Loyola University Maryland

International Programs

Katholieke Universiteit-Leuven, Belgium



Loyola operates a program at Katholieke Universiteit at Leuven (KULeuven). Founded in 1425, KULeuven is the oldest Catholic university in the world and one of the premier academic institutions in the Lowlands. This picturesque, historically rich university has a vibrant intellectual and social life. KULeuven has about 40,000 students; almost 6,000 of whom are internationals. It is world-renowned for philosophy and theology, but our students take courses in many other departments as well.

Belgium is a very small country located in the heart of Europe. It is bordered by four countries: France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg. There are 9 million people there, and three official languages (Dutch, French, and German), though English is widely spoken. Leuven is a town of 50,000 people that is located 20 miles east of Brussels, in the Dutch-speaking Flanders region. It is less than three hours by train to Amsterdam, Cologne and London, and just one and a half hours from Paris. In Leuven, the campus is the city and vice versa. With its cobblestone streets and impressive gothic architecture, it is a quaint and charming city that pulses with the life of the university.

Criteria for Applying

  • Typically sophomores with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 may apply.
  • If you have a CQPA between 2.8–2.99  then you may apply for an appeal.
  • An online application with a brief essay must be submitted by December 3 (Wednesday after Thanksgiving break).
  • Advisor's signature is required on application.
  • You must be able to find courses which fit into your Loyola program and allow full-time participation.
  • You cannot be on disciplinary probation nor have a history of serious disciplinary problems.
  • If you have a CQPA between 2.8– 2.99, then you may apply for an appeal to PECS’ Admissions Office. As part of the appeal process, you must submit the following documents by January 10, 2014 to the Office of International Programs:
    • a letter from you explaining why you did not meet the minimum, cumulative GPA requirement of a 3.00 and why you still want to study at KULeuven for the year and not another study abroad program.
    • an unofficial transcript from Loyola that includes 3 semesters of undergraduate studies
    • an official transcript from any previous institution (s) -  transfer students only
    •  a recommendation letter from a Loyola faculty member that can attest to your academic abilities (strengths and weaknesses). The letter from the faculty member should be in a sealed envelope and sent directly to the Office of International Programs by January 10, 2014.
    • a list of possible courses you would need to take abroad.
    • The above items will be evaluated and a final decision will be made by the PECS Admissions Office in Belgium. Once all information is submitted to the Office of International Programs, it will be sent to KULeuven. The later you submit the documents the later the final decision on your application. A final decision from PECS may not be made until after February 1. 
  • Attend an information session on Leuven.
  • Attend a registration session to determine if your degree program matches the course offered abroad.
  • Discuss with your major advisor the possible courses you can take abroad and see if there are any potential problems he/she sees with your plans to study in Leuven.
  • Academic reviews will be based on current course offerings.
  • Registration will take place abroad and the course offerings for the term you will be abroad will be finalized overseas.
  • Save as many electives for abroad to help with potential registration problems.
  • Discuss with your family if taking a summer course(s) is an option to help with any unexpected academic problems that could occur at Loyola or abroad.
  • Criteria for Remaining in the Program

    Studying abroad is a privilege that students have to earn by receiving and maintaining the required cumulative GPA to be accepted into the Leuven program. All students must also demonstrate through their disciplinary record (both on and off campus) to the Office of International Programs they are able to represent Loyola University Maryland and the United States through the display of personal responsibility, honesty, and integrity for oneself and others by making wise choices and avoiding risky and/or harmful behavior that could jeopardize their privilege to study abroad and/or harm the reputation of Loyola University, the host institution and their fellow students.

    Therefore, once you are conditionally accepted into the Leuven program, it is also YOUR responsibility to keep your spot in the program. This includes maintaining both your academic and disciplinary records at Loyola, which the Office of International Programs will review a second time prior to your overseas departure. Please note the requirements below.

    A) All students should have at least a 3.00 (no rounding up) cumulative GPA at the end of their spring semester prior to studying abroad at KULeuven. Those students who appealed to be admitted and are accepted below the admissions requirement of 3.00 must continue to improve their overall cumulative GPA by the end of the spring semester prior to going abroad.

    If a student drops below the cumulative GPA on which he/she is accepted, the initial acceptance can be rescinded by either Loyola, KULeuven or both and the student will be financially responsible for any payments made on his/her behalf  at the time of removal from the program. This includes but not limited to airline tickets, housing and tuition deposits or full payments, etc. The student will be billed for these items.

