**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.
Loyola operates a program at Katholieke Universiteit at Leuven (KU Leuven). Founded in 1425, KU Leuven 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. KU Leuven has about 45,000 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 80,000 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. Students must submit an on-line application along with a Course Planning form by 5:00 P.M., December 2, 2015 (Wednesday after Thanksgiving break).
- If you have a CQPA between 2.8–2.99, you may apply for an appeal. You must complete an on-line application, submit a Course Planning form, and a brief essay before 5:00 P.M. December 2, 2015 (Wednesday after Thanksgiving break).
- You must be able to find courses which fit into your Loyola program and allow full-time participation, but students should have course alternates (2-3) in case of registration problems abroad, like time conflicts or a course is canceled.
- 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 9, 2015 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 KU Leuven 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 8, 2016.
- 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 KU Leuven. 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.
- Make sure you have declared your major and/or minor before submitting the on-line application.
- Students who apply for study abroad but have not declared their major will be turned down for study 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 interviews will be based on current course offerings. This information is subject to change.
- Registration will take place abroad and the course offerings for the term you will be abroad will be finalized overseas.
- Save as many electives (not used for minors or double-majors) 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.
Due to the dates of the Leuven program, it may make it difficult or impossible to obtain an internship in the States.
- Students must submit an online application AND a Course Planning form by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 2, 2015. (Wednesday after Thanksgiving break) of the sophomore year to study abroad in the fall or spring term of junior year.
- All students must declare their major, and minor if applicable, prior to submitting their online application.
- Undeclared majors will be turned down automatically.
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. Students must also demonstrate through their disciplinary record (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 Belgium program, it is YOUR responsibility to keep your spot in the program. This includes your academic and disciplinary records at Loyola, which the Office of International Programs will review a second time prior to departure.
Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 by the end of the semester prior to going abroad. Not maintaining the cumulative GPA of 3.00 could result in removal from the program. Summer (at Loyola or away) school will not be considered as an appeal to remain in the Leuven program. Students will be financially responsible for any bills incurred by the Office of International Programs on the student’s behalf. This includes but not limited to airline tickets, housing, tuition deposits or full payments, student visa, etc. The student will be billed for these items.
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.
- All courses are taught in English.
- All courses, grades, including F’s, and credits transfer from KU Leuven to Loyola and are calculated into the student’s GPA.
- All students must take one 3-credit course in Dutch in the fall semester.
- Students register for courses upon arrival in Leuven. Therefore, it is very important that students have enough course options (12-14) to counter any potential registration problems.
- Students must register for a 1-credit European Culture and Civilization course each semester while abroad.
- You will be in the classroom with other Belgium and international students.
- Loyola students will be studying in a European educational environment at KU Leuven. As an example, most of the courses offered at KU Leuven, will only have one test/final exam. If you pass the one final exam, you pass the course. However, if you fail the final exam, you fail the course. This is typical of any European university system.
- The final examination can be oral or written and this final examination grade will be your final grade earned in the course.
- A limited number of courses are offered through the PECS program, which is designed for study abroad students. The majority of the courses offered on this program are KU Leuven courses that are undergraduate and initial master level classes.
- 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 only) if certain prerequisites have been met.
- 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 KU Leuven do just as well at KU Leuven 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 KU Leuven. Also, KU Leuven has prerequisites that you will have to satisfy in order to register for courses abroad.
- Course information is subject to change without notification. It is best to have as many course options as possible when studying abroad for the year.
- All students should have at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA at the end of their spring semester prior to studying abroad at KU Leuven. 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, KU Leuven 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 from KU Leuven 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.
- Students who plan to attend graduate/professional schools after Loyola, or students who must submit official transcripts from abroad to governmental or private agencies should confirm if the grades and credits earned abroad will be accepted by these organizations.
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 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 20th and Sept. 7th, 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 thirty 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.
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.
Leuven Course Equivalencies
This is a working list of the course equivalencies for the Leuven, Belgium program. Also, there is a special list of course approvals for Global Studies majors.
The course approvals and equivalencies provided are the most current for the Office of International Programs. Once accepted to a study abroad program, students will have an academic interview with the appropriate director and will be advised on their course selection.
Please be advised: All students are solely responsible for informing themselves about the status of these courses and ensuring the courses taken abroad will fulfill degree requirements for graduation. Course approvals and equivalencies may change at a moment's notice. This means you should confirm if the following courses are approved, or if the courses have been removed.
