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BELGIUM - ISEP Vesalius College

History buffs and international relations enthusiasts will feel at home in Brussels, which is home to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters. Deepen your knowledge of international affairs and business through Vesalius College’s small classes (taught in English) and a variety internship options. Learn the culture with a homestay with a Belgian family, and indulge in Brussels’ myriad culinary treats: waffles, fries, and – perhaps most importantly – chocolate! 

This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.

Learn More about Vesalius College in Brussels here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Experiences of Former Students

Read a real student’s perspective on studying abroad at Vesalius College on the ISEP blog.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).


Brussels is known as the “Capital of Europe.” A city of approximately 2 million, it is the home of NATO and the European Commission. While largely francophone, Brussels is surrounded by Dutch-speaking communities, a peculiarity of interest in this small country with three national languages (French, Dutch, and German). Visitors will be fascinated by the international and multicultural nature of this “small big city”, but will be comforted by the fact that nearly everyone knows at least some English, which is one reason many tourists call Brussels one of Europe’s friendliest cities. Brussels is also the home of some of the world’s most famous foods, drinks and cultural icons, such as “Pommes Frites” (French fries), waffles, chocolate, thousands of different types of beers, comic books (i.e. “TinTin”), Hercule Poirot, Eddie Merckx and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Brussels’ relatively central location offers an ideal starting point for international travel. Brussels is only 162 miles from Paris, 198 miles from London, 194 miles from Frankfurt and 108 miles from Amsterdam. Public transportation within Brussels as well as to and from Brussels is plentiful, well-designed and economical. For longer trips, students can find attractive fares on high-speed trains or discount airlines.

Learn More about Vesalius College in Brussels here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.


By virtue of its location in Brussels, the heart of the European community, Vesalius College has targeted the three disciplines most relevant to the expertise available in the local academic and professional sectors. The Business program thrives on the knowledge of professors and guest lecturers with experience in the headquarters of large multinational corporations. The Communications program has its fingers on the pulse of the latest in international communication by virtue of Brussels being the home of the world’s largest press corps. As the home of NATO and heart of the European Union, Brussels feeds the International Affairs curriculum with the most knowledgeable experts in the field of public policy and European studies. Students can then confirm and apply the theory they acquire in class by participating in prestigious internships in the public and private sectors in such organizations as NATO, the United Nations, Ernst & Young, MasterCard, and many more.

Over 300 international students of over 50 nationalities attend Vesalius College every semester, providing a truly cosmopolitan and culturally enriching environment. With class instruction in English, associated with a Dutch-language university and located in a French/Dutch bilingual city, Vesalius College offers something for everyone.

Classes are small and interactive, with no more than 25–35 students per class (sometimes as low as 5 or 6), allowing for personalized attention from professors. 

Vesalius College also offers a unique programme that provides insight into the changing nature and fundamental challenges of contemporary security issues from a distinct Brussels perspective. The European Peace and Security Studies Programme (EPSS) features five interrelated courses offered by Vesalius College and its partners, including the Royal Military Academy and the Institute of European Studies. The courses, which are all offered in English during the fall semester, can be taken separately, along with other courses from across the curriculum. If all five EPSS courses are taken within the fall term, however, the student will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the term. The programme also includes a lecture series, which sees prominent academic and practitioners of the field of peace and security give lectures on a particular topic and then engage with students and other experts.

Study abroad students can also benefit from specialty seminars and workshops that feature some of the key decision-makers and opinion leaders in the European Union and that are held at the College. Please see the following link for more information.

Many institutions use a formula to convert ECTS credits to local credits, but ISEP recommends that the home institution also take into account the total number of hours in the classroom. It is ultimately the home institution policy that determines how the credit will transfer. 

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 168 total contact hours, or show in their syllabi that they are earning 672 total work hours. Alternately, a student may take 28 ECTS credits at Vesalius.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 126 total contact hours, or show in their syllabi that they are earning 504 total work hours. Alternately, a student may take 21 ECTS credits at Vesalius.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

As this program was designed in conjunction with a US liberal arts college, the professors understand the unique higher education system and culture of US students. Most professors will be European. Professors are often more formal than those in the United States, though still concerned with student success.  Some classes may tend to involve more lecture than group work or discussion, as is the norm in Europe.  

For Direct students, who may enroll at partners of Vesalius, please be aware that partner institutions may have different schedules, and an even more formal learning environment.  Students wishing to take coursework at the conservatory may need to submit a portfolio.