    Summer school (away or at Loyola) will not be considered if a student drops below the admissions GPA requirement.

    B) In addition to maintaining the academic requirement to study abroad, a student must also maintain the disciplinary requirement and not get into ANY disciplinary trouble after being accepted into the program. When a student gets into disciplinary trouble AFTER receiving his/her acceptance, this strongly indicates to the Office of International Programs the student is not taking the opportunity he/she has been given to study abroad seriously, and it could also be an indicator of potential behavioral problems while abroad.

    If a student receives any disciplinary sanctions after being accepted into the Leuven program, he/she can be removed from the program and the student will be financially responsible for any payments made on his/her behalf. This includes but not limited to airline tickets, housing and tuition or full payments, etc. The student will be billed for these items.

    Five Myths About Studying Abroad in Leuven

    [All of the statements in quotations were said to our interviewers directly, usually in response to the question, “What do you think I should know about what it’s really like to study at Leuven?” Or, the statements came from the written evaluations section on rating the program from a learning perspective. The responses are based on conversations with several of our program directors and some local, national and international students.]

    Please note: many European courses base an entire semester’s work on one oral or written final. That’s it!

    1) “You don’t really need to go to class; you can get everything you need to study for the final from the Powerpoints." 

    Try to find a local student who believes this. If you do, it’s very likely that he or she is a first-year student. Many foreign universities have an approximately 50% failure rate in the first year. Do those odds appeal to you? Several educational systems do not take attendance. They consider it the student’s responsibility and “job” to come to class and do her work without needing constant reminders. They have no qualms about failing large numbers of students at the end of the semester if they did not do what they were supposed to do. Going to class is your first encounter with the material and the professor’s priorities. It establishes the basis from which you can then work for mastery of the material on your own. Professors have been known to mention something in class not on the Powerpoints and it will then show up on the exam. Professors have often mentioned “recommended reading” in class, which turned out to be critical on part of the exam. You will need a lot of academic self-discipline in order to succeed abroad and you cannot wait to be told what to do every day. (More on this below). 

    2) “It’s not really necessary to pace yourself because it’s totally possible to do a whole semester’s worth of work during the exam period, which is really long by American standards.”

    The study and exam periods can indeed be long, but we are talking about a semester’s worth of learning. And any educational psychologist will tell you that relying exclusively on your short term memory when taking an exam is a recipe for failure. The European and other international systems give you a great opportunity to structure your own workload, free of the burden of quizzes and midterms. Frantically cramming in everything in the last two weeks is not structure, it is craziness. It also all but guarantees that you will remember very little of the material and you are very likely to receive a very poor grade. Also note that even though the exam period may be three weeks long you might, by luck of the draw, end up with three or four exams in one week, maybe even the first week! You will need a lot of academic self-discipline in order to succeed abroad and you cannot wait to be told what to do. Successful local students spend a lot of time working on weekends and prior to the study period in order to do well academically. Thus, one American student was heard to say after a bad exam, “I just wish I had had one more day to study,” when in fact she had not started until the end of the semester.

    3) “Since the classes are often boring and over our heads, it is hard to care about them as much as I would at Loyola.”

    Many foreign systems are not as interactive as the American educational system. Some require very little, if any, active participation from undergraduate students. Professors have spent their entire professional lives becoming experts in their subjects. Undergraduate students are expected to learn from them, under their guidance. In these systems, undergraduate students are expected to demonstrate first how much they have learned, how much they know, before they can present their own opinions on a subject. It is very important to take very detailed notes during such classes. Some Loyola students find these different educational traditions “boring” because they are not interactive. They are, however, an integral part of the international experience that enables our Loyola students to take integrated courses so they understand better how other nations educate their students to compete with our students in our global economy.    

    One great advantage the European system and some foreign systems have over Loyola is the long ‘shopping period’ (think drop/add) they might offer at the beginning of the semester. However, in order to benefit from this, it is important to go to more classes than you will ultimately need FROM THE BEGINNING of the semester. The idea is NOT to go to one class for a week, decide it’s not for you and begin another --- in that case you have joined the second class a week late and may have missed crucially important information. The students who put the most effort into class selection also tended to be the most satisfied.