If there are other courses you desire to take, and they are not on the course equivalency list; you must get written course approval by the department chair. The courses that you choose should fit into your degree audit and enable you to graduate.
- Students are elegible for consideration for all forms of federal, state, institutional and private sourses of aid, with the exception of the federal work- study assignment. Contact the office of Financial Aid for specific information.
- Federal work-study is forfeited for the entire a student is abroad.
- 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.
- Bedding, towels, and kitchen supplies can be rented and reserved your arrival in Belgium. You should factor this into the budget.
- 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);
- Bedding packages;
- Cell phones and other communication expenses;
- Medical and dental check-ups (immunizations up to date);
- Renting bedding packages (appr. $25 for the year)
- Renting kitchen supplies
- Refundable room and key deposit (approx. $115)
- *Start-up costs (bedding, etc.);
- *Health insurance (if you do not have a health plan that is valid abroad or you purchase the recommended Belgian health plan while 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: approx. $75 per year).
- USPS overnight mailing envelope for receiving your visa documents.
**These program benefits are subject to change. They are reviewed and updated every year. Please consult your program director for the most recent list.
The Loyola-Leuven Program is a fully packaged, comprehensive study-abroad option. In 2015-2017 it will be directed by Elizabeth Kennedy, a faculty member of the Sellinger School of Business, assisted by a permanent part-time Belgian associate director, Christel Snels. The below information is subject to change.
- Tuition and registration fees
- Housing with Belgian and international students in Loyola International Nachbahr Huis
- 10-day trip to Italy guided by the program director – subject to change
- Trip to France (Paris, Brittany, and Normandy) guided by the program director –subject to change
- Weekend trip to Amsterdam guided by the program director –subject to change
- One day trip guided by the program director –subject to change
- Trips organized by PECS (KU Leuven): Flanders Fields, Antwerp, Brussels, Tongeren, - student pays for and is subject to change
- Several free meals: welcome meal, home cooked meal at director’s house, Thanksgiving dinner, Easter dinner or lunch in Tuscany, Spring barbecue
- Two welcome receptions (beginning of each semester) at the Director’s house
- Two-round trip tickets, students come home for Christmas (2 1/2 weeks)
- Sponsored student activities, such as international dinners, Halloween party, Christmas party, Valentine’s party, bowling, ice-skating
Length of Stay
- This is a year-long program.
- Students depart in late August and return to the States just before the Christmas holiday.
- Students depart in early January to return for the spring semester and leave late June to return to the States.
Housing and Meals
- Students live in Nachbahr Huis, a student residence building for the year.
- Nachbahr Huis has an international community that is made up of Loyola students and Erasmus students attending KU Leuven.
- Students can choose to live with international students from around the world.
- Meals are not included in the program.
- Students buy produce and other food products and cook in the huis kitchen.
- Each floor of Nachbahr Huis has a kitchen with stove, refrigerator, and table/chairs. In addition, each student receives a personal bin with a lock and key in the kitchen cabinet to store non-perishable items.
- Students can rent kitchen supplies to use during the year.
- Students can choose to live in a double or triple room. Some rooms have a loft at the top of the room.
- Students are encouraged to room with an international student.
The program has a Loyola faculty member who is the director of the program for a two year cycle. The program also has an associate director who is a Belgian native and who is responsible for the resident community and assisting students in their acclimation to Leuven. The associate director is in constant contact with KULeuven’s Student Affairs Office to coordinate any other student affair’s needs. The on-site director works with the students to ensure academic success and leads trips to various historic and relevant sites.
Travel to and from Belgium
- Group flights are arranged for students traveling to Leuven. Student departures are usually from Newark International Airport on United Airlines.
- Students fly to Brussels International Airport, where a bus with the director, Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, will take you to Nachbahr Huis in Leuven. The student residence is approximately 35 minutes away.
- Once the departure city is determined, information on carry-ons, luggage amounts, and restrictions will be given to the student. Here is the link for United Airlines. Information on carry-ons and baggage is subject to change. We encourage students to review the airline carrier’s website information on a monthly basis due to the many changes airlines make.
- You may contact Alice Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org to make any changes on the return ticket only. No changes will be made if it will jeopardize the group flight arrangements or cost.
- Due to registration taking place abroad, we do not know in advance when each student’s last final examination will be. If students want to change their return ticket only, they will have to contact Frosch Travel, not the Office of International Programs, to facilitate the change.
- Loyola will not be financially responsible for any changes or fees a student and/or parent makes to existing arrangements. Students and parents should consult the Office of International Programs before making any changes to confirm if Loyola will reimburse for any additional costs.
