Belgium

Why study a PhD in Belgium

Browse all PhD programmes in Belgium

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Study in Belgium

Belgium is literally one of the most multicultural places on Earth, especially since the country is composed of three regions, each one corresponding to one of the three official languages (Dutch, French, and German). Known as the heart of Europe, Belgium is a hub of international cooperation and networking, offering an enriching educational experience

Belgium is steeped in history and has a unique mix of cultures. Here, you will discover many medieval castles and historical sites - like the battlefield of Waterloo.

Around half of all students enrolled in Belgian universities and colleges are international, and you’ll benefit from a high standard of education with a great research focus.

Why study in Belgium?

1. Belgium universities are among the best in Europe

International rankings often list Belgian universities among the best higher education institutions in Europe. The most popular areas of study are Social Sciences (e.g. Economics, International Relations, Political Science), the Humanities, Journalism, and Medicine.

2. Tuition fees are affordable

In Belgium, tuition rates vary based on your nationality, the region where you study, the type of university, the chosen academic programme, and so on. One thing to keep in mind is that the tuition policy is fair and the universities offer scholarships and grants.

On average, internationals can expect to pay anywhere between 800 and 9,000 EUR per academic year. As a broad rule, fees are lower for EU/EEA students.

3. Belgium is one of the most globalised countries in the world

Belgium's high level of globalisation is an inevitable positive consequence of the international collaboration between Belgian institutions (both public and private) and other organisations from all over the world. This means that foreign citizens will feel at home and won't take too long to settle and enjoy the local lifestyle.

4. It is a paradise for language enthusiasts

In addition to the three official languages — Dutch, German, and French — a significant number of Belgians also speak English. So if you dream of becoming a polyglot or you simply want to know the basics of as many languages as possible, you should definitely study in Belgium.

5. Iconic buildings and historic places wait to be discovered

There are numerous historic buildings and places you can visit during your time as a student. Here are only a few examples to get you started: the Grand Palace, the Atomium, Ardennes, the medieval tower Belfry of Bruges, the Mini-Europe miniature park, Gravensteen — the 10th century castle, the Royal Palace of Brussels, the battlefields of Flanders, etc.

Universities and colleges to attend in Belgium

Belgium has over 40 higher education institutions divided as follows:

  • Universities – award Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees
  • University colleges – provide only Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees without doctoral degrees
  • Arts colleges – degrees specialised in art and design fields
  • Business and management schools – dedicated mostly to graduate degrees in business

Examples of universities in Belgium we recommend:

What is it like to study in Belgium

University lectures usually have a fixed schedule. Your professors are all experts in their field and encourage students (particularly internationals) to ask questions. You will be involved in plenty of research work and can also join internships with local companies.

You will have the chance to create and test out your ideas in cutting-edge laboratories with ultra-modern equipment. You’ll also benefit from several student services including career counselling and tutoring.

What to study in Belgium

Due to its numerous universities, Belgium offers study programmes for all degree levels (Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD) in every field you could ask for. You can study plenty of Art and Design degrees, as well as Business and sciences programmes, such as Medicine, Finance, Political Science, Marketing, or Information Technology.

Here are some of the most popular study options in Belgium

Major cities in Belgium

Belgium has around 10 student cities and each one offers you plenty of social and cultural activities. From museums and beautiful natural surroundings to fancy bars and charming shopping centres, you can have some great and memorable leisure time in Belgium.

Check out some of these cities and learn more about what it is like to study there:

How to apply

You can apply through the official website dedicated to higher education studies in Belgium.

You can also contact your chosen university first and check if you can simply apply through their website. Carefully check all the required application documents and make sure they are all translated into English. For instance, an internationally recognised Bachelor's degree or equivalent is the main requirement when enrolling in a Master’s degree at a university in Belgium.

Make sure to know what the language requirements are, and whether you need to prove skills in English before enrolling in a degree programme.

Show how you performed as a student, and be sure to know what your Grade Point Average (GPA) was during your studies.

