Loyola University Maryland

International Programs

Leuven: Information for Parents

Program Director

Ms. Renee Harris
Associate Director
Office of International Programs, HU 136
Phone: 410-617-2910

**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.

Thank you for your interest in our study abroad programs! The goal of this page is to help you better understand the Leuven study abroad program and highlight distinguishing features and components that will interest you as a parent. More detailed and updated information are given to your son or daughter in information sessions, academic reviews, workshops, and pre-departure orientations. Once you read this information, we strongly encourage you to discuss this with your son/daughter who might be able to fill in some of the gaps. Please know all information is given to the students and we ask students to share all of this with you.

Sending students abroad is a partnership with students, parents and the university. We realize that you will have questions and if our website or your son/daughter cannot answer those questions, we will be happy to discuss the study abroad process and program information with you. Please keep in mind that due to the FERPA federal regulation, we will not be able to discuss specific information regarding your son/daughter; however, if your son/daughter is willing to sign a waiver form indicating the specific information to be shared with you, we will be more than happy to discuss specific matters regarding your son/daughter.

We hope you find this information helpful in assisting your son/daughter to accomplish his or her goal of learning, living, and serving abroad.


Founded in 1425, K.U.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. The K.U.Leuven 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. 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 before 5:00 P.M. the Wednesday after Thanksgiving break.
  • Course Planning Form is also required and must be submitted before 5:00 P.M. the Wednesday after Thanksgiving break.
  • Students must be able to find courses which fit into their Loyola degree program and allow full-time participation, but students should have course alternates (2-3 extra courses) in case of registration problems, 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. However, you still must apply by the above deadline and submit the Course Planning Form by the above deadline. As part of the appeal process, you must submit the following documents 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
    • 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 child’s degree program matches the course offered abroad
  • Make sure your child has declared his/her 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 his/her major advisor the possible courses he/she can take abroad, and see if there are any potential problems he/she sees with his/her 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 for abroad to help with potential registration problems.
  • Your child should discuss with you 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.

Application Requirements

  • Students must submit an online application AND a Course Planning form by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday after Thanksgiving break of the sophomore year to study abroad for the year, 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 a student is conditionally accepted into the Leuven program, it is the student’s responsibility to keep his/her spot in the program. This includes a student’s 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.
  • 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.
  • Your child 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.
  • 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 – 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.
  • This program is designed to primarily accommodate humanities, social science and certain business concentrations (international business, marketing, economics, and general business only) if certain prerequisites have been met.
  • Students should 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 your child plans to pursue graduate or professional education and/or take examinations that requires your child to submit documentation of courses and credits taken abroad, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure in advance of going overseas that his/her courses and credits abroad will be accepted by the graduate and/or professional schools that your child 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 earned abroad.
  • Students have to follow the same prerequisites for courses abroad as they would at Loyola. Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure they 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 students 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 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.
  • Please consult the Financial Aid office regarding your financial aid package.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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);
  • 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.

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 alice.wilcox@frosch.com 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 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.

On-Site Support

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 and needs. The on-site director works with the students to ensure academic success and leads trips to various historic and relevant sites. 

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.

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:

  • Student’s name
  • duration of coverage (date of departure straight through date of return)
  • includes hospitalization and accident coverage (at the minimum)
  • what the plan specifically covers
  • coverage limits

Housing and Meals in Leuven

Loyola International Nachbahr Huis is a student residence where students of different nationalities live together. The residence is located in the center of Leuven, in a 17th century convent. One wing of the Black Nun's Convent was restored in 1991-1992 by Loyola University Maryland, a Jesuit university from which every academic year a group of around 20 students come to study a year abroad at the KU Leuven. These students live together with approximately 45 mostly European students (Belgians, Italians, Spanish, Polish, Irish, etc.). Usually there are 12-14 different nationalities represented.

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 live with an international student.

Money and Banking

Students are encouraged to open up a Belgian bank account. The associate director assists students with this task over the summer. By opening an account students become eligible for medical insurance while abroad. Students should still keep their U.S. bank account. They will still have access to their U.S. bank accounts through the ATMs throughout Europe.

You should check with your bank to make sure that the student’s debit/credit card will work overseas, and find out what fees are associated with using the account internationally (do the same with any credit cards). Students in the past have recommended withdrawing the maximum allowed from ATMs while in Leuven, and then keeping their cash in their bedrooms while bringing out only the amount that they need each time they leave home. This will save on ATM fees.

Students will be able to withdraw money from any ATM in Europe (as long as the account has a debit card instead of an ATM card). You should also check to see if your bank is partnered with any European banks. Usually in that case, students can use the partner’s ATMs for free or for a very low fee. Credit/Debit cards are not as widely accepted in certain European countries as they are in the U.S. People tend to use cash more frequently. Students should make sure that they are signed up for web banking for all accounts that they will be using overseas. That way they can monitor any fees that are being charged, as well as know their balance in American dollars. When using ATMs in Europe, all information and dispensed currency will be in Euros. Check www.xe.com for the current currency conversion.

Credit Cards

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.

Expenses While Abroad

Living in Europe for ten months can very expensive. It seems that most students who studied in the Spring 2015 semester spent from $500-$9000. It is very important that students are conscious of their money from the very first week. It is easy to not think about it until they realize that they have gone through half of their budget in the first month. The Leuven program includes some meals while on trips and dinners, so that does help controlling costs.

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 Abroad 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.

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