Master of Science in Chemistry


The Master in Chemistry is a two-year (120 ECTS) advanced study in chemistry. This MSc programme benefits from the expertise in the different research domains of both the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Ghent University (UGent). We offer a high-level scientific education that combines a solid theoretical background with real hands-on experimental skills and critical thinking. At the VUB, you work in modern, state-of-the-art labs and you are part of a dynamic interuniversity research group. The close ties with the VUB's bio- and civil engineering departments also illustrate the multidisciplinary nature of the VUB Chemistry education. The experience you gain during your studies provides direct access to a PhD within the fields of organic, environmental and computational chemistry.

The Department of Chemistry highly values a personal approach, which manifests itself in lectures and extensive practical exercises in small groups. You have easy access to professors and teaching staff, who are available to coach you throughout your studies. A broad choice of optional courses makes it possible to tailor your study programme to your specific interests. You are also encouraged to carry out an internship in Belgium or abroad. 


The offered courses are strongly embedded in the ongoing research programmes of both VUB en UGent. Through intensive collaboration with team members of the different research groups, you have the opportunity to develop and improve your scientific skills. VUB researchers have strong connections both within and outside of Europe, through a wide range of research projects. This close connection to research means our students are well prepared for a PhD-position in environmental, organic or computational chemistry.


Chemistry in Brussels goes back to 1913, when Ernest Solvay founded the International Institute for Chemistry. In 1970, the Solvay family in association with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) founded and independent body, the International Institutes for Physics and Chemistry, to continue this important quest for the advancement of scientific knowledge. Over the years, these institutes have remained symbols of scientific excellence. The Solvay Institutes organises conferences and meetings that attract and invite the most prominent chemists today. The Chemistry Department at the VUB is proud of this tradition.


You have the choice between 3 profiles:

  • Research 
  • Industry
  • Education

No matter which profile you choose, you graduate with the same Master's degree in Chemistry. During your studies at VUB you will acquire a solid formation as a chemist and you will have the chance to participate in high-level research. For your Master's thesis you will do thorough research and we will guide you on how to work out relevant, original and innovative solutions for contemporary issues in chemistry. The VUB Master in Chemistry is a top choice!


  • Basic competences: 30 ECTS (mandatory)
  • Cluster: 30 ECTS
  • Profile Research, Industry or Education: 30 ECTS
  • Master's Thesis: 30 ECTS

NOTE: The courses under Profile Education (30 ECTS) are taught in Dutch.


  • Molecular and Macromolecular Design offers a thorough education in the design and synthesis of organic molecules and polymers, in which medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry and structural analysis feature prominently.
  • Materials Chemistry focuses on the properties of materials, such as polymers, for example surface analysis, X-rays and laser spectroscopy and computational chemistry.
  • Analysis and Characterisation covers a whole range of analytical techniques, including new electrochemical methods, advanced chromatography and elemental and isotope analyses.
  • Environmental Chemistry studies natural and disturbed processes in water, soil and atmosphere. A variety of analytical techniques are used here, and new sampling and measuring techniques are designed, refined and optimised.

For an overview of all Master courses, click here.

Click here to take a look at an example timetable.



During your studies, you have the opportunity to broaden your horizon by spending time abroad for courses, internship or even your Master's thesis. Within Europe, the Department of Chemsitry has Erasmus+ mobility agreements with the following universities:

However, multiple possibilities also exist for stays outside of Europe. If you decide to follow the Profile Industry, an industrial internship in Belgium or abroad is mandatory.

For more information you can contact:

Exchange Coordinator Chemistry

Coordinator Internationalisation - Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences

The Master of Science in Chemistry is open to holders of a Bachelor degree in Chemistry or equivalent. The Admission Board screens applicants based on the submitted documents. A solid background in organic and analytical/inorganic chemistry is required, as well as basic knowledge of quantum chemistry. To be accepted to this Master’s programme, the equivalent of at least an upper second class honours degree (overall mark of more than 60%) is required.

Application-based admission

Admission is based upon acceptance of the application (proof of meeting the academic and language requirements, satisfactory background...). All necessary information regarding the admission requirements, deadlines and application forms can be found on the application page

Language requirements

In order to be admitted, English proficiency is required.