To help your chances of going to Belgium, be sure to apply to more than one university!

Make sure you qualify for a Belgium university

Take Preparation Courses

These kinds of courses enable degree-seeking students to get an extra educational boost just before they start their Master’s degree or other post-graduate degree programmes.

Try a pre-M.B.A., pre-Law, or pre-Medicine programme, as well as any other foundation or preparation courses that will allow you to study in the degree programme of your choice.

Improve your English through an English-language prep course

If you’re attending a degree programme in Belgium, you will sometimes need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.

English-language tests

Since Belgium has three national languages — Dutch, French, and German — the language of instruction at universities is dependent on the language of the local community where the institution is located. However, you will also find plenty of English-taught degrees; on our portals alone, there are over 350 programmes.

Universities in Belgium will want to see proof that you have good English-language skills, so that you can easily succeed in their courses. Almost all Belgium universities accept these official English exams:

Living in Belgium

Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Belgium:

Tuition fees in Belgium

In Belgium, tuition fees vary based on a variety of factors: your nationality, the type of university, the region where you study (Belgium is split into 3 regions), and so on.

EU/EEA students can expect lower tuition fees than non-EU/EEA students. Still, Belgium universities are known to be fair when they set tuition fees. If the price is higher, it means the study programme is more specialised or scholarships might be available.

Private universities are usually more expensive than public ones. Check out the official website of your university to find you what tuition applies to you. You can always contact a university representative for other questions or advice.

Accommodation costs

The most convenient accommodation options are university halls of residence, for which most students only pay between 200 and 450 EUR per month.

Renting or sharing an apartment is a bit more expensive, costing around 500–700 EUR per month. For this type of accommodation (private rent), you also need to pay between 100 and 400 EUR for monthly utilities.

Health care

EU/EEA students enjoy the same benefits as Belgian citizens in terms of access to free or reduced-cost healthcare. To benefit from these services, you should hold an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). You can arrange for an EHIC card from your home country, before your departure to Belgium.

Students coming from non-EU countries will need to arrange private health insurance before their departure.

Food costs

Belgium is not an expensive country when it comes to food costs. Supermarkets have affordable prices, meaning that your monthly food bills would generally stay around 200–300 EUR.

Belgium has fantastic cuisine, particularly in terms of desserts. So, considering it isn’t so expensive, you should definitely treat yourself to a nice restaurant every once in awhile. A meal in a mid-range restaurant is between 8 and 15 EUR.

Overall, the average living costs for students in Belgium are between 750–1,100 EUR/month.

About Belgium

Belgium is a country in northwest Europe bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. Belgium is a federal monarchy, divided into three main regions: the Dutch region of Flanders, the French region of Wallonia and the capital region of Brussels – a mix of French and Dutch. However, English is also widely spoken, especially in Brussels.

This multicultural environment offers a lesson in tolerance, openness, and determination.

Belgium has the highest quality of life in the European Union. Since Belgium is situated at the crossroads of Europe, anywhere you’ll live, you’ll be close to major capitals such as Paris, Amsterdam, London, or Berlin (so you should definitely pay a visit to these iconic cities).

Belgium has a rich and diverse economy with the most thriving sectors being chemicals, food processing, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, electronics, and machinery fabrication.

You would experience four different seasons in Belgium, with cold and snowy winters and warm to sometimes hot summers.

Iconic places to visit

While in Belgium, you can admire splendid architectural buildings and bridges that combine Gothic and Romanesque elements. But you can also have a fun night out in one of the many bars and clubs.

