Exchange Programs

Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium)

Fast Facts

  • Semester: Fall or Spring
  • Housing: No student housing
  • Language of Instruction: English (or Dutch possible)

About the Program

Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven is the largest university in Belgium, with 27,000 students and 3,000 professors. It is located in Leuven, a historic university town of nearly 100,000 residents only twenty minutes from Brussels. As the capital of Belgium, Brussels is an area of economic and political activity. It is the center of the European Community and NATO, and is the home of many multinational businesses and organizations. Belgium is a bilingual kingdom, with most of its population speaking either French or Dutch.

Up to two NYU Law students may participate per year. Students must be second or third-year and have spent at least one full year at the NYU School of Law. Courses are conducted in English.

KU Leuven offers the LLM (Master of Laws) degree, with its courses taught in English, through its Centre for Advanced Legal Studies (CALS). The Centre's focus is on European Law, International Business Law, Comparative Law and European Legal Culture. The LLM program includes visits to a number of European and international institutions each year, such as the European Commission in Brussels, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Students in the LLM program are both Belgian law students and students from the European Union in the Erasmus or Tempus programs. K.U. Leuven hosts approximately 2,000 foreign students from 96 countries, and has a well-established network of international student services, including housing and student life.  Additional information about the Faculty of Law can be found here.

The Catholic University of Leuven was established by Papal Bull on December 9, 1425 at the request of the city of Leuven and with the support of Duke John IV of Brabant. Modeled on the universities of Paris and Cologne, it is the oldest of all the Catholic universities in the world. The university has a rich and tumultuous history as it endured numerous social and political upheavals in the region.

Today, KU Leuven ranks among the top ten European universities. Its exemplary scholarship is maintained through international co-operation and interaction. Each year around 600 international students study at Leuven. Its research-intensive, internationally-oriented multidisciplinary focus is the hallmark of its program.

The university is located in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium. The town owes much of its character to the college buildings dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, many of which were renovated in the 18th century. The building of paved roads, the canal in the 18th century and the expansion of the brewery created a great impetus for trade and population growth. Unfortunately, this prosperity came to a sudden end under the reign of Joseph II when the French invaded. In addition, the two World Wars in the 20th century destroyed much of Leuven and a great deal of the reconstruction work lasted well into the mid-twentieth century. Since then, Leuven has developed into a well-equipped, modern town with a thriving service industry economy and with a good balance of old and new buildings offering a well-designed infrastructure to suit the demands of today's modern town with a rich tradition.


Fall semester: September – February
Spring semester: February – July

Below is an approximation of the semester dates based on previous year’s academic calendars.


Late September Orientation and start of the first semester
Late December Last day of class
24 December - Early January Christmas and New Year holidays
Mid-January Study period (no classes)
Mid-January -Early February Examination period of the first semester


Mid-February Orientation and start of the second semester
April Easter holidays
Late May Last course of the second semester
Late May – Mid-June Study period (no classes)
Mid-June – Early July Examination period of the second semester

During the week before the opening of the academic year, and in the week before the start of the second semester, an orientation program is offered to all new international students at K.U. Leuven. In addition to practical information about navigating the university and the city of Leuven, the orientation offers lectures on Flanders, Belgium and Europe, and social events which provide an opportunity to meet fellow students, as well as a trip to Brugge or Gent. You will receive a registration form by post. Participation in the Orientation Days is free, except for the trip.

Courses and Credit

NYU School of Law students will be expected to take a minimum of five courses (each worth four to six ECTS credits) at KU Leuven in order to earn 12 credits towards their NYU Law degree. Additionally, in order to ensure compliance with all ABA regulations, NYU School of Law requires that all courses be approved by our office before your schedule has been finalized.

A list of courses in English and Dutch available to exchange students can be found here.

Students with sufficient language proficiency may also enroll in the courses taught in Dutch.

NYU Law exchange students will receive credit for courses taken at Leuven. However, these courses will not count towards the student's GPA. They will only appear on NYU transcripts as credits earned through the exchange program, rather than as individual courses at Leuven.

Tuition and Living Expenses

Because this is a revenue-neutral exchange program, participating NYU Law students will pay New York University the normal tuition for a 12 credit-hour semester at NYU Law.

Eating out, entertainment and transportation are less expensive than in New York. KU Leuven has informed us that students can expect to pay the following:

  • Dutch Course (optional): €300
  • Health Insurance: €50/month
  • Residency Permit: €20
  • Rent: €400/month
  • Food, clothes, etc.: €1,100
  • Travel and other Expenses: €1,400

The University has several student restaurants where you can have a meal for less than €5.

Students should budget at least €1,000 per month, taking into account the fact that you are abroad and will potentially spend more money than during a typical semester at NYU. If you plan on traveling around Belgium and Europe, you will need to budget for additional expenses.

Housing Information

Exchange students are referred to the private sector for permanent accommodation since they are not eligible for a place in a subsidized university residence. For assistance, information, and suitable addresses, exchange students are welcome to visit the University Housing Service.

Since you will be staying for only one semester, you will find it difficult to negotiate with landlords, who are seldom prepared to sign a rental contract for less than 10 months. Rather, upon arrival in Leuven, you will receive a list of rooms being sublet by Belgian students who have gone to study abroad themselves for one semester. The list of exchange rooms for the first semester is available from the beginning of July onwards, for the second semester from the beginning of December. It is not possible to apply for these lists from abroad.

You are advised to arrive in Leuven well before the start of the semester to obtain temporary and permanent accommodation. The week before the start of the academic year is the most difficult time to find both temporary and permanent accommodation. All exchange students should notify the International Housing Service that they are seeking accommodation by completing the web form here.

If you have not arranged temporary accommodation before arriving in Leuven, you should go to the International Housing Service. The staff there will provide you with information about available guestrooms. Temporary rooms cost between €15 and €25 per night. Once you have settled into your temporary room, you should go back to the International Housing Service for assistance in finding permanent accommodation.

Passport and Visa Requirements

Obtaining a Visa

Detailed information regarding the visa process is available here from the Consulate General of Belgium in New York. Please note that the visa process may take some time to complete; therefore, students should begin as early as possible.

Click here for specific information pertaining to Faculty of Law exchange students at KU Leuven.

City Registration (Dienst Bevolking)

After registration at K.U. Leuven, students must register at the 'Dienst Bevolking' of the city of Leuven.

As a non-EU student you should supply:

  • your passport, with visa or “Authorization for provisional sojourn“ if required
  • a proof of registration at K.U.Leuven
  • 3 passport photographs
  • a proof of solvency

All changes of address during your stay in Leuven must be reported to the 'Dienst Bevolking', to your exchange coordinator, and to the Registrar's Office of the K.U. Leuven. At the end of your stay in Leuven, you should notify the Aliens’ Registration Office that you are leaving.

Access for Persons with Disabilities

The KU Leuven facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities. If you are interested in the program and will need some special assistance due to a disability, please contact Office of Global Programs who will contact Leuven to obtain information about the availability of needed services.