INTERNATIONAL, INTERDISCIPLINARY, INTERACTIVE

Complex societies require complex thinking. In a world of rapid changes and shifting boundaries there is a growing need for minds that are capable of switching perspective and thinking outside of narrow academic boxes. That is why the VUB and Ghent University have joined forces to create an innovative model of interdisciplinary and interuniversity education: the Bachelor in Social Sciences (BScSS). Located in the heart of Europe and boasting a student body of seventy different nationalities, the BScSS provides a uniquely diverse learning environment that helps students to tackle the global problems of the future.

1 Programme
2 Universities
3 Disciplines

Drawing on the combined insights of three disciplines – sociology, political science and communication studies – the BScSS offers a three-year, English-language program that provides students with the academic tools that help them to analyze and better understand the societies they live in. Throughout these three years you will become intimately familiar with the three scientific disciplines that build the core of our program.

COMMUNICATION STUDIES

Which role did the tabloid press play in “Brexit”? How is the refugee crisis portrayed in the media? What is the business model of Netflix? Why do some of us share private information and intimate feelings on social media? Communication scientists are fascinated by these types of questions and wish to know more about the impact of media and communication on our everyday lives and on society as a whole. The communication angle of the program provides you with the concepts and techniques that help you to critically reflect upon the every-increasing role of (digital) media in our society. 

SOCIOLOGY

Why do certain kids do better at school than others? Which factors determine the type of job or income a person will get? Where do differences in musical taste come from? Why is our society so obsessed with beauty and slimness? Why do certain people live longer and healthier lives than others? These are just some of the questions posed and answered by sociologists. From the structure of large-scale social systems – like states or labor markets – to the fine details of everyday interaction, sociologists aim to uncover the basic principles that shape social life. The sociological pillar of our program provides you with the concepts and techniques that help you study and understand these principles.

POLITICAL SCIENCE

Is China on its way to becoming the next global superpower? Did the USA become more polarised under Donald Trump? What explains the rise of populism? Should migrants have the right to vote in their host countries? What does democracy really mean? Political scientists love to sink their teeth into these types of questions, and analyze how societies govern themselves and make decisions. The political pillar of our program provides you the theories, concepts and techniques to better understand the ways in which power operates from the level of everyday citizen interactions to political struggles situated at the international level.

330 students
from 70 countries

At the BScSS we aim to train students who are not only capable of discussing complex problems, but who can also effectively study those problems. That is why a considerable part of the curriculum is devoted to acquiring some of the key methods deployed by the social sciences from statistical analysis to interviewing and from participant observation to content analysis. Through a combination of theoretical lectures and hands-on exercises you will learn to formulate key research problems and pick the techniques that are best suited to solving them.

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One programme. Two universities. Three years.

From the start, courses will be taught by both VUB and Ghent University lecturers. In year one (organized at the VUB) you will be introduced to the three main disciplinary perspectives: communication studies, political sciences and sociology. You will also get your first taste of research methods, develop your academic writing skills and your will learn to process, structure and discuss key ideas in the social sciences.

During the second year (also at the VUB), we build on the insights developed in the first year, hone your skills in critical thinking and further work on your capacity to analyze, discuss and present academic research. This is also the year in which we start to more actively combine the insights from the three disciplines and explore the points of convergence and difference between them. 

In the third year, you will have to choose an orientation in accordance with the discipline in which you want to specialize: sociology, communication studies or political science. This is also the year in which you will start taking courses at Ghent University and will have the opportunity to go abroad for a semester (through the Erasmus-program or the other exchange opportunities offered by the BScSS). Your experience will culminate in the writing of a bachelor paper in which you will demonstrate the academic skills you have developed over the past three years.

Entry requirements

In order to get accepted, you will have to meet all entry requirements:

Academic requirements

To start a Bachelor programme at the VUB, you need to have a secondary school diploma from the Belgian educational system or a secondary school credential that grants you access to higher education in your home country. Some international high school credentials are deemed equivalent to a Belgian degree of secondary education and grant direct access (if you also have a proof of language proficiency) to our Bachelor programmes. You can find the list here: list of equivalent secondary school certificates.

English language requirements

You will have to prove your English language proficiency via one of the following ways:

1. provide proof of having successfully completed secondary education in the Belgian educational system;

2. provide a diploma of secondary or higher education where English was the language of instruction;

3. provide a certificate of one of the following language proficiency tests corresponding to the Common European Framework of Reference with minimum level B2: 

  • TOEFL with minimum level: iBT 79, PBT 550 or CBT 213
  • IELTS academic module, with minimum level: 6.5
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE), with at least grade B
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), with at least grade C

Certificates and other proof of language tests may not pre-date the first enrolment by more than two years.