Here are some of the most beautiful places to see in Belgium

  • Belfry & Halle
  • Cathedral of Saint Bavo
  • Gravensteen –one of Europe's best surviving fortresses
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Meuse Valley
  • Bouillon Castle
  • The Grand Place (or Grote Markt)
Fun facts
  • A Belgian priest and physicist was the first person to theorise what we now call the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. Since then, this theory has given way to new scientific developments, and a geek-centred T.V. show.
  • Europe’s first skyscraper was built in Belgium in 1928; it is the Torengebouw in Antwerp.
  • The longest tram line in the world is the Belgian Coast Tram;it travels the Belgian coast between the French and Dutch borders.
  • Belgium produces 220,000 tonnes of chocolate per year. This means around 22 kg of chocolate for every person living there.
  • Belgium is the land of numerous beers, since over 800 kinds of beers are made here.
  • After Washington D.C., Brussels has the highest number of diplomats and foreign press correspondents in the world.

Find PhDs Degrees in Belgium

Recent international policies promote international university cooperation and student exchange between countries worldwide. High-quality study and PhD degrees are made more available to students in order to create a global educational network, achievable through student and staff mobility. Career and research oriented programmes support international student development.

University cooperation enables students study worldwide, for instance in Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States and provides ways of recognizing previous degrees. Different study options offer appropriate alternatives to students, depending on their preferred mode of study.

Many study programmes in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America are English-taught. The most popular international student destinations include the following countries: Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, the United States, and more. However, these are not the only countries offering English-taught education. The rest of the world is full of endless study choices, from highly ranked to smaller, more specialized, universities.

PhD (postgraduate) Degrees

If you want further education beyond the undergraduate level or if you want more personal development or a career in academia, you could obtain a PhD degree. PhD degrees are postgraduate programmes that usually follow a Master's, MPhil or MRes, but there might be additional requirements depending on the university. Students are required to do their own research in a chosen topic. With the help of a supervisor, you develop knowledge and analytical skills in a specific or multidisciplinary field and you carry out independent research. The duration of a PhD degree differs per country and institution. Sometimes your own research is accompanied by work for the department such as giving seminars or small group teaching.

PhD students are required to study on campus under close supervision, but there are universities that accept students enrolled into a part-time distance education PhD degree. Studying on campus can also be full-time as well as part-time, in which case the part-time variant is normally twice as long as the full-time study.

