Global E3: KU Leuven- Belgium



Spend a semseter studying in Belgium at the oldest (from 1425 !) and largest university in Belgium! 

The University of Leuven (KU Leuven) prides itself to be one of the leading European research-based universities, providing top-class academic education and research. Founded in 1425 and member of the LERU league, it is a comprehensive university.  With 56000 students across all its campuses, including 19200 students in the fields of exact sciences, engineering and technology, KU Leuven is the largest university in Belgium and Flanders. It is ranked 47th in the THE rankings, and 34th for engineering and technology. In addition, the university puts emphasis on sustainable entrepreneurship, and has been selected by Reuters as the #1 most innovative university in Europe for the third year in a row!

Leuven is only 20 minutes away from Brussels, the capital of Belgium, which offers many additional cultural experiences – also Belgium cities as Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp are easy to reach by train.

This exchange program is College of Engineering (ENGR) specific, meaning only undergraduate ENGR students may participate. Melbourne and Pitt are members of Global E3, an exchange consortium of over 60 Engineering Schools from around the world. This consortium is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE)

For more information about the university, see the Global E3 KU Leuven page and the KU Leuven website.

Academic Calendar:

    • Autumn Semester: from last week of September till Christmas, with exams till the end of January
    • Spring Semester: from second week of February till the end of May, with exams till the end of June

KU Leuven accepts students for Fall, Spring or Academic Year 


Learning Objectives: 

As an active and engaged participant on this program, you will have the opportunity to develop: 

  • the ability to succeed independently in a foreign education environment. 
  • non-US based perspectives on your field of study and/or future career path. 
  • a global network of peers in similar fields of study and connections with faculty in Belgium.


Partner Information: 

Office Responsible for International Exchange Students
The coordinating administrative person for Global E3 exchange students is Isabelle Benoit, who is located in the office of the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Science.
Contact email address:

Location Description: 

What happens when you mix a 600-year-old university, a lively atmosphere, gorgeous gardens and some truly unique artwork? The city of Leuven is where you'll find the answer. One of the highlights of Leuven is to wander about the streets. You'll see some spectacular architecture, old and new, and with a touch of serendipity, you'll discover quaint little art galleries and charming antique shops, all of which will keep you entertained as you fall in love with Leuven. General information about the city of Leuven can be found at the VISIT LEUVEN website.

Housing Description: 

On-campus accommodations are available to exchange students. There are a large number of off-campus student rooms available, besides a small number of on-campus rooms. Information about on-campus and off-campus housing options can be found at the housing website.

Academic Description: 

At KU Leuven, there are engineering classes from the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science, and Faculty of Engineering Technology conducted each semseter in English.  These vary each semester, so be sure to check the course schedules for your exchange semester.
Use the links below to see if the specific departments offer the types of courses you would like to take while studying abroad.  

Academic Departments: 

The available courses and the schedule (fall course versus spring course) are different for the three faculties:

and check the GE3 KU Leuven website for general course information. The following disciplines are available: 

  • Faculty of Bioscience Engineering:
    • Human Health Engineering, Bioinformatics, Agro- and Ecosystems Engineering, Food Technology, Molecular Biology, Water Resources Engineering

    Faculty of Engineering Science:

    • Electrical, Material, Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, Computer, Nano, Energy, Biomedical and Architectural Engineering

    Faculty of Engineering Technology:

    • Biochemical Engineering Technology, Chemical Engineering Technology, Electromechanical and Engineering Technology, Electronics and ICT Engineering Technology


Minimum Requirements: 

  • SSoE student in good standing 
  • Minimum 2.75 GPA 
  • For KU Leuven, students must be in their third or fourth year of study during the exchange period. 



Of note: 

  • All courses must be approved by the Faculty Director of your department in the Swanson School of Engineering. A course approval form must be completed and submitted to SSoE’s Engineering International Initiatives Office. 
  • Additionally, for the purpose of full-time status here at Pitt, students should be prepared to take what is equivalent to at least 12 Pitt credit hours.   
  • Courses taken at KU Leuven will be treated as transfer credits and will be marked as pass/fail (S/NC) on a Pitt student's transcript. In other words, transfer credits will not affect your Pitt GPA. However, students must receive a C grade or higher in order for the credits to transfer. Actual grades earned will appear on the transcript from the exchange university. 
  • Language Requirements: Non-native English speakers may be required to show evidence of English proficiency.      


Students who have attended this program in the past have taken classes in the areas of:: 

For information about the grading scale at KU Leuven, please see the grading scale info on the KU Leuven website.  


Please request KU Leuven to provide a hardcopy to the Engineering International Initiatives Office. Make sure that you follow their instructions on how to ensure that an official copy of your grades are received. Hardcopies should be sent the following address: International Engineering Initiatives, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 152 Benedum Hall, 3700 O’Hara Street,  Pittsburgh, PA  15261, USA. 

Exchange university transcripts typically do not arrive from the exchange university until 3 to 4 months after the end of exchange period. Therefore, Pitt students should be mindful of how this may affect their ability to graduate, especially when exchanging during one's senior year. Another consideration is how this may affect your financial aid package, as the S/NC grades are not posted until transcripts are received. 



Experiential Learning Description: 
Program Fees: 
Pitt students participating on an exchange program will pay regular Pitt tuition and fees, according to their in-state or out-of-state residency status. In addition to the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, this also includes all Mandatory Fees, such as the Student Activity Fee, Wellness Fee, Computing and Network Services Fee, and the Security, Safety, and Transportation Fee.
Pitt Students on financial aid and/or tuition scholarships will need to consult the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid or respective entity providing the funds to confirm coverage for study abroad. 