Deadline(s)

All non-EEA students will have to submit their application before June 1st. Non-EEA applications submitted before April 1st receive an "early-bird" discount of €100 (exemption of the application fee).

All European students will have to submit their application before September 1st.

Tuition fees

All Belgian universities offer high-quality education at a very reasonable cost. The annual fee for enrolling in the Bachelor in Social Sciences, in the academic year 2017-2018 was €906,10 for regular EEA students and €2.950,00 for non-EEA students. For more information on tuition fees, go to https://student.vub.be/en/student-administration#tuition-fee.

Application procedure

1. Submit your application file here

2. Screening process (both at central and faculty level)

3. Outcome of screening: if accepted, you will receive a letter of acceptance

4. Enroll at VUB university campus (in person)

Application documents

Applicants will have to upload the following documents:

  • ID card/passport copy
  • passport photo (comes on your student card, once accepted & enrolled)
  • secondary education degree
  • transcript of records (only for non-EEA diploma)
  • motivational letter (only for non-EEA students)
  • proof of English language requirement (if applicable)

If you do not possess all required documents, you can already submit your application and send us your late documents when available (you can send them to socialsciences@vub.ac.be mentioning your application context).

Questions about the programme

  1. What should my level of English be in order to follow the programme?

We are not looking for the next Shakespeare, but our program is nevertheless very language-driven (if you do not like to read and write, the BScSS is probably not for you). This means you will have to read and understand complex academic texts in English and will have to be able to produce both written and verbal arguments in English yourself. Since our curriculum does not include English-language courses we expect you to have a sound proficiency in English before enrolling. If you are not certain of your language skills, please refer to the language admission requirements.

  1. What should my level of maths be in order to follow the programme?

We are not looking for the next Einstein, but courses on statistics form an integral part of our curriculum. While these courses are designed to gradually help you develop your statistical skills, we do expect you to have a firm grasp of basic mathematical operations. If you are not sure about your mathematical skills, this document with sample exercises can help you assess whether your prior knowledge is sufficient to follow the statistical courses.

  1. After choosing one of the three orientations in the 3rd year, will this grant me direct access into a Master’s programme in the same field, at one of the two host universities?

Yes, graduating from the programme after having chosen on the three orientations will grant you direct access into one of Master’s programmes in that same field, at one of the two host universities (provided you fulfil all other admission requirements of the chosen programme). In addition you can also chose to enrol in Master’s programs in any of the other two orientations at both VUB and Ghent University. For more information, please consult our Master programme offers.

  1. After choosing one of the three orientations in the 3rd year, can I still be granted direct access into a Master’s programme in one of the other fields?

Given that the BScSS is an internationally accredited degree, it will grant you access to any Master’s program that accepts a social sciences-bachelor both in Belgium and abroad. All of this of course depends on the specific entry requirements of the Master’s programme you wish to pursue. Please consult our Master programme offers for more information.

Practicalities

  1. What is the tuition fee for an EEA national?

The tuition fee for a regular EEA national for the academic year 2017-2018 was: €906,10. This page will provide you with more detailed information on tuition fees.

  1. What is the tuition fee for a non-EEA national?

The tuition fee for a regular non-EEA national for academic year 2017-2018 was: €2.950,00. This page will provide you with more detailed information on tuition fees

  1. Are there any scholarship options at the VUB?

Although the Vrije Universiteit Brussel participates in many scholarship programmes offering grants to all levels of study, there are currently no grants or scholarships for students who wish to enrol in the BScSS programme.

Depending on your nationality, family situation and income, you might however be eligible for a Study Allowance granted by the Flemish government. For more information on financial support, please contact the Study Guidance Center.

  1. Do I need a visa to study in Belgium?

Visa requirements are mainly determined by 3 factors: how long the person will be staying in Belgium (more or less than 90 days); the applicant’s nationality, EEA or non-EEA; and the purpose of the stay (studying, working, family reunion, etc.). Depending on the applicant’s profile, some formalities may have to be performed in the country of origin (visa) and a number of administrative steps will have to be taken once in Belgium (ID card). More information on visa requirements can be found here.

  1. What is the VUB Refugee Programme and how can I register for it?

The ‘Welcome Student-refugee programme’ was developed in the wake of the emerging refugee crisis in Europe in 2015-2016. The VUB has developed the programme in order to give students with a refugee background a chance to continue their studies. You can find more information on the programme and how to register for it on this page.

