Master of Science in Biology: Human Ecology

Human Ecology

This two-year specialisation deals with the interactions between humans and their natural environment. The increasing impact of the human population on ecosystems worldwide stresses the urgent need for researchers with a multidisciplinary background that engage in developmental plans for a durable use and management of natural resources.

The graduation option Human ecology addresses an international audience of students and offers a course programme that, besides scientific topics, also addresses technological, socio- economical and political aspects. This programme provides the ideal basis for young scientists that would like to contribute to play a key role in dealing with human ecological challenges in their home countries.

Programme structure

Compulsory: 30 ECTS + 21 ECTS

Electives: 30 ECTS + 9 ECTS

Master's thesis: 30 ECTS

For an overview of all Master courses, click here.


The programme is open to holders of a Bachelor degree in Biology or an academic Bachelor degree with a minor in Biology (e.g. BSc in Environmental Sciences, BSc in Biotechnology, ...). For other bachelors in science, applied science and life sciences, equivalency will be evaluated based on scientific competences and skills of the students by the Master of Biology Steering Committee.

Adequate knowledge of biology (ecology, biodiversity, physiology, genetics and molecular biology), mathematics and chemistry at university bachelor level is an absolute requirement. Previous knowledge of statistics, geo- or soil science, law and environmental management is an advantage but not a prerequisite.

Master of Biology - specialisation Human Ecology (reduced programme 60 ECTS)

Candidates with a Master degree of a five stage programme in Biology from an EEA (European Economic Area) university can apply for the reduced Master programme and can be exempted of 60 ECTS of the regular 120 ECTS programme. Applicants should have gained an equivalent of 60 or more relevant ECTS in their previous training. The relevance refers to statistical analyses, knowledge of various ecosystems, aspects of molecular biology and the conductance of a Master thesis. Applications are evaluated on an individual base.

All necessary information regarding the admission requirements, deadlines and application forms can be found on the application page



CARIBU is an Erasmus Mundus Action 2 (EMA2) partnership program that aims at increasing academic mobility, research and capacity building opportunities between 8 EU universities (Belgium (2), Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Poland, Portugal, Romania) and countries from the ACP region (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Gambia, Ghana, the Bahamas, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Samoa). The project is devoted to creating a mutual forum for scientific cooperation, learning enhancement and exchange of best practices. All partners in the project will strive to meet the needs of the involved countries including through the support to the development of disadvantaged regions, with a special attention given to equal opportunity and gender balance. To this end, an attractive scholarship program is offered for Msc, Phd and Staff.

More information:


Citizens of countries with bilateral agreements with Belgium can apply through the Belgian Embassy for a scholarship from the Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC). For details and procedures, please contact the Belgian diplomatic representation in your country or consult the BTC-website. Similarly, citizens of countries that have bilateral agreements with the Flemish community can apply for a scholarship. For details, please consult the website of the Flemish community.


The Terra Viva Grants Directory develops and manages information about grants for agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources in the world's developing countries.




The Government of Flanders awards up to 45 scholarships to outstanding Master students. The program aims to promote the internationalization of the Flemish Higher Education.



OFID scholarships will be awarded to students or candidates for master’s degree studies. Applicants must be from a developing country (except OFID Member Countries), and he/she must first obtain admission to pursue a Master’s degree studies in a relevant field of development, from any recognized university/college in the world.



The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), through the OAS Partnerships Program for Education and Training (PAEC), are offering scholarships to qualified candidates of the Americas to pursue graduate studies in the area of Biology.


After I finished my Bachelor in Biology in Peru, I have been working 4 years in the interface between policy-making and research. However, I decided to scale up my knowledge to be able to contribute better to society. When I came across the Master in Human Ecology, it was love at first sight as the programme combines basic science, applied science and policy. The international environment was fascinating to me. To have the possibility to learn from the experience of people from Madagascar, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Samoa, Denmark, etc. was truly amazing. I especially liked the courses about statistics, impact assessment, agroforestry, biotechnology and fisheries, and was impressed with the passionate and knowledgeable professors. I would strongly recommend this programme to all students who think science should be used to promote sustainable development. To those who believe understanding human society is crucial to maintain healthy environments where humans receive the benefits of nature, but also provide the conditions to maintain nature.
Claudia Parra Paitan, alumna

I studied Botany and Zoology at the University of Nairobi, and am now enrolled in the MSc Biology, profile Human Ecology at the VUB. My dream is to play an important role in plant ecology and conservation. Human beings are central to environment reconstruction and degradation and prudent management would avert possible ecological challenges and impacts. Studying Human Ecology at the VUB gives me the recognition and the knowledge and skills needed to help my people and my country. It has a holistic approach to science, combining theoretic, practical as well as field work. The dedicated professors coach us, inspire us, and challenge us to be innovative. I have also learned how to do oral exams. They are not common in Kenya, but teach you important social skills.

Chebii Willy Kibet

I am a forestry engineer from Cameroon and always dreamed of continuing my studies abroad. The Master in Biology, profile Human Ecology fits perfectly with my training and I really like the multidisciplinary approach. This master program is also an opportunity to improve my English, though I must confess that the oral exams are challenging for me. The practical orientation of the teaching and the perfect coordination of the program exceeded my expectations.

Natalie Kana