so students can communicate with an advisor in the VU Amsterdam International office during the application process and finalize their course choices shortly after they are admitted to the program.

Students can concentrate their studies within one minor of study, but can also take any courses from the general curriculum that are taught in English. See the course catalog for undergraduate students for a full list of courses.

The Upcoming Energy Transition

Instructor: Kathleen Greene, Beloit College (ACM Visiting Faculty Director)
Elective course, 3 semester credits

This interdisciplinary course, offered in the Honors College, will examine the move from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable energy, both locally and globally. The Netherlands offers a case study for examining sustainable energy resources and innovations in coastal engineering to counter the effects of climate change and rise in sea level. Site visits are planned to the coastal wind farms. This course is hosted by the Earth Sciences Department.

Dutch Language/Culture

Students choose one of the following semester-length courses:

Discovering Dutch

Instructor: VU Amsterdam faculty
Required, 3 semester credits

In the course, you will learn to speak and understand the Dutch language at a basic level. The course is very interactive in nature. Part of the lessons will take place in the digital language lab; lecturers will personally coach you. In four additional workshops, you'll also learn about Dutch culture and society and will explore some of the highlights of Dutch history. We also will discuss the stereotypes that exist about the Netherlands and place them within a historical context.

Imagining the Dutch: Themes in Dutch Culture

Instructor: VU Amsterdam faculty
Required, 3 semester credits

In recent years there has been an international revival of interest in national history, national history writing and nationalism both among historians and the public in the Netherlands. Several important questions arose, such as: Who are the Dutch? What are the Netherlands? What is typically Dutch about Dutch history? And how should we deal with these questions from a historical and academic perspective?

The lectures of the course focus on themes and periods in Dutch modern history and will cover a wide range of topics such as the history of Dutch polders, democracy and ‘pillarization.’ Central to the lectures is the question, how unique or common Dutch history actually is, by focusing both on important events and periods in the history of the Netherlands, as well as on concepts and on debates in Dutch historiography.

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Independent Study Project

Instructor: ACM Visiting Faculty Director
Optional, 3 semester credits

Students have the option of enrolling in a semester-long independent study project (ISP) during their time in Amsterdam, under the direction of the visiting faculty director.

Students can choose to take the ISP course in addition to their 4 elective courses OR in place of one of their elective courses.

There are countless topics to explore over the course of your time in the Netherlands. Projects may be conducted in a wide variety of fields in social sciences and humanities. ISP topics in the natural sciences are possible, although use of laboratories and equipment at VU Amsterdam cannot be guaranteed.

Topics are linked to the program location and are expected to emphasize research in the community, including interviews and observation. Students also have conducted projects in the arts that reflect their experience in the host culture. At the end of the program, students typically present their projects to the group. Students are encouraged to formulate projects to fit their individual interests and/or their program of study at their home campus.

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Credit Distribution & Grades

The course credit you receive for the Amsterdam program is determined according to policies at your college. Check with your advisor and college registrar in advance to find out how much credit you will receive and how it will be distributed, especially if you plan to use your courses in Amsterdam to fulfill college or departmental requirements.

Grade reports

All students who complete an ACM off-campus study program receive a grade report which lists their courses, credits, and grades. Most colleges accept this grade report as an official academic document. If a college requires an official academic transcript, ACM can arrange to have an official transcript issued through Beloit College for a $350 processing fee. To request an official transcript, students must make a formal request through ACM at the time of acceptance.