First things first: your options

Nice! You want to go abroad while studying. An excellent idea, you will not only continue your study, but will also learn another culture, the way they tackle problems, the way things are taught. It will impact you positively, showing different ways and how you can improve yourself. Speaking from experience, I can’t think of any negative things about studying abroad. Well, maybe missing your family and friends, but you will obtain an experience not many people have had!

Let’s go over the options. The easiest option for going abroad is an
Following is a bit more difficult, because you need more preparation:
Finally, the most work and time spent abroad is on a
foreign degree.

Of course, no option is possible without any effort. All steps will require you to do some work. I won’t say which is best for you: you have to decide. The only thing I can do is give you some information.

I will first explain each option, what you have to do for each, and the timeline. Of course, there’s plenty of sites out there that will provide you with information, but few describe them the way I liked – so I hope my method of describing the options will help you.

What is it?

  • Internship
    With an internship you will work for about 3 months to maybe even 6 months at a company which is active in your field of study. Most common is to do research, but depending on your study other activities are possible too.
  • Exchange
    An exchange is often 6 months or 1 year of study at another university than your own. You will get credit for the courses you take there, these credits will be listed on the transcript of your original university. Often the courses you take will be instead of selective courses at your own university.
  • Foreign degree
    The duration of a foreign degree depends on the degree you choose and where you study: a Masters often takes 2 years, a PhD often 4 years. You will leave your university after your completed your earlier degree (for example, if you want to do a foreign Masters, you need to have finished your Bachelor). You will be registered at the new university, and are not a student of your university original university anymore. You have to apply for the degree at the university you want to go to, after which you wait for acceptance. After your study you will graduate from that university and will get a diploma from that university.

An internship is easier to arrange than an exchange, which in turn is easier than a foreign degree. Your duration abroad varies as well. I will describe each item in detail on their respective pages, but let’s continue with the items you’re most likely to wonder about when you started investigating going abroad.


When do you have to start organizing your stay abroad?

  • Internship
    6 months to 1 month prior to the execution of the internship.
  • Exchange
    1 year to 6 months prior to the start of the exchange.
  • Foreign degree
    1.5 year to 1 year prior to the start of the degree.


What do you need before you can go abroad?

  • Internship
    Preferably a Bachelor degree diploma while studying towards your Masters degree. Depending on the study you follow, you could get an internship while you’re studying a Bachelor.
  • Exchange
    Preferably a Bachelor degree diploma while studying towards your Masters degree. Because you will select the courses at the other university, they will most likely be in the same degree you follow (Masters level).
  • Foreign degree
    A diploma of the degree required to start of your foreign degree (for example, to start a Masters you need your Bachelors diploma).

Execution (starting) time

When will your stay abroad start?

  • Internship
    Can be at any time of the year.
  • Exchange
    At the start of the semester at the university where you will go to. This is either September or February.
  • Foreign degree
    For a Masters, at the beginning of a university year (often September). Some universities often a mid-year start (often February). However, a PhD that focuses on research only can be started at any time, in discussion with your PhD supervisor.

The duration abroad and the time it needs to prepare will be your biggest constraint. For example, if you just finished your degree and you feel like going abroad for a full degree, you most likely will have to wait a while (due to enrolling and acceptance waiting times). Maybe you don’t want to stay in another country for a long time, then you’re limited to the other options.

If you still want more information and you want an answer to the question “why does it take so long to organise this?”, then you can continue to read more about each different option: