Master of Science in Urban Studies: EMMC 4CITIES

The Master in Urban Studies (4Cities) is a unique two-year interdisciplinary and international programme. It has been selected as an Erasmus Mundus Master Course. 4Cities takes students to Brussels, Copenhagen, Vienna, Madrid and a number of surrounding cities. The programme adds a European perspective to the field of Urban Studies: it wants to break up and to open the national perspective on urban problems. The growing importance of globalisation and the shift towards a world of flows calls for a new approach in important fields of urban policy like culture, economy, planning…

The strength of the programme results from the integration of analytical skills typical for the (social-) sciences and the more design-oriented skills of planning and architecture. The need for interdisciplinary knowledge and skills as opposed to the more narrowly defined academic disciplines is strong.

For more detailed information, take a look at the 4Cities website.

During a period of two years, students take part in an interdisciplinary programme and study in four European capitals, Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid and Vienna and at six universities. Students live in each of the cities for one semester and spend part of the last semester in a location of their choice, to work on their Master's Thesis.

In each city the programme consists of:

  • Academic courses such as European Urban Studies, Urban Geography, Urban Sociology, Urban Economic Geography, Demography, Urban Planning and Urbanism, Urban Development in Eastern Europe, Urbanism and Architecture, Urban Culture and Cultural Theory, The Sustainable and Liveable City, ...
  • Fieldwork: Urban Analysis
  • Excursions & visits
  • Exams and papers, and thesis tutoring


Students will acquire scientific knowledge about the bases of urban theories in different disciplines, the city as a social product: factors, global context (globalisation, Europe, Fordism/ post-Fordism, modernism/post modernism), the local context and heritage, planning and design processes & systems, project management.

For an overview of all Master courses, click here.


In each of the cities students will be given a topic to study in group through extensive fieldwork. Fieldwork is organised in close cooperation with non-academic urban institutions and organisations and is closely linked to ongoing academic research in the city of residence.


During the programme several excursions will be organised to illustrate and discuss topics treated during the courses. This includes visits to public and private institutions and organisations (formal and informal ones) that are important for the local political, economic and cultural dynamics of the city.

During a period of two years, students take part in an interdisciplinary programme and study in four European capitals:

  • Brussels
  • Copenhagen
  • Madrid
  • Vienna

Application and selection based admission to the programme is granted to holders of a Bachelor of minimum 180 ECTS in geography, sociology, literature & cultural studies, architecture & planning, economy, political sciences, public management, tourism, history, criminology, leisure studies, media studies or a similar discipline.

Application procedure

Applications will be assessed on the basis of the applicant's academic records and skills, a motivation letter, English proficiency, recommendation letters.

Admission ONLY through the programme's own website:

4Cities has been awarded the Erasmus Mundus Master Course label and can offer scholarships for a limited number of students.

Language requirements

In order to be admitted, you need to be proficient in English. All necessary information regarding admission and language requirements and application forms can be found on


Stefan Decorte

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

4Cities trains 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. 4Cities 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.

Student life

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

City life

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...

Brussels is a challenging city which you can explore endlessly, but you have to take some time to discover its true face. For a push in the right direction, take a look at the following pages:


I came to the VUB from the United States because the opportunity to join the 4Cities Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Urban Studies was too good to pass up. At the core of urbanity is the interaction of diversity, the ways in which different perspectives, attitudes, skill sets, and ways of living rub against each other. What better way to study urbanity than in situ, in six different universities, four different cities in four different countries, and with a cohort of 25 fellow students from wildly different academic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds? Our first stop was Brussels and VUB/ULB. The semester was intense, challenging, and inspiring. 4Cities was, for me, transformational in the best sense of the word.

Joshua Grigsby

I studied Development Planning as an undergraduate in Ghana. I was always interested in urban issues - especially urban transportation. So after my Bachelor degree I applied for a Master in Urban Studies at VUB. The multidisciplinary approach of the courses provided me with a wide variety of angles to view urban issues and it gave me the chance to push myself and to have an interest in other paradigms of thought. The semester at VUB was my first experience in Europe. But the diversity of the people, the vitality of the city together with its key function as the heart of the European Union meant that I could not have chosen a better city to start my education in Europe.

William Otchere-Darko