Items Billed by Pitt

 Tuition: Check Pitt's website to verify current costs: 
 Program Fee: Check Pitt's website to verify current costs 
 Study Abroad Fee $400 
 Total Billed by Pitt: Estimate your Pitt expenses based on current tuition and fees.
How Much To Budget: 

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Travel Expenses: Airfare, Passport, Visa, Resident Permit  $2,000  
Room & Board $3,000 - 5,000  
Personal Expenses $1,000 - 5,000  


The Estimated Costs reflect information provided by exchange partner and are reported to OAFA to calculate financial aid packages. The listed costs are defaulted to one semester. Multiply the costs by two for two semesters.Personal expenses vary with individual students. Review the KU Leuven's website , the Global E3 KU Leuven specific page as well as our budgeting page for more information.

The University of Pittsburgh provides comprehensive health insurance as part of studying abroad. More information about the type of insurance and coverage will be provided to you by the International Engineering Initiatives Office. However, you may need to purchase additional insurance if the exchange school you will attend requires you to purchase a specific health insurance per their regulations. It is your responsibility to ensure you know the cost of that insurance prior to committing to the program.

For global scholarship opportunities, check out:

  • the Pitt GEO scholarship page for links to national, provider and private scholarship samples
  • PittFund$Me  for Pitt sponsored funding including Pitt wide global scholarships, Nationality Rooms, VIH, etc.
  • PittFund$Me  for the SSOE Global Experience Scholarships!



Program Dates: 

Pitt students enroll at KU Leuven for either a full semester (fall or spring) or a full academic year (two full semesters). KU Leuven’s calendar may differ from Pitt's normal fall (August through December) and spring (January through April) semesters, so Pitt students should check the academic calendar at the exchange university. Like Pitt, KU Leuven’s academic calendar follows a Fall-Spring progression, meaning Fall is the first semester followed by the Spring semester as the second. Typically, KU Leuven’s academic calendar is as follows: Fall Semester: from last week of September till Christmas, with exams till the end of January and Spring Semester: from second week of February till the end of May, with exams till the end of June. The dates listed above are estimated and therefore subject to change according to the host university’s schedule.

Alicia JF Olalde, M.A.

Hello! Konnichiwa! I am the Director for Global Experiences and Engagement in the Swanson School of Engineering.  After working for the JET program in Japan for just over two years, I decided to pursue a career in international education. I returned to the US via a few months of travel -slowing making my way west with many stops in stunning locations and with amazing people. Whenever possible, I continue  explore new countries and cultures and have had the good fortune to work, study and travel all over the world. I have been fortunate to work both as an administrator and as a classroom educator in higher education; my areas of interest are international, adult and comparative education.  I enjoy assisting engineering students seize global opportunities! 

Schedule an appointment

SSOE students: schedule an appointment with me using Pathways via this link!

non-SSOE students-- send me an email and we'll set up a time to meet!


Application Instructions: 

You must first be accepted by the Swanson School of Engineering International Initiatives Office, then you will be directed to apply to Global E3. (Typically SSoE application deadlines are late September for Spring and early February for Fall.) A formal nomination from SSoE Engineering International Initiatives  is required for Pitt students to be recognized as an exchange student at KU Leuven. Therefore, Pitt students must complete all necessary Pitt steps in addition to KU Leuven's requirements. In other words, acceptance by Pitt Engineering International Initiatives does not guarantee acceptance by the exchange university.  


Prior to being accepted, please visit the Global E3 website and read the application instructions and application deadlines. (In the past, Global E3 application deadlines have been October 1st for spring semester programs and March 1st for fall semester programs.) 


Each university might have an additional application.  Please refer to the Global E3 KU Leuven website for details.  


Please contact Dr. Kristine Lalley for more information on  Full Year 2020 openings for this program.



  • SSoE student in good standing 
  • Minimum 2.75 GPA for engineering students 
  • For KU Leuven, students must be in their third or fourth year of study during the exchange period


Additional Information: 

Questions about funding? Check out our funding pages and note that SSoE has funding specifically for engineering students! There are many other national funding sources you can review. One place to search is the Institute of International Education website. 

Language Requirements: Non-native English speakers will be required to show evidence of English proficiency. 



Insurance Requirements: 

The University of Pittsburgh provides comprehensive health insurance as a part of studying abroad. More information about the type of insurance and coverage will be provided to you by the Engineering International Initiatives office.  However, you may need to purchase additional insurance if the school you will attend requires you to purchase a specific health insurance per their regulations. It is your responsibility to ensure you know the cost of that insurance prior to committing to the program. 


Visa Requirements: 
In order to study as a student in specific countries, a visa is required. A visa is formal endorsement by the host country to grant permission for an individual to enter, live or stay in that country for a specific purpose and period. In addition to a visa, some host countries may require a residency permit upon arrival. 
For those without the host country’s nationality, students may need to obtain a student visa to study on this exchange. Pitt students should also research the visa and/or permit process through the specified country consulate website.  
In general visa application requirements may include but are not limited to the following requirements:  
  • Visa application 
  • Valid Passport 
  • Verification of acceptance from sponsoring university (exchange university) 
  • Financial Documents, such as bank statements, tax documents or pay statements.   
  • Passport photos 
  • Application fee 
  • Medical/physical examination (likely to require a doctor's appointment so plan accordingly)