Did you know that Belgian companies are constantly searching for chemists? In Belgium, chemists are among the best-paying jobs. The Master in Chemistry prepares you for an interesting career in one of the most research intensive and growing sectors worldwide. Graduates work in a wide range of areas: in research, production, laboratories, sales and management. A number of chemists work in government labs, in food safety and research, production of drinking water, waste management and many other environmental aspects. In medical labs, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry there is also a growing need for chemists.

The profile Industry prepares you for a career in both technical and business aspects of chemistry (e.g. as Quality Assurance Officer, Technical Director, Project Manager, etc.). The profile Research opens the way to a scientific career, focused on research at universities (PhD research), institutes or even industry (e.g. as Pharmaceutical R&D manager, Compound Development Team Leader, Expert Analytical Development, etc.).

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:


At VUB, I quickly established a passion for analytical and environmental chemistry and was able to work on organic pollutants and their deposition into land and soil as a subject for my Master's thesis. As a result of my work on dioxins and PCB's, I started a PhD in the Department of Analytical, Environmental and Geochemistry (AMGC) to continue and expand my research on these toxic compounds.
For the next 4 years, I investigated the levels of these pollutants in soil, agricultural land and ultimately their possible transfer to the food chain. To accomplish this, I collaborated with local and international research institutes, received training in the offical EU reference lab and also attended international conferences, where I presented my results to the scientific community. As a chemist, the biggest reward comes from knowing that your research matters and contributes to a better environment. Our group and the whole Chemistry Department strive to contribute to society and help students evolve into independent and critical scientists.

Kersten Van Langenhove, Postdoctoral Researcher

My main interest during my Bachelor tended towards analytical chemistry, more specifically to its environmental applications. By the time I started the final year of my Master’s, I had gained a strong background in applied analytical chemistry. I decided to do my Master’s thesis with a focus on marine sediments. I was offered the possibility to do my thesis with one of the foreign collaborating universities and research institutes.
Currently I am doing my PhD in the AMGC research group in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ). My topic is focused on a recently (2010) discovered type of bacteria, which forms long filaments of linked cells and is named ‘Cable Bacteria’. A fascinating fact about ‘Cable Bacteria’ is that the filaments span from the top of the seafloor to several centimeters deep into the sediment, and they behave as electrical wires by generating current. This turns the upper centimeters of the seafloor into a battery, and has a strong impact on chemical cycles - for example iron and calcium cycles. Doing my PhD in Brussels allows me to live in the capital of Europe, and to work within the international network of the AMGC research group.

Sebastiaan Van de Velde, PhD student


Team Organic Chemistry:

I chose to focus on Organic Chemistry in my Master studies. For me, working a whole year in the lab on my thesis was the best preparation for doing a PhD. During my thesis year I got to work independently, while at the same time I learned how to work together with fellow Master students, PhD students, Post-Docs, technical staff and promotors. This is not only an amazing experience, but it also gave me the genuine satisfaction of contributing to a new field in Organic Chemistry.
My PhD project focuses on the development and characterisation of self-assembling peptides. These peptides posess the possibility to form stable hydrogels in aqueous environments rendering them interesting materials for encapsulation of medicine for in vivo applications (controlled drug-delivery). I use my Organic Chemistry background during the synthesis of these materials, however some parts of the characterisation and potential applications drove me toward (for me) unknown areas of science, such as material chemistry, toxicity studies, rheology, etc. Not only do you enrich your own fields of interest and knowledge as a PhD student, but you also thicken your cv with experience and knowhow on a wider variety of sciences. In addition, for my research project I was able to go to Australia. This was definitely one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Jeroen Mangelschots, PhD student

During my Bachelor in Chemistry it became clear that organic chemistry is my field of interest: challenging synthetic strategies, pleasant practical work and personal input were the key ingredients. All these factors made me want to do my Master's thesis in organic chemistry as well. The first months of this thesis period were exactly as expected: developing new synthetic pathways for new potential bioactive molecules, struggling with reactions and critical evaluation of the work, often in cooperation with colleagues and (co-)promoters. Working as a PhD student allows me to develop these competences further.
My PhD research project combines the synthesis of peptides and small molecules. Doing this kind of research in my PhD allows me to learn the necessary skills and insights needed for my further career in scientific research. An important goal of my research is the development of new transformations with diynes as substrates. The challenges faced allow me to use all the acquired knowledge on organic synthesis and developing synthetic strategies, and expanding these significantly.

Steven Verlinden, PhD student