  1. How should I prepare my stay in Brussels?

The VUB has prepared a guide for international students and scholars, regarding the steps needed to prepare for your stay in Brussels.

  1. What are the options for housing at the VUB?

The VUB has prepared a list of temporary accommodation you may need upon your arrival in Brussels, as well as options for permanent accommodation and housing.

  1. What are the options for housing at Ghent University?

Ghent University offers the following options for housing: https://www.ugent.be/en/facilities/housing.

  1. Is Brussels the right city for me?

Brussels is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and the biggest university city in Belgium. We have put together a short guide into the city’s history and important features.

Contact information

  1. Who should I contact regarding the application and enrolment procedure?

For more information on the application and enrolment procedure, please contact the central admissions office.

  1. Who should I contact regarding the programme's content or the evaluation of my academic background?

For more information on the programme and the evaluation of your academic background, please contact the administrative coordinator.

  1. Who should I contact regarding course exemptions and/or credit transfers?

For questions on exemptions and credit transfers, please contact your future study counsellor.

  1. Who should I contact regarding visa regulations/requirements/procedure or Refugee Programme?

For questions on visa regulations and details on the Refugee Programme, please contact the International Relations and Mobility Office (IRMO).

 

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AFTER GRADUATION

The bachelor degree opens doors in many different branches and sectors, and gives you the opportunity to start a master programme at VUB, Ghent University or elsewhere (worldwide).

The end? Or the beginning?

There is no doubt that your Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences (BScSS) will stand out on the labour market. However, the biggest added value of the programme lies in paving the way for ambitious follow-up trajectories, such as master programmes and internships.

Your third bachelor year is designed to help you prepare for this choice. You major in one of the three social sciences composing the programme. It allows you to build expertise in this domain, but without losing track of the other two sciences. That way all choices for master programmes remain open, but you’ll have more insight about what you really want to master in.

At the same time, this last bachelor year offers you multiple contacts with professionals from organisations gravitating around the EU institutions through guest lectures and site visits. It’s a great way to start building your network, with an eye on future.

Master of the universe?

Well, the universe is big. But still, Ghent University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel are two acclaimed universities. Both are well placed on international rankings. The joint project they offer with the BScSS is an internationally accredited bachelor programme. This means your diploma grants you immediate access to many master programmes taught abroad. That’s just one of many possible next stops for you: the UNICAnetwork, the association of universities in European capitals.

Another smart move to consider is pursuing your academic career in one of the available English-taught master programmes at Ghent University or the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. You can join, either directly or via a short preparatory programme, a Master of Science in Communication Studies or a Master of Science in Management.

Master options at Ghent University

Master options at VUB

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On Linked In
Times Higher Education
October 2, 2016

BScSS in the press

Belgian universities target gap in the market for social sciences
New course is already bringing in a strikingly diverse student cohort

"This unusual diversity can only enrich the learning experience if students from across the globe bring a variety of perspectives to contentious international issues."

www.timeshighereducation.com/news/belgian-universities-target-gap-market-social-sciences

The Bulletin, expats.com
August 19, 2017

VUB's English-language bachelor is an instant success
“After only one year, the Free University of Brussels (VUB) has seen a doubling in the number of students enrolled in its new English-language bachelor of Social Science study programme. A second English-language bachelor, Business Economics, is in the pipeline.”

www.xpats.com/vubs-english-language-bachelor-instant-success

De Standaard
November 21, 2017

Engelse mix is de max (in Dutch)

"The most popular programme? It's in English and not tied to a discipline. With the Bachelor in Social Sciences, the VUB and Ghent University have created a multi-headed and popular educational monster."

www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20171120_03198339

Zinaïda Sluijs

Students have their say

"It's a luxury for a 'Bruxelloise' to have the entire world in my classroom without leaving my city."

Basetsana-Emelda Koaho

"This programme provides a wide range of information from different perspectives. It doesn't just give you three options in your career choice but it opens your eyes to seeing the world in different perspectives. You don't just learn from your curriculum but also from your diverse peers."

Ayaan Gambol

"There's no programme like this one out there. Simply put, the quality and diversity of the students has made my time so far a remarkable experience. The intellectual attitudes and uniqueness of the programme truly make it a world class experience. Not only is the Bachelor in Social Sciences at the VUB unique but it is also tailored in a way that allows me to take care of my other responsibilities."