Biology, M.Sc.

  • Application Deadline
  • 24 months
  • English (book IELTS)
Biodiversity crisis, stem cell research and avian flue: every day, biologists face new research challenges, from the level of single molecules to whole ecosystems. A Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) master’s degree in Biology allows you to contribute to research, share your knowledge through teaching, or to apply it in public service or private industry.


Biology is by nature a multifaceted science. Today’s biologists face a growing number of research challenges, such as the link between global change and the ongoing biodiversity crisis, or the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria. Such topics require integrative approaches, combining elements from different scientific domains. The Master of Science in Biology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel includes five graduation options. Each of these allows you to specialise in your research field of interest, while a broad range of electives provide the opportunity to maintain and develop a multidisciplinary scope.

Graduation option 1: Ecology and Biodiversity

This option allows students to gain experience in the research methods used to study the ecology and evolution of organisms found in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems. Expert staff teaches up-to-date knowledge on individual organisms, populations, species, communities and ecosystems, backed up by their active research experience in biodiversity, vertebrate and invertebrate ecology, evolutionary ecology, biogeography, plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, conservation genetics of populations and nature management. Students are introduced into ecological research by means of practical field training and excursions in Belgium and abroad. Master’s Thesis research happens on any continent.

Graduation option 2: Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences

This option introduces students to the study of animal and plant development, microbiology, cell signaling pathways, cancer biology, stem cell biology, human biology, virology and immunology. Courses of this profile span multiple levels of biological organisation, from whole organisms down to the molecular level. Students choosing this profile not only gain detailed insights into these topics but also acquire the lab skills required to engage in cutting-edge research. The presence of a highly experienced research staff and state-of-the-art equipment ensures an ideal training ground, and excellent opportunities to enter a PhD programme after graduation or to join the biotech or pharma industry.

Graduation option 3: Herpetology

Some of the world’s finest herpetologists have joined forces to organise this programme in Herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles. Ecological and herpetological field courses in European and tropical countries form an important part of the programme. As a student, you will be in a stimulating environment, with fellow students and visiting top scientists sharing your passion for amphibians and reptiles. The goal of this programme is to prepare you in a unique way for a professional career in herpetology, but due to the integrative approach and embedding of this option in a standard Biology programme, your degree leaves doors open for any other career in Biology.

Graduation option 4: Human Ecology - ICP

Are you fascinated by 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. This programme addresses an international audience of students and offers a course programme that, as well as scientific topics, addresses methodological, socioeconomical and political aspects. It provides the ideal basis for young scientists who would like to play a key role in dealing with human ecological challenges in their home countries. The Human Ecology programme has the ICP (International Course Programme) label which means that the content of the courses focuses on a development-oriented subject.

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 basis.

Graduation option 5: Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems - EMMC TROPIMUNDO

TROPIMUNDO is an EC-funded and excellence-labeled Erasmus Mundus Masters Course in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems. We bring together top institutes and universities, with long-standing worldwide expertise in tropical rainforests and woodlands and in tropical coastal ecosystems. Students can focus on botany, zoology and integrative ecosystem approaches in institutions worldwide in 2 Master years, of which an entire semester is spent in the tropics.

Programme Structure

Courses Included:

  • Analysis of Biological Data
  • Marine Biology
  • River & Lake Ecology
  • Social - Ecological Systems
  • Bioethics
  • Biogeography
  • Fieldtrip Ecology
For more information please visit the program website.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • More details:

    All students who require visa and apply after April 1st (and before June 1st, as this is the deadline) will be charged an administrative cost of 100€.

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 24 months
  • Credits
    120 ECTS
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Book IELTS
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL – or Test OF English as a Foreign Language – offers a paper-based test (PBT). The final, overall PBT score ranges between 310 and 677, and is based on an average taken from the three test components (listening, structure, and reading). The writing part of this test is scored separately on a scale of 0-6. Read more about TOEFL (PBT).

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

Academic Requirements

General required documents:

  • passport
  • picture
  • bachelor degree (or enrollment certificate when you are in your final year of studies)
  • transcript of records
  • proof of English-language proficiency

Extra documents:

  • motivation letter
  • 2 reference letters (written by an academic)

Chinese nationals:

  • all documents als stated above +
  • APS certificate

Tuition Fee

  • International Applies to you

    906 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 906 EUR per year and a duration of 24 months.
  • EU/EEA Applies to you

    906 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 906 EUR per year and a duration of 24 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Brussels

  • 885 - 1310 EUR/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


TROPIMUNDO candidates can apply for an EC scholarship, which is limited by a number of criteria. Only candidates who have applied to and have been accepted by the TROPIMUNDO consortium in accordance with its specific students' application and selection criteria, are eligible.

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) participates in many scholarship programmes offering grants to all levels of study.

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, StudyPortals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.