Discover other countries

Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a very popular study destination. Internationals choose this beautiful country because Dutch universities are some of the best in Europe, the living standards are high, foreigners are always welcome, and you get to live in one of the happiest and safest countries in the world. The Netherlands is also renowned for innovative technologies and engineering solutions, which is reflected in the wide range of Engineering degrees offered by universities. English is spoken by around 90% of Dutch citizens, so forget about language barriers. Also, bike lanes and the “cycling culture” will help you to stay fit and healthy, and there are diverse job opportunities and internships for international students.
Czech Republic
Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, you will enjoy top-quality education and research, especially in subjects like Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The number of English-taught degrees offered by Czech universities is constantly growing. This is a response to the numerous international students attracted by academic opportunities and great living standards at reasonable costs. The Czech Republic is among the safest countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index, and it allows you to travel around Europe easily. While out of class, you can visit local attractions like the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the local spas, and hot water springs, etc.
Finland
Finland
Finland is an excellent choice for all internationals and especially for EU/EEA students who can study at local public universities for free. The beautiful Nordic country has one of the best education systems in the world and ranks among the safest and happiest nations in the world. You can also choose from over 400 English-taught programmes. In your spare time, you can explore the breathtaking Finnish nature and landscapes, as well as the numerous lakes that give the country the nickname ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes.’ From here, you can easily travel to neighbouring countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, or Estonia.
Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is among the top countries in the world in terms of quality of life, peace, safety, and development. It represents an appealing blend of beautiful landscapes, English-speaking environments, and a strong, welcoming, and rich culture — of which the Irish people are very proud. International students also enjoy the full support of Irish universities, which hire and train staff that are able to help with accommodation, studies, visa details, or any other challenge.
Norway
Norway
Norway is a paradise for anyone who wants to study abroad for free. Public universities don’t charge any tuition fees. This policy applies to all international students, regardless of their nationality. The academic standard is very high, and professors are easy to approach, always willing to go the extra mile for their students. Additionally, classes are organised in small groups, which further improves learning and cooperation. You can choose from a wide range of English-taught programmes, and you don’t need to worry about language barriers outside of classes either, because most Norwegians speak English as a second language. Internationals should find it easy to adapt to Norway’s society, which is based on equality and fair opportunities — reflected both in the legal system and in people’s behaviour.
Poland
Poland
Poland represents a great mix of quality education and affordable costs. International students can choose from over 400 universities where programmes are taught in Polish and English. The main advantage of choosing a Polish-taught degree is that you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. Polish people are known for their hospitality and specific sense of humour, which means you’ll have a lot of fun interacting with locals, making friends, and exploring your surroundings. When you’re not in classes, feel free to travel around, visit the beautiful castles, or go skiing in the Tatra Mountains (during the winter).
Sweden
Sweden
Sweden is a very ambitious, eco-friendly, and visionary country. For example, by 2040, it aims to produce all its energy from renewable sources. Universities play an important role in achieving development goals, thanks to their world-class research facilities. If you’re from the EU/EEA, you can study at public universities for free. As a student, you will discover and easily adopt the three main values of Swedish society: freedom, equality, and sustainability. These values are reflected in every aspect of the local society, and you’ll quickly learn to appreciate them. Language barriers are also almost non-existent since around 80% of Swedes speak English.
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland has one of the most advanced free-market economies, which is reflected in the high living standards and the satisfaction of people living here. In terms of higher education, Swiss universities are constantly ranked among the best in Europe, and they shine in areas like Business, Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Engineering. When compared to Western universities, tuition fees in Switzerland are affordable, and all studies — especially PhD programmes — are world-class. You’ll have the opportunity to develop in a multilingual environment and try learning international languages like German, French, or Italian. If you settle down here, the unemployment rates are low, and salaries are well above the European average.
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Universities in the UK are some of the most highly regarded in the world, and for good reasons. Some of the world's most highly regarded research takes place in British universities, which are regularly featured in international rankings. While studying in the UK, you will be able to develop in a highly multicultural environment with high chances of pursuing lucrative careers after graduation. The teaching in the UK is designed to encourage new idea generation, encouraging individual research and group cooperation, through class discussions and creative assignments.
Canada
Canada
Canada is one of the most popular study destinations in the world due to its high focus on the quality of its universities and its emphasis on attracting international students who can later immigrate. Canadians are very welcoming to international students and they invest a lot into making sure students are safe, treated fairly, and enjoy their stay in the country. Study in one of the strongest economies in the world while enjoying a high living standard and a flexible study environment. Classes have smaller student groups ensuring everyone gets the attention they need, and encouraging group assignments and debates.
United States
United States
The United States is home to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world. With over 150 universities featured in international rankings, the U.S. has some of the best business schools, medical schools, and engineering schools. Universities and colleges in the U.S. are well known for academic flexibility and ways to customize your study experience with optional studies and extracurricular activities. Depending on where you will be studying, you will be able to visit iconic places like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Goldengate Bridge, The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Disney's Magic Kingdom Park, and much more.
Israel
Israel
Israel attracts international students through high standards of education and a wide range of English-taught degrees. Local universities shine in areas like Technology, Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship. In fact, Israel is a renowned land of innovation, having earned itself the nickname ‘Start-Up Nation’. While living and studying here, you will discover a wonderful culture developed throughout 4,000 years of history; different cultural influences are noticeable everywhere, especially in Israeli food, art, and history. In major cities, English is widely spoken, so communication shouldn’t be a problem. In your spare time, you can visit one of the over 400 nature reserves and 80 national parks.
Australia
Australia
By studying in Australia you will take advantage of the great student environment both inside and outside classrooms. In addition to some of the best business and engineering schools in the world, you will be able to explore a greatly developed country that still retains its wild side with its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and the Great Outback, with over 500 national parks. Many Australian universities provide internships and work placements, preparing students early on for the job market.

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