Bilateral Exchange Program

  • Who: Undergraduate Arts and Science students in an Honours program
  • Where: 30 countries worldwide
  • When: Fall and/or Winter
  • How long: Varies by exchange partner
  • For academic credit? Yes
  • GPA requirement: Typically 2.8 cum GPA, some partners require up to 3.2
  • Application fee: No
  • Program fee: $200 (payable at time of acceptance, not application)
  • Costs borne by student: Travel documentation, flights, insurance, accommodation
  • Tuition: Payable to Queen's University
  • Financial assistance: Yes - Exchange bursary for eligible students
  • OSAP eligible: Yes

Bilateral exchanges are formal partnership agreements between Queen's and another university whereby students have the opportunity to study at a partner university while still paying their tuition and ancillary fees to Queen's. In other words, Queen's sends nominated students to our partner institutions, and they send their nominated students to Queen's. The Faculty of Arts and Science maintains partnerships with over 100 universities in 30 different countries.

When you take part in the bilateral exchange program you are taking part in the largest Arts and Science exchange program.

Not sure where to go? Search our partners to find out where they are located, term dates, GPA requirement, resources, and more! Make sure you are looking at partner schools that have "Bilateral" in the "Exchange Program" column.

Search our partner universities

Applications are now closed


You must be:

  • Enrolled in an Honours (four-year) program at Queen's.
  • Enrolled full-time in second year of a degree program in the Faculty of Arts and Science and be returning to Queen's to complete an Honours degree.
    • Dual degree students where the first degree is not in Arts and Science and BHSc students are not eligible.
  • In good academic standing, with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.8 or higher at the time of the application deadline (January).
  • Meet the requirements of the exchange partner university regarding level of entry, GPA, term(s) of attendance and language competence (typically a 200-level university-level language or its equivalent for partner institutions where the language of instruction is not English) where applicable. Language requirements are listed on the partner profiles.


Complete the online application form

Select up to six institutions on the application form.

You do not need to pay the program fee now. You will be asked to pay if your application is successful and you accept your exchange offer.


Submit supporting documents with the online application

You must submit your Statement of Interest essay (max 500 words) and your Exchange Decision Matrix


Language competency assessment (not required for all students)

Students requesting placement at a host university that teaches in a language other than English must demonstrate their language proficiency.


Previous university transcript (not required for all students)

Transfer students must submit a copy of their transcript from their previous school. Unofficial transcripts will be accepted.


3rd and 4th year additional supporting documents

3rd-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during their fourth year and from fourth-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during a fifth year of their program must submit additional documentation.

Supporting Documents

Please review the following section for specific information on each supporting document. Here are some important supporting document reminders:

  • Submit all supporting documents through the online application by the published deadlines to ensure a complete application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • Include your name and student number on all supporting documents.
  • Rigorously check all supporting documents for spelling and grammatical errors as they will be read by the selection committee.

Submit a 500-word maximum statement of interest essay as a PDF, providing a well-researched answer to the following two questions:

  • Why do you want to go on exchange?
  • Discuss a past experience you had adjusting to one or more cultural differences. Cultural difference can happen in an international setting or your hometown – it entails encountering different norms, customs and ways of living than you are used to. What did you learn that will help with adjustment on the exchange program?

We encourage students to use the resource on culture (PDF, 512KB) included in our Helpful Guide for Exchange Applications (PDF, 142KB) when answering the second question.

Please note:

  • The 500-word limit is cumulative; it is not 500 words for each question.
  • You may choose to answer each question separately, or you may choose to answer both questions in one response. If you choose the latter, please make sure that your response clearly addresses both questions.

The Exchange Decision Matrix is a tool that will help you focus your research and determine which universities are most suitable for your needs and expectations.

You must fully complete the Exchange Decision Matrix and submit it with your online application.

Review our brief Exchange Decision Matrix video tutorial for instructions on completing this supporting document.

Please note

  • Each host university listed on your online application should also be included in Section 1 of your Exchange Decision Matrix.
  • You do not need to provide exact term dates - you can use the current year's sessional dates, or indicate approximate start/end dates based on your research.