    4) “Failing a class is not that big a deal because you can always re-take the final exam.”

    Although this is technically true in countries that allow re-sit or re-take exams, re-sitting an exam in no way guarantees a better result; since months have gone by, it may well be more difficult to excel than it would have been when the material was fresher in your mind. Most re-sit exams also have a ceiling for their grading (no higher than a C, for example, depending on the system). In the case of failure in a fall semester course, preparing for a re-sit also takes time away from your preparation for spring exams. In addition you may only be allowed to take a re-sit exam between August 20 and September 7, which can prove to be difficult.

    5) “It’s impossible to guess what will be on the exam so it makes me feel like I have to study everything, which is so overwhelming that I lose motivation.”

    Well, yes, you are expected to know everything that you have studied for that course. A final exam can ask questions about a point that was briefly discussed in class but that the student was expected to study further on her own. Successful Belgian students, for example, explain that they understand the purpose of studying to be mastery of the material: that’s the ideal. So in a very real sense they are not just studying to pass a test, but to exhibit their ability to command the material. This is a perspective on studying that many American students do not encounter before graduate school. Remember the case of a student who told us “I studied all 30 topics in the class except for two. And wouldn’t you know it, those two topics were among the three questions I got.”  Mastery is the key.

    Final recommendation:

    Don’t panic! Students have consistently adapted to these different systems and done very well. It’s not impossible; indeed it’s not necessarily more difficult; but you need to be aware of what’s going on. You have to be proactive and tailor your academic habits to fit the new environment. Indeed, some students miss the freedom and responsibility of the European system when they return to Loyola, but that of course depends on each individual.


    • All courses are taught in English.
    • All courses, grades and credits transfer from KULeuven to Loyola and are calculated into the student’s GPA.
    • All students must take one 3-credit course in Dutch.
    • You will be in the classroom with other Belgium and international students.
    • Loyola students will be studying in a European educational environment at KULeuven. As an example, for many courses offered at KULeuven, there may be only one test in the course, the final examination. The final examination can be oral or written and this final examination grade will be your final grade earned in the course.
    • There are some lower (initial), master level courses offered at KULeuven that Loyola students take as part of their course program in Belgium.
    • Consult the Office of International Programs as early as possible to get assistance on course selections at Loyola so that you are prepared for Leuven.
    • This program is designed to primarily accommodate humanities, social science and certain business concentrations (international business, marketing, and general business) if certain prerequisites have been met.
    • Registration takes place overseas. You need to have as many course options as possible to counter any registration problems, like a course cancellation or course time conflict. 
    • Consult the Office of International Programs as early as possible to get assistance on course selections at Loyola so that you are prepared for Leuven.
    • If you plan to pursue graduate or professional education and/or take examinations that require you to submit documentation of courses and credits taken abroad, it is your responsibility to ensure in advance of going overseas that your courses and credits abroad will be accepted by the graduate and/or professional schools that you will apply to in the future.
    • Overall, students who study at KULeuven do just as well at KULeuven as they do at Loyola. However, grades earned abroad can be higher or lower than what has been earned at Loyola. Loyola students will be learning in a different educational environment and this may reflect in their grades abroad.
    • Students have to follow the same prerequisites for courses abroad as you would at Loyola. Therefore, make sure you have satisfied any prerequisite(s) in order to be able to take certain core or major courses at KULeuven.
    • All students should have at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA at the end of their spring semester prior to studying abroad at KULeuven. Those students who are accepted below the admissions requirement of the cumulative GPA of 3.00 must continue to improve their overall cumulative GPA by the end of the spring semester prior to going abroad.
    • If a student drops below the cumulative GPA on which he/she is accepted, the initial acceptance can be rescinded by either Loyola, KULeuven or both and the student will be financially responsible for any payments made on his/her behalf (airline tickets, housing, tuition, travel assistance plan, etc., at the time of removal from the program.
    • Summer school (away or at Loyola) will not be considered if a student dropped below the admissions GPA requirement.
    • Official transcripts KULeuven are usually received in late August or early September. Due to this delay, students are often not able to be considered for dean’s list that semester.

    Length of Stay

    • This is a year-long (two-semester) program only.
    • The first semester runs from late August through mid-December, and the second semester runs from early mid-January through June.


