Master of Science in Urban Studies

Urban Studies in the Capital of Europe!

The Master in Urban Studies is a 120 ECTS programme jointly offered by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Offering a strong interdisciplinary perspective on urban studies, students follow a core trajectory of shared courses and have the freedom to specialize by individually selecting from a large offer of elective modules and courses.

For more detailed information and to apply, go to the Master in Urban Studies website.

The 120 ECTS curriculum combines the attractiveness of a flexible, modular and interdisciplinary programme that allows you to focus on your own interests within the domain of urban studies with a common core of compulsory courses to ensure that you develop the necessary urban skills and competences.

Common core

The common core contains a course on Brussels, one on the European dimension of cities and urbanisation, and a number of theoretical courses introducing you to the field of urban studies. By using Brussels as a unique case study in the programme and by organising various site visits in and around Brussels and excursions to cities in Europe, we benefit from our location in the centre of Europe. The common core also contains two modules introducing you to various urban methods and research approaches.

Elective modules and courses

Before starting with the Master in Urban Studies, you are expected to choose two elective modules. The elective modules have a disciplinary and/or thematic orientation: this will allow you to specialise within subdomains of urban studies, while at the same time ensuring interdisciplinary training on the level of the overall programme.

We currently offer six elective modules, incorporating a large variety of disciplines from across the social sciences and humanities:

Urban History (18 ECTS)
Urban Criminology (15 ECTS)
Urban Geography (12 ECTS)
Urban Architecture (15 ECTS)
Urban Planning and Mobility (14 ECTS)
Urban Design (16/18 ECTS)

Besides the elective modules, we also offer a wide range of individual elective courses.


You can also choose to replace one elective module with an internship (15 ECTS), allowing you to gain experience in a working environment that is relevant to urban studies, such as an NGO, local government administration, consultancy firm or European network or institution. If you want to pursue a PhD following your Master education, you can also choose to do a research-oriented internship by working in a university department or another research institution.

Master thesis

30 ECTS of your 120 ECTS programme is dedicated to the Master thesis. In the first year of your studies, you will choose a topic and develop your research design, whereas in the second year you will conduct most of the empirical research and write the actual thesis. Throughout the two-year process, there will be various moments of collective and individual supervision.

For more detailed information, take a look at the Master in Urban Studies website.

In the second year of your studies, it is possible to go abroad for a semester and study at one of our partner universities.

Within Europe, we have Erasmus+ mobility agreements with the following universities:

However, multiple possibilities also exist for stays outside of Europe.

For more information you can contact:

Exchange Coordinator Urban Studies

Coordinator Internationalisation - Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences


Applicants are eligible for the Master in Urban Studies if they have completed a 180 ECTS academic bachelor degree or its equivalent in geography, planning, architecture, history, criminology, political science, sociology, demography, media and communication studies, cultural studies, or a similar discipline. Additionally, proof of fluency in English is required and should be sought well in advance of the application window.

Prospective applicants with a degree from a field not mentioned above should contact us. Please explain how your degree has helped prepare you for the Master in Urban Studies and provide more information on the specific coursework you have undertaken (including transcripts of your course units). Students who have not completed their undergraduate degree at the time of applying but will do so before the enrolment deadline are also eligible. In such cases offers of admission are conditional, meaning that successful completion of an undergraduate degree must be demonstrated before the offer of admission can be finalised.

Application deadlines

The Master in Urban Studies has two application deadlines each year: 1 March (for non-EU and EU-students) and 1 June (EU-students only). 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.

Application process

The application process consists of two steps.

Step 1: All applicants need to register for and complete the online application module. Use the following URL to request an access code for the online application module:

Following registration, you will receive the access code via e-mail. Use the following URL to access the online application module:

Enter your e-mail address and access code.

The Master in Urban Studies application committee will review 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.

Step 2: Only those applicants selected will be requested to enroll at either the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) or the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

The full application instructions are included within the online application module. Read through all instructions and information provided in the module. This will help you avoid any mistakes and make the application process as efficient as possible. Please note that various documents will need to be uploaded within the application module and before the application deadline. 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.

Note on languages: the Master in Urban Studies is an English language programme. However, 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.


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 administrative and logistical fee includes the expenses for local and international site visits and most excursions that are part of the curriculum. It does not include the cost of housing, food, visas, certain excursions, or other expenses. Fees are per academic year.

The 2017-2018 total fee for EU students is approx. 1500 EUR. Non-EU students cannot apply for the 2017/2018 academic year, but are welcome from 2018/2019 onwards. Fees for non-EU students will be published early 2018.


Stefan Decorte

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
WE, DGGF, 6F332
Pleinlaan 2
B-1050 Brussels

We train our students in analysing, understanding and proposing solutions for urban problems (planning, project management, scenario research), working in a multidisciplinary team and adopting a critical attitude.
It opens possibilities for you to work on urban problems in both the private or public sector. Your Master in Urban Studies leads to the following type of occupations:

  • Research and teaching on issues of urbanity and urbanism
  • Urban policy advice
  • Urban project management
  • Urban planning and design

Career guidance? VUB Career Center is your one-stop shop!

The VUB alumni are known to be critical, independent and open-minded people. Even then your first steps on the job market are not always easy. The VUB Career Center gives you that extra push you need to make it work. They offer individual advice on career opportunities and can help you to pimp your cv, or prepare for your first job interview. And you don't have to wait until after graduation. Pay them a first visit during your studies to find out what the job market has to offer you.


The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a dynamic and modern university with three campuses in the Brussels-Capital region. The main campus in Etterbeek offers high-quality education and research in a green and stimulating environment. With all fields of study being represented there, you can go above and beyond your own discipline. At our student restaurant, you will easily find an engineering student standing next to a future philosopher trying to decide together between a pasta meal or the vegetarian selection of the day.
Our students do not feel like they are just a number in a long row of unknown students. They have good relationships with their lecturers and assistants who have an open-door policy where students with questions are always welcome. Small group workshops are also used to ensure close interaction and hands-on experience. Educational assessment conducted annually indicates that our students are “satisfied” to “very satisfied” with 90% of their courses.

Lecture halls and laboratories are furnished with the most up-to-date equipment. Modern sports facilities, including gymnasiums, fitness rooms, tennis and squash courts, and a swimming pool, can be found on campus.

For more information on student life in Brussels and at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, go to


Brussels is the capital of Europe, but it wasn't always. Actually, Victor Hugo was amongst the first pro-Europeans who redeemed Brussels' geographical location ideal to be the capital of Europe.

You will encounter a strange mix of skyscrapers and small curving streets, of bourgeois and bohémien, of oui and non. It will get you lost, but it does so with everyone.

Brussels gives you what you expect from a real city: high buildings, busy traffic, an underground art scene, eccentric old ladies dressed in drag, bars on every corner, and a lot of love from the locals. Brussels is officially a bilingual city, which means that everywhere you go you'll see signs in French and in Dutch (and very often in English too). However, you'll find that most people in Brussels are native French speakers rather than Dutch speakers.

Here, in our belle Bruxelles you'll discover one of the greatest cities in Europe...

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