Download a Copy of the Matrix (Excel, 50KB)

Students requesting placement at a host university that teaches in a language other than English must demonstrate their language proficiency. 

Students determine prior to applying whether a host university teaches in a language other than English.

If a host university teaches in both English and another language, then students only need to provide proof of language proficiency if they intend to study in the additional language. Students should take care to thoroughly research such universities to ensure they offer enough courses in the language(s) in which students are proficient.

If the IPO requires students to demonstrate language proficiency, even if the host university teaches some courses in English, then students must meet this requirement in order to be considered for placement. For instance, Keio University in Japan teaches in English and Japanese but the IPO requires students to have the equivalent of JAPN 100A/B in order to be placed there. Any IPO requirements can be found under partner profiles on our Programs webpage.

The International Programs Office cannot place students at host universities with language requirements if there is no evidence that the requirement is met.

Proof of language proficiency can be demonstrated in one of the following ways:

  1. Courses on the Queen’s transcript: If a student has completed the required courses, as per our Programs webpage, they will be eligible for placement. For instance, students must have completed SPAN 204/205 to be placed at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. There is no requirement for the student to upload their transcript as the International Programs Office can access this.
  2. French Language Proficiency Test: If a student is applying to a host university that teaches in French and they do not have evidence of proficiency on their Queen’s transcript they are required to complete the Department of French Studies’ Placement Test and upload their results to the online application.
  3. Language Assessment: If a student is applying to a host university that teaches in another language (not English or French) and they do not have evidence of proficiency on their Queen’s transcript they are required to complete the Language Assessment form (PDF, 103 KB). Students must download the form and email to determine which professor will perform the assessment. The completed assessment form must be submitted with the application by the deadline.

Applications may also be accepted from third-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during their fourth year and from fourth-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during a fifth year of their program. Applicants currently in their third or fourth year should be aware, however, that:

  • An additional required supporting document is a detailed plan of proposed study (please use this Academic Plan Form (PDF, 134 KB) for each host university listed on the application, recognizing that entry to fourth-year courses in their area(s) of concentration may not be possible. The student's Undergraduate Chair(s) must review the completed the Form and approve the plan by signing the Form. The signed Form must be submitted with the application by the deadline for the application to be considered complete.
  • An exchange term abroad will not be permitted during the final term of their degree program at Queen's.
  • Second-year applicants will be given priority. 

  • You do not need to select institutions all in the same region or country.
  • Some locations and universities can be heavily subscribed. We encourage you to diversify your selection. 
  • Ensure the institutions listed on the application will be suitable for your academic program. The selection committee will assume that students have fully researched the universities selected by the applicant for program and course compatibility.
  • Make sure that you know the term dates for the schools you are looking at - even if it is just which months the term runs from and to.
  • Be advised that each university has its own eligibility requirements. For instance, some universities require a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.6 whereas others require a 3.0 or 3.2. Review the partner profiles to be certain to meet eligibility requirements for a university before listing it on your application.
  • Research, research, and research again!

Selection Process

The criteria for selection are based on a combination of grades and academic preparation, research, and motivation as assessed from the essay.

Specifically, the reading committee assesses applications with the following considerations:

  • Academic Performance - 25%
  • Statement of Interest Essay Question #1 - 25%
  • Statement of Interest Essay Question #2 - 25%
  • Exchange Decision Matrix - 25%

Applications are assigned a score using the Bilateral Exchange Application Rubric. Application scores determine the placement order used to fill spaces at partner universities. 

All students will receive a communication from the International Programs Office containing their results prior to Reading Week via Queen's email.


Want to learn more about exchange? While most students will start their research in 2nd year, it's never too early to begin! Come to one of our Fall info sessions such as Exchange 101, Get an A+ in Exchange, Funding Exchange, Meet the Partners, and more!

See upcoming events


Look at our resources covering safety, funding and budgeting, as well as identity-based resources to help you research and plan your exchange.

Start by looking at our budgeting tips


Looking for more individualised advice? Stop by to visit one of our Peer Advisors

Peer Advisor Schedule