Academic Notes

  • Please note that, due to differences between European and American learning outcome expectations for foreign language instruction, the level (course number) at which you are placed in the Vesalius College language programme may not correspond with the course level achieved at your home university; it may be lower. You should inform your home university advisor of this potential discrepancy and should request that your home university grant you language credit, even if the language ‘course number’ you take at Vesalius is lower than what you would take at your home university.
  • Students wishing to take a 300-level (advanced) political science course on the European Union will be required to take a European Union aptitude test during orientation week (fall and spring). Those that fail the test will not be allowed to register for the 300-level EU courses until they have participated in the EU crash course, which will be organized, free of charge for the student, in the first week of classes.
  • Every semester, the college offers “Art in Europe” (ART 301) specifically for study abroad students at an additional fee of €795 (billed to the student). This course offers field trips to various European cities, with an in-class seminar introducing each trip and highlighting the art, culture, and architecture of each city.
  • Internships can earn 3 to 6 US credits depending on the number of hours worked per week.
  • Certain Vesalius College free elective courses are offered by academic partners such as the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the Royal Military Academy, the Royal Music Conservatory and others. Students should note that some of these courses follow the Belgian academic grading system and the Belgian academic calendar, i.e. they start and end later than regular Vesalius College courses. Not all free electives have different dates, only the one or two offered by Brussels partner schools. ISEP Direct students can take these courses at no additional cost other than the extended housing cost. 
  • If courses for the next fall or spring semester are not available yet, students should review courses currently offered for fall or spring. Fall semester students should review the fall semester schedule, spring semester students the spring semester schedule as they may be different. 

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system.

Student Life


Vesalius College was founded by a collaboration between the Dutch free University of Brussels, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Boston University in order to provide university education in the English language in the heart of Europe. Vesalius is located in the center of Brussels and is surrounded by several universities and other institutes of higher learning, including the VUB and the ULB (the French Free University of Brussels). Although the Vesalius campus is small to accommodate a small student body, the campus is nestled against that of its parent university, the VUB. As such, students have the same privileges that VUB students have, and access to the facilities of the much larger free university, including sports facilities, cafeteria, classrooms, health services, libraries, etc. Vesalius College is conveniently located within rapid walking distance to metro and train stations as well as to tram and bus stops. 


Orientation will take place when students arrive on campus and will include various information sessions, a tour of campus, lunch and evening activities with local Vesalius students. During orientation, students will also take any necessary language placement tests or other aptitude tests, have their computer accounts activated, interview for internships and register for courses. On the final day, students will go on a tour of Brussels. 

For information on arranging for your own pickup and transport from the airport, please click here

Students staying with host families are expected to arrive on Sunday that precedes the first day of orientation.


Many extracurricular activities are sponsored by the Vesalius Student Government (VSG) and the associated Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The VSG organizes regular student parties, outings, ski trips and other activities. Sports include soccer, basketball, swimming, athletics, and fitness at a world-class fitness center. ISEP students can also participate in student-driven academic activities such as college publications, forums, and assemblies. 

  Internship Opportunities

The Vesalius Internship Programme (VIP) offers semester-long, unpaid, graded internships with such distinguished partners as NATO, the European Parliament, Citibank, MasterCard and much more!  

Vesalius College is committed to offering students the best opportunity to be successful in their professional lives. We want to offer our students not only valuable academic preparation but also the opportunity to gain professional experience before they graduate.

Vesalius College offers a variety of internships to students. Our internship partners are prestigious and internationally renowned organizations and companies, ranging from European institutions to small start-up businesses, from think tanks to international corporations.

Sample internship sites can be found here

Internships are available with high-profile public and private organizations throughout Brussels. They are competitive, credit-earning and graded. Students wishing to participate in the Vesalius Internship Program must have completed at least half of all of their academic credits towards graduation. They must also respect the strict application guidelines and deadlines set forth on the web page of the Internship Department as well as submit internship applications directly to the Internship Coordinator.

As part of the ISEP application, any student potentially interested in applying for an internship must attach to a copy of their resume/CV and a general cover letter that outlines his/her internship objectives, preferred job responsibilities and qualifications. 

Housing and Meals

ISEP Direct: Students are required to live with a host family that provides 11 meals per week. However, Direct students are not given a stipend to cover the additional meals and must pay for this out of pocket.  Host families are committed to enriching the study abroad experience for students. All families are able to communicate effectively with students who have no knowledge of French or Dutch.

Please note that any reference to a refundable housing deposit of €500 does not apply to ISEP students.

Students staying with host families are expected to arrive on Sunday that precedes the first day of orientation. Please refer to the Vesalius College website for housing application deadlines.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. For students that participate in ISEP Direct to Vesalius, the program fee includes orientation, on-site director, university fees, housing, and insurance, but few meals.  Many of the other estimated out-of-pocket costs will be similar. However, as Direct does not include meals, you can assume you will spend an additional $600/month on meals.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item



Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost for Southern Hemisphere programs, as that starts a new academic year.


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Confirmation and Application Fees


ISEP-required health insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance, which may be instead of, or in addition to, ISEP insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.


Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office

Program Dates

Fall: Mid August to Mid December

Spring: Early January to Early May

All dates are tentative and may change. ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.

Program Type


THIS PROGRAM DOES NOT ANTICIPATE OFFERING EXCHANGE FOR 2019-2020, ONLY DIRECT. The chance of placement for Direct is Excellent. However, if you are not applying for the internship component, you must list an exchange program as the first choice. Good options may be the program at Rennes, Artevelde, Tilburg, and many others.

Languages of Instruction