Foreign minors

You want to go abroad for you minor, but you have no clue on how to get started. Well start scrolling and use this Foreign Minor Walkthrough!

1) Start thinking and start early

The best time to start is in September of your second year.
What do you want?
Which courses did you like most?
What kind of master would you like to do? Are transition courses required?
Do you take a special interest in a country?
Do you want to go to a prestigious university?
What languages are you able to speak?
Decide whether you would like to go to a European university or a university outside of the EU

2) Contact your study advisor

Talk about your findings from step 1 and get some useful information           Room: C.117, Building: 101, Gaia                          Room: C.003, Building: 100, Lumen

 3) Contact the outgoing environmental sciences exchange coordinator

Talk about your findings from step 1 and 2.
Especially ask for the different competition by other WUR students. If he says something is highly unlikely because you won’t get through the selection process, take this into account, because the exchange coordinator is 1 of the 4 who actually perform the selection process.                   Room: C.118, Bulding: 101, Gaia
(Contact by mail. The meeting will probably take place in forum, because he works all over the place, so you can’t hop by his office.)

4) Search the courses the various universities have to offer

For European universities, the Erasmus + partners:

For non-EU universities, the overview of the WUR bilateral exchange partners:

5) Start making drafts of your study abroad file
Note: This is the hardest part of the ‘early’ progress. Choose your preference university right!
Select a university as a number 1 pick. You will be writing your motivation letter for this university.
Competition for these bilateral partners differ and you must take this into account. If your marks are not very high (7-8) I would suggest you pick a university with low competition. Since marks play the most important role in the selection process, your second and third pick must be universities with lower competition. This is due to the fact that if you are not selected for a low competition university you will never be picked for one with even more competition. Preferences are taken into account. The saying ‘play high, reach for the stars’ does not apply for this. If your first pick is already a university with low competition, your chances of an foreign exchange are much greater, because you will be chosen over the people who have this as second or third option. Find out which university is popular with honours college students (probably Cornell) and pick another university, because Honour programme students will be picked most certainly above you.

When you have picked a few universities, start browsing courses. This is a very hard process since minors are not really a thing in most of the world. Semesters work different and credits aren’t the same. Most American/Canadian universities will not have posted their courses for the next year, when the WUR deadline passes. Luckily you can change most your courses whenever you get to your university. At least make sure you pick courses that do well for a motivation letter.

6) Write a motivation letter

Writing a motivation letter will take a lot of your time, so be sure you start in time (before Christmas)
Pull your resources: Which MIL-students you know did a foreign minor?
Check out the Nitocra Foreign Minor database to check where people went

Ask the Nitocra Board, at your student association and at your dorm.
Get them to send you their motivation letters. This provides valuable information, points you might have forgotten and a guide through the dark. 

Other sources:
After finishing your first draft, give it to your parents, or someone else with good writing skills and let them read it. Rewrite and repeat.

7) Build a curriculum vitae

Pick a style for a professional look, mostly found on the internet and sometimes even in dictionaries.
Always start with the most recent experiences first. 

Some useful links:
Carrieretijger (Dutch)

Oxford U (English)

Help and Review:
Young KLV (Dutch + English):

8) Get a Transcript of Records at the Forum SSC

This is a file containing all your marks
Ask for a digital one

Additional information:

If marks are missing, because of a cancelled excursion, a serious illness or something similar, ask your study advisors to write an explanatory note. However you must still accompany this with the partial end mark you got for these courses.           Room: C.117, Building: 101, Gaia                          Room: C.003, Building: 100, Lumen

9) The first selection, by the WUR, takes place

The deadline of the WUR for turning in these files is 1 February
Convert all files into PDF`s and sent them to Dennis Duindam

The selection consists of the following criteria in ascending importance:
– Transcript of records / GPA
– Number of ECTS study points/ progress/passed the 1st year BSc
– Motivation
– CV
– Study programme at home and host university
– Number of places available at host university
– Requirements of host university

Some statistics about the 2014-2015 selection (for the following year 2015-2016)
Out of 348 applicants they were able to place 304 students (225 1st choice/46 2nd choice/33 3rd choice).
When you have not been selected, contact Dennis Duindam again, to see which places are left open.

10) You have been selected

For students staying within the EU, get your Erasmus funding

For students going outside the EU, try to get other fundings:

Start to work on your visa. For some countries you will need documents provided by the host university, thus you will not be able to apply for your visa yet. However gathering the other documents necessary in this stage is a smart move.

11) Submit your courses officially to the WUR

Contact your study advisor again. Report your selected courses. He will pass them through to the exam commission. However your selection of courses (and if applicable your proposed individual minor) must also be submitted in SPA  (Study Programme Approval) through SSC-online.

Schedules can change, courses may be full or cancelled and many students change their mind after arrival. You can mail teachers at the host universities for course guides.

When you get back in the Netherlands you can redo your SPA with your study advisor to adapt for the changed courses

12) Get nominated

This is an automated process done by your exchange coordinator.
However when you do your internship in the first semester getting a visa for some countries might be difficult (US). Mail your exchange coordinator to ask whether your nomination process can be speed up, so you can apply while still being in the Netherlands.

13) Apply for the exchange at the partner university.

This is your own responsibility, after you have been nominated.

You will need to fill in application documents provided by the partner university, get the signatures of your exchange coordinator and send the forms to the partner university. It is your own responsibility that this is done in time. Please check the deadlines for application at the partner university. These are not the same deadlines as to apply for the Erasmus grant at WU. Also you should start to contact the exchange coordinator from the partner university. He/she will inform you how to arrange/apply for housing and inform you on further details regarding your exchange. Send applications to the housing facility.

14) The host university accepts. Some last things need to be done.

–           Get your visa
–      Buy a plane ticket. Consider if you want to travel the country afterwards.
Take into account that you want to follow the introduction days.

–           Concerning the US and Canada, apply for a meal plan.
–           Apply at the housing desk.
            Consider asking the study advisor at your host university for advice.
–           Get funding (if not done yet)

See step 10

If this information was not satisfactory, please visit

or contact the author of this walkthrough.

Sverre van Klaveren

or contact one of the other water managers from the foreign minor list: (click to enlarge)

Good luck with finding your foreign minor!