Frequently Asked Questions

What are the application deadlines?

If you want to start the Master in Urban Studies in September 2020 these are the deadlines:

  • 1 March 2020: all nationalities
  • 15 May 2020: only EU candidates

Applications can be submitted until 12:00 CET (Midday Brussels Time) on the deadline day. No applications will be reviewed until the application window closes.

When will application decisions be communicated?

All applicants will be notified of their admission status via email approximately four weeks after the relevant application window closes.

When do classes begin and end?

The first semester of the Master in Urban Studies will begin early-September and finish at the end of December, to be followed by an exam period in January. The second semester will start early/mid-February and finish at the end of May, to be followed by an exam period in June.

How do I apply for the Master in Urban Studies?

The application process consists of two steps: 1) registering and completing the online application module; and 2) enrolling at either the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) or the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Please see our Admissions and Fees page for more details.

What documents do I need to complete my application?

The required documents include: diploma from previous studies; grades list from previous studies; motivation letter; 2 recommendation letters; proof of English language proficiency; copy of valid passport; passport-style photograph. The diploma and marks list will be accepted in English, Dutch, French, or German. If either the official diploma or official marks list is in another language, then two versions must be submitted: the original and a certified translation into English, Dutch, French, or German. The movation letter as well as the recommendation letters must be submitted in English.

Do I need to submit official hardcopies of any documents?

Yes, but only if you are offered admission to the Master in Urban Studies. For the application, you will only need digital files (PDF) of the required documents to submit online.

I don't have a background in urban studies. Can I still apply?

Of course. We are looking for motivated students with a strong interest in studying cities. Urban studies is an interdisciplinary domain of teaching and research and our students come from various backgrounds, ranging from geography, planning and architecture to sociology, demography, cultural studies, history, criminology, media and communication studies, and political science.

Can I apply if I did not finish my current studies?

Yes, you can apply if you finish your current studies before the start of the academic year. Instead of a diploma you have to upload proof of enrollment for the current academic year and provide us with transcripts as complete as possible.
The Academic Board will assess your credentials and competences in order to ensure you present sufficient guarantees for completing your current study cycle before the beginning of the joint programme's activities. If this assessment is positive, you may be selected on a conditional basis, provided you complete the degree concerned prior to the beginning of the joint programme. If your official date of graduation is after the start of the course please contact us to discuss possible options.

How are applications evaluated?

The Master in Urban Studies application committee will conduct a formal pre-admission review of all applications. Applicants are selected on the basis of the following criteria: relevance of the previous degree; and proof of fluency in English. As the Master in Urban Studies is a challenging programme, we particularly encourage students with a high grade average to apply. In order to get a sense of the profile and interests of applicants, we also ask applicants to submit a motivation letter.

Where do I enroll and register?

If you are accepted into the Master in Urban Studies, you will be asked to either enroll at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) or the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). You will also need to register your courses at both universities. Following your admission, we will provide the necessary information and support to do so.

What kind of a degree do I get?

If you succesfully complete the 120 ECTS Master in Urban Studies, you will get a double degree: 1) an MSc in Urban Studies degree from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB); and 2) an MSc Géographiques, à finalité Urban Studies from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Both degrees are fully accredited by the respective accreditation organisations. 

Do I need a visa?

All non-EU students need a visa. Students from EU countries do not.

Which type of visa do I need?

Be sure to apply for a long stay multiple entry student D visa for Belgium to start with. You should make your first entry to Belgium on a student visa and not a tourist visa in order to avoid long administrative procedures and the risk of having to travel back to your home country once your tourist visa expires.

How do I apply for a visa?

National embassies handle visa applications. For non-EU Master in Urban Studies students, the first student visa application should be made at the Belgian embassy nearest to you. For more information, visit the Belgian website for foreign affairs.

When should I begin the visa process?

The visa process should be started immediately after you have received an acceptance letter from us. It cannot be organised beforehand.

How long does the visa procedure take?

The duration of the visa procedure depends on your home country and on the agreement that exists between your country and Belgium. There are visa procedures which can take up to six months, in extreme cases. In our experience three to four months are quite common.

Is housing provided?

No. We will provide information about housing in Brussels, but it is up to each student to independently find their own housing. Most students employ a variety of methods, from local online listings to social media groups that exchange housing information and opportunities. The Master in Urban Studies coordination office will provide guidance in these matters, and online alumni networks can be invaluable sources.

How much will housing cost?

Housing costs vary depending on location, amenities, and more. Most students pay between 300-500 EUR per month to rent a room in a shared flat.

How much does the Master in Urban Studies cost?

The total fee for the Master in Urban Studies includes the tuition fee at either the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) or the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) as well as a fee for administrative and logistical costs. The tuition fee does not include the cost of student housing, food, visas, certain excursions, or other expenses related to daily life in Brussels. The administrative and logistical fee includes the expenses for local and international site visits and most excursions that are part of the curriculum (transportation, accommodation, visits).

Fees are per academic year. For the 2020/2021 academic year, EU-students pay a total fee (tuition fee and administrative and logistical fee) of 1500 Euro. Non-EU students pay a total fee of 4200 Euro.

What is the minimum level of English required?

All prospective students need to provide a proof of sufficient knowledge of English. This proof can be provided by presenting a language test or a certificate of your home institution that your language of instruction is/was English.

You should meet one of the following criteria: i) having a diploma of secondary or higher education where English was the language of instruction; ii) having successfully completed secondary education organised (by an educational establishment accredited) by the Flemish, French-speaking or German-speaking Community; iii) having successfully completed one of the following language proficiency tests corresponding to the Common European Framework of Reference with minimum level B2: 

  • TOEFL iBT with minimum level: 79;
  • IELTS with minimum level: academic module 6.5; 
  • ITACE with minimum level: B2;
  • Cambridge English Qualification Scale with the following minimal level: 170;

Certificates and other proof of language tests may not pre-date the first enrolment by more than five years. Only the language tests mentioned above are accepted. No exceptions will be granted.