Belgium is renowned for making the best wristwatches, the most delicious chocolate, and some of the best beer in the world.
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 amazing variety of cultures and languages.
If you want to study in Belgium, you should learn more about the university application process. Luckily for you, we are here to help!
1. Decide on a Belgian university for your studies
Belgium has some of the best-ranked universities in the world. Seeing how the name of your institution may count on your CV, here are a few academic institutions we recommend:
- University of Leuven
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel
- University of Antwerp
- Vlerick Business School
- Hasselt University
- University of Liége
- Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management
Check out other top-ranked universities in Belgium.
2. Prepare to apply
First things first: look for scholarships in Belgium. You have a lot of options to choose from and high chances that one of them is perfect for you. While you're at it, also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
Like any other country, learn more about the student visa requirements. If you’re from the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), you won't need it. But all international students need to apply for a residence permit.
For example, since 2008, all students from China have had to obtain a special certificate from the Centre of Academic Assessment from Beijing to be added to their visa file.
3. Figure out where to submit your application
StudyInBelgium.be will be your general guide throughout the application process.
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 the official programme page and you will see the details for the application.
4. Check the language requirements
Most courses in Belgium are either in French or in English. Each study programme 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 international students, Belgium universities organise special French courses, so if you wish to learn while you’re there, you should be covered.
5. Collect the required university application documents
General application documents
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.
Other basic admission requirements include:
- Passport picture
- Bachelor’s degree or transcript of records
- Proof of language proficiency
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.
6. Meet the university application deadlines in 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:
- start of March: Application deadline for students who need a visa
- start of June: Application deadline for students who DO NOT need a visa
- 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
7. Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter
After being accepted, you have to actually enrol. To be properly enrolled, you will have to:
- Pay the tuition fee
- Send the proper documentation
When you land in Belgium, you will also have to pay a visit to the university, so you can 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 residence 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 at 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!