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Programs : Brochure

Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Language Prerequisite: No previous study
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0 Credit Available For: College, Wharton
Other Eligibility Requirements: Prior Coursework as Required by Subject Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad
Housing Options: University Residence Hall/Apartment Application Deadline: Fall/Year: February 15, Spring: October 1
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

BLV LogoUniversity of Leuven – KU Leuven

Situated in Belgium, in the heart of Western Europe, KU Leuven has been a center of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium's largest university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe.
The non-degree Study Abroad Programme in European Culture and Society (PECS) at the KU Leuven Faculty of Arts is designed to offer international students from around the world a unique experience of pursuing a variety of academic disciplines, with courses taught in English. The courses offered cover a wide range of fields from the Arts, the Social Sciences, Political Science, Business, Psychology, Religion, Philosophy, and more. PECS participants will be taking classes with students from Leuven, Europe and the rest of the world.
For additional information, visit the PECS website
The City of Leuven

Located in the Flemish Brabant province of Belgium, Leuven is very much a university town – around 47,000 of its total population of nearly 100,000 inhabitants are students. The town lies twenty minutes from downtown Brussels by train.

For more information on Leuven, visit the city’s official tourism website.
 Did you know…?

Leuven’s Town Hall (Stadhuis) was built in the mid-1400’s, and has remained nearly unaffected by either World War. On a guided tour, visitors can see the exquisite interior, including portraits of every mayor of the city since 1794.



The program at KU Leuven is for College and Wharton students only.

Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0

Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Prior coursework as required by subject - students should have completed at least 3-4 courses in their intended area of study prior to the semester abroad.


Language of Instruction


A full course load at KU Leuven’s Program in European Culture and Society consists of 24-30 ECTS (typically 4-6 courses) per semester. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

The University of Pennsylvania requires participation in a credit-bearing course in the Dutch language at K.U.Leuven. PECS participants also select courses from various departments and faculties at K.U. Leuven as well as from PECS core courses. Students may elect no more than two courses from the PECS core course list.  In addition, Wharton students must select a minimum of one course from the department of Business and Economics.

KU Leuven Academic Calendar
PECS Course Offerings (see slide titled “Core Courses”)
PECS Course Catalog

Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

Individual grade assessments can differ from instructor to instructor, but are generally based on class participation, written assignments, and a written and/or oral final examination. Grades are given on a Belgian scale of 20 points and are converted to Penn grades according to standard equivalencies:
KU Leuven Point Value Penn Equivalent
16-20 A
14-15 A-
13 B+
12 B
11 B-
10 C
8-9 D
0-7 F

Special Features

BLV Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by KU Leuven prior to the start of each semester.  More information on KU Leuven’s orientation activities can be found here.

Volunteering Opportunities

PECS students currently have the opportunity to volunteer at local high schools (tutoring, presentations, sports initiation, etc.) and in a retirement home (personal support, cafeteria, etc.). More volunteering opportunities are being added every year.

Cultural Package

Each semester, the PECS programme organizes 4-5 cultural trips, the cost of which are included in students’ tuition fees.  Participants will have the opportunity to visit historic places like Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges, and to travel back in time when walking around at World War memorials, in medieval fortresses and other historical landmarks.  Sometimes trips take PEC students to the European Parliament or the headquarters of NATO, but they can also include visits to a chocolate factory or one of the many local breweries.

BLV Special FeaturesBuddy Program

Program participants who want to see more than just the classroom can sign up for KU Leuven's Buddy Program. Through this hospitality program students are offered the opportunity to meet a Belgian family and learn more about Belgian ways of life and values. More information can be found here.

Student Associations

Penn students studying at KU Leuven have access to a wide range of student activities and associations. More information can be found here.


BLV Campus
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

Housing can be difficult for international students to obtain in Leuven so PECS arranges housing for all program participants prior to their arrival in Leuven. Participants live in rooms rented in university owned student residences, together with Belgian and other international students.

Information regarding accommodation can be found here.

Cost and Finance

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.

Budget Sheets

Academic Year

Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

Next Steps

For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Leuven, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.