    • Dorm-style living; 67 total residents.
    • Two or three students are assigned to a room in our house, which also accommodates other international and Belgian students. 
    • Live with 40 Belgian and international students in the Loyola International Nachbahr Huis. There are usually around 13 nationalities represented in the Huis each semester.
    • Meals are not provided every day. However, students have access to a full kitchen with refrigerator, a stove, microwave oven, and all necessary kitchen utensils (pots/pans). Every resident has his/her own kitchen cabinet that can be locked.


    • Students are eligible for consideration for all forms of federal, state, institutional and private sources of aid, with the exception of the federal work-study assignment.
    • Loyola's financial aid can be used on this program.
    • All students must have a comprehensive health plan, which includes hospitalization and accident coverage that can be used while overseas.
    • All students must have a valid passport. The passport must have at least 18 months left after the study abroad program end date.
    • Students who receive college work study and study abroad may lose their college work study for the returning semester to Loyola. Contact the financial office for specific information.
    • Students will have to pay an Immigration Fee upon arrival. 
    • Bedding is not provided, but linens can be bought upon arrival.
    • Students should budget for any start-up costs associated with study abroad.
    • Students pay a study abroad fee and a reduced comprehensive fee. Accepted students must submit a study abroad deposit to hold his/her spot in the program.
    • Please consult the financial aid office regarding your financial aid package.

    Items not included in the Loyola charges but that should be budgeted for:


    • *Meals (past students suggest budgeting $1,500–$5500);
    • *Passport;
    •  Bedding packages;
    • *Immigration fee (to enter and stay in Leuven);
    •  Cell phones and other communication expenses;
    •  Medical and dental check-ups (immunizations up to date);
    • *Start-up costs (bedding, etc.);
    • *Health insurance (if you do not have a health plan that is valid abroad);
    •  Travel to and from the departure city/airport (United States);
    •  Personal travel (hostels, hotels, airline or rail tickets, food, etc.); and
    •  Bike rentals (optional and most students do not purchase).

    Unexpected items:

    (These items do not normally occur but could happen depending on the student and unforeseen circumstances):

    • A hotel stay abroad for an emergency (snow storm or flight cancellation);
    • Lost keys or room damage which you will be billed by Loyola;
    • Illness (payment of services rendered expected at the time of service); and
    • Summer school (student is behind in their degree program or a course is not offered abroad).

    Credit Card

    All students should have a major credit card in his/her name. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than the American Express card. You should alert your bank that you will be studying and traveling abroad. Discuss what option would be the best card for you while you are overseas.

    Counseling and Disabilities Support Services

    Students studying at KULeuven have limited access to the counseling and support center there. There are some restrictions regarding visiting students and services available to them. There may be a wait time to see a counselor and there are limits to how many sessions students can have. Appointments with a psychiatrist may require the use of the student's private health insurance. If students are currently seeking counseling in the States and would like to continue it abroad, students must contact the associate director in Leuven before departure to make the necessary arrangements in advance. Last minute requests may take longer to arrange and this is not recommended.

    KULeuven has a Disability Support Service office. This office supports international students, but there are limitations on what services can be provided to study abroad students. Accommodations and services provided by the Disability Support Service office may not be the same abroad as the services provided at Loyola. We encourage students to meet with Loyola's disability support service office to discuss their options for abroad and to inform the associate director in Leuven before departure to make the necessary arrangements in advance. Last minute requests may not be accommodated.

    Documents for Abroad

    Currently, the following documents are required to travel and study in Leuven:

    • Valid, signed passport (with 18 months left after the program end date);
    • Student visa (requirements can change at anytime);
    • Immigration fee  (obtained in Leuven at City Hall in Leuven);
    • Letter from health insurance company verifying health coverage that is valid abroad;
    • Official letter of acceptance from KULeuven;
    • Letter of support from Loyola University Maryland; and
    • Photos for visa, KULeuven application and file in Leuven

    Internships in the States and Studying in Leuven

    • Due to the dates of the Leuven program (August – June), it may be difficult to arrange for a summer internship after studying abroad. Please keep this in mind when applying to the Leuven program.

    **Please keep in mind that study abroad information, dates, benefits, and fees are subject to change without notification. You are encouraged to contact the Office of International Programs directly for the most up-to-date information regarding any study abroad programs offered at Loyola.