How to Apply to an International University in Belgium
If you know anything about Belgium, is that they make the best watches, the most delicious chocolate and the best beer barley can offer.
But you probably didn’t know that a lot of international students choose this European country for their Master’s degrees, after considering the tuition fees, the geographical location and the amalgam of cultures.
If you wish to study here, though, you should take into account the whole application process. Luckily for you, we are here to help. And here it goes:
Choose the right degree subject in Belgium
Belgium offers a vast range of disciplines for students, but, according to our data, the most popular for international students are:
- Business Administration
- Computer Science & IT
- Political Science
Choose the right Belgian university
Belgium has some of the best-ranked universities in the world. Seeing how the name of your institution may count on your CV, we recommend one of them. A short list of the best of them is:
- University of Leuven, in Leuven;
- The Institute for European Studies Universite libre de Bruxelles, in Brussels;
- University of Liege, in Liege;
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Brussels.
Prepare to apply
First things first: check the scholarships in Belgium. You have a lot to choose from and the chance that one of them be perfect for you is great. We think you should take advantage of this, so research like you’ve never researched before.
Also, like any country, check the VISA requirements. Although you may be free to come here if you’re a EU/EEA student, it won’t matter where you come from for your residence permit and your application documents.
Since 2008, all students from China had to obtain a special certificate from the Centre of Academic Assessment from Beijing to be added to their VISA file.
And, since we mentioned the application process…
Where to apply for a Belgian Master’s degree?
There is a website, StudyInBelgium.be, that will be your general guide through your application. When we say general, we mean it: the information provided here is so basic, you expect it to listen to Taylor Swift on repeat.
If you want to apply, you can go on this list of Belgian Master’s programmes and access one of them. This will take you directly to its official page and you will see the details and the checklists you need for the complete application.
Language requirements for a Belgian university application
Most courses in Belgium are either in French, or in English. Like always, each page has more information about the grade and the proficiency tests they will accept.
Usually, for English, the tests accepted are:
For French, you will have to:
- take a language proficiency test upon arrival;
- or submit a certificate, proving your language level (FLE).
For foreign students, the universities organise special French courses, so if you wish to learn while you’re there, you should be covered. You can find more information directly on the StudyInBelgium website, so don’t forget to check it out before departing.
Required application documents
General application documents
You will probably get tired of hearing this, but always check the website for your programme of choice!
Some of the requirements are basic, like having a Bachelor’s before applying for a Master’s (duh!), and that you must submit all your documents in either English, French or Dutch, but other requirements will be completely up to the university or will depend on your country of origin.
Some of the basic documents required also include your:
- Passport picture
- Bachelor’s degree transcripts
- Proof of language proficiency
- But, like always, RESEARCH!
Specific entry requirements
Some universities or Master’s programmes will require you to submit:
- A motivation letter;
- A reference letter.
Like always, the number of characters or the number of reference letters may vary, so be prepared and follow the document checklist you will be given like it’s your own personal Manifesto.
Also, take care: some programmes may require students who can afford to pay for themselves for their international experience, including accommodation, living costs, tuition fees. Check out a brief guide for Belgian living costs and consider it before applying to a Master’s degree.
University application deadlines for Belgium
In Belgium, some deadlines are dependent on your VISA status. Some of the rough deadlines you will need to take into account and mark on your calendar are:
- 1st of June: Applying deadline;
- October: Autumn semester starts;
- Mid-January – late-January: 1st semester exams;
- Mid-February: Spring semester starts;
- Mid-June – late-June: 2nd semester exams;
- July – September: Summer Holiday.
Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter
After being accepted, you have to actually enrol. Yes, it seems redundant, but if you don’t officially occupy your place in the Master’s programme, you will be left on the outside, looking in, sad, in the rain, with raindrops masking your tears.
Anyway, to be properly enrolled, you will have to:
- Pay the tuition fee;
- Actually send the proper documentation.
When you land in Belgium, you will also have to pay a visit ASAP to the university, so you could finalise the process and party care-free, before starting your semester.
But don’t party too hard: after you get the enrolment certificate, you have to go and obtain a residency permit. This should happen 8 days after you arrive in Belgium, so the schedule is pretty tight.
Also, on a more serious note, you should get all the contact details for your country’s diplomatic missions in Belgium. They will help you if you have any problems or just feel lonely in a new place.
As a parting thought, congratulations on this huge step you’re taking and for following your dreams to an international university. We’re sure you will do great and, as always, don’t forget to combine your courses with a bit of fun and take advantage of the combination and culture exchange you will find there. Good luck and may the force be with you!