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 (allows students entry into the country and requirements can change at any time);
- Letter from health insurance company verifying health coverage that is valid abroad;
- Official letter of acceptance from KU Leuven;
- Letter of support from Loyola University Maryland;
- Passport-size photos for visa, KU Leuven application, and file in Leuven
- Prepaid envelope with a tracking system (to receive your passport and visa)
- Students who will be 21 years of age or older BEFORE departure will have to obtain an FBI background check as part of the visa application. Students over 21 will need to budget for the cost of obtaining the background check report.
- Residence Card (obtained at City Hall in Leuven
Health and Wellness Abroad
- The Office of International Programs want students to be healthy and safe while abroad. KU Leuven is a full university and offers services to international students, but there are limitations on what services can be provided to study abroad students. In addition, students need to remember Dutch is spoken at KU Leuven and the Flanders part of Belgium. However, most students will tell you that most people speak English.
- Not all services may be available or offered at the same level Loyola provides support services for students. For example, 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.
- Students studying abroad can experience various emotions, from feeling elated to down in the dumps. This is part of the culture shock some students go through while living overseas. However, if it is more serious than just feeling a little home sick, students should seek the help of a professional immediately.
- If students are currently taking prescribed medications, it is not a good idea to go off of your medications when abroad. It could make a challenging situation worse. Students should inform their physicians they are going abroad, and ask for any recommendations on how to handle specific conditions, illnesses, or medications.
- Students should make sure their immunizations are up to date before departing overseas. You can consult the CDC website or Loyola Student’s Health Center to determine what immunizations are required to study in Belgium. If you currently take allergy or flu shots, you need to contact KU Leuven in advance of departure to see if these shots can be continued while abroad.
- Students with pre-existing medical conditions or documented learning disabilities should alert the program coordinator, OR the appropriate personnel at KU Leuven to ascertain if needed support services, such as a specialist, medications, counseling, or special accommodations, are available abroad. These services and other medical or disability support structures need to be discussed and arranged in advance of departure. Please remember that support services differ in availability and/or scope. 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.
- KU Leuven requires documentation for any learning disabilities, and it must be presented before attending classes. It is strongly recommended that you submit any documentation you have in advance of departure to ensure any support services you may need are 1) available at KU Leuven and 2) can be arranged for you.
- Shipping medication is not recommended, and in some cases illegal. We suggested that you obtain from your doctor and pharmacist enough medication(s) to last for the duration of the program. In addition, we also recommend bringing the name, dosage, and the breakdown of the medication just in case the student needs to purchase a particular medication(s) while abroad. This information should be noted on a doctor’s stationery or prescription pad.
- Keep in mind certain medications considered legal in the United States may be deemed illegal abroad. This should be discussed way in advance of departure, so that other arrangements can be discussed in the event you will not be able to take or obtain a certain medication(s) abroad. In addition, allergy or flu shots may not be provided to our students.
Below are links to various departments at KU Leuven to read additional information:
Health Insurance Abroad
All students must be covered under a comprehensive health insurance plan while studying abroad. As part of your documents for abroad, you will need to submit a letter from your health care provider on their stationary verifying you have comprehensive health insurance for abroad. The original letter you must take with you abroad, but a copy must be made and submitted to the Office of International Programs. The letter should state the following:
duration of coverage (date of departure straight through date of return)
includes hospitalization and accident coverage (at the minimum)
what the plan specifically covers
The Belgium unit of currency is the Euro, which is abbreviated as EUR. You should check the current exchange rate by visiting this website: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/exchange
The easiest way to handle money is with an American ATM card. You should check with the issuer to make sure your numerical PIN number will work abroad. You can only draw from a primary (usually checking) account. Be sure to check with your bank to make sure you ATM card can be used in Belgium and Europe. Check with your home bank to see what fees will be assessed by them.
It is also imperative that your bank knows that you will be going abroad to Belgium. For your protection, the bank will block your credit card for any charge that seems out of the ordinary.
You can use credit cards in Belgium and Europe for everything from drawing cash to buying dinner to taking a cab. While Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express for purchases, American Express offers its card holders some very useful financial services. Check with each company before you depart.
Drawbacks to Plastic
Even with careful planning and strict adherence to a budget, it is very easy to overspend. Finance charges can add up quickly if you extend payment on goods or take out cash advances. It is a good idea to establish an online banking account with your bank at home so that you can monitor your spending in U.S. dollars.
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.