Master of Science in Molecular Biology

Molecular biology is the discipline within the life sciences that aims at understanding the molecular basis of life in health and disease. Obviously, it is a multidisciplinary subject, dealing with the structure and function of molecules as well as their interplay to create the phenomenon life. Research in molecular biology not only intends to produce knowledge, but also offers new opportunities for the development of diagnostic tools, new strategies to improve agricultural production and improve the health status of man and livestock.

This Master is an Interuniversity Programme on Molecular Biology (IPMB), jointly organized by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Universiteit Antwerpen, and selected and supported by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UDC) as one of its international course programmes. Although originally designed to meet the needs of students from developing countries, the programme offers an exquisite opportunity for those who seek re-orientation to enter the fascinating world of molecular biology. Also Erasmus-Socrates students who visit the organizing universities for one or two semesters are most welcome to attend classes and acquire laboratory skills.

Course Outline & Programme

Number of ECTS: 120
Duration: 2 years
Campus: Etterbeek
In cooperation with: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Universiteit Antwerpen

This programme is one of the International Course Programmes supported by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UDC).

Master of Science in Molecular Biology

The programme aims at strengthening and updating the theoretical and practical skills of young scientists from developing countries who are already involved in either human or animal health care, or agricultural research. The goal of the programme is not just to transfer technology but rather to train participants to acquire the ability to cope with a wide range of scientific problems and challenges and to provide them with the intellectual tools needed to develop a molecular biological approach to tackle the problems their country is facing.

Most important topics in molecular biology in first year

In view of the diversity of the background of the students, the first year consists of in depth courses that cover the most important topics in molecular biology and bring the students to the level of knowledge required to successfully follow the advanced and specialization courses of the second year. During intensive laboratory training, students are well prepared to embark for the preparation of their dissertation in the second year.

Advanced courses in second year

In the second year, all students take four advanced courses followed by three specialization courses in either the field of human health, animal production or plant production. Also much time is devoted to the preparation and writing of the dissertation, which is an original research work made under the supervision of a promoter and defended in public.



Admission Requirements


Eligible are holders of a bachelor/master diploma (or equivalent), issued by a Flemish university, in the fields of sciences, applied biological sciences, applied sciences, medicine, veterinarian medicine, pharmacy or holders of the diploma of Industrial Engineering with specialization in Chemistry or Agriculture.

Eligible are also holders of one of the above mentioned diplomas, issued by a non-Flemish university after 4 years of study or after three years of study on condition that the candidate has relevant research experience that can be considered as equivalent to the fourth year of a 4 year study. Applicants should complete the application package and return it to the IPMB secretariat (Vrije Universiteit Brussel-IPMB, Pleinlaan 2, Building E, room E5.01, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium)




Using this pre-registration form, you can pre-register for our two-year Master of Molecular Biology. Based on this information, our programme director and his staff will evaluate if you are eligible to register to our program. We only accept pre-registration through this form. All correspondence will proceed via electronic mail. No reply will be sent to applicants who fail to enclose all required information.

The Examination Board will select the first succesfull candidates who are eligible to register on the 1st of April. A second selection round will be held on the 1st of May.

Please note that this is not an application for a scholarship. Pre-registration gives no right to financial support of any kind. Pre-applicants cannot be guaranteed to fully register.

Please send the completed pre-registration form to Rudi Willems (

Once you received a positive answer to your pre-application you have to proceed to the final application.

All necessary information regarding the admission requirements, deadlines and application forms can be found on the web page 'How to enroll as a student'.

Language requirements

In order to be admitted, you need to be proficient in English. The language requirements can be found on the website.




A limited number of scholarships is offered by VLIR-UDC for participants from developing countries. For details on the application procedure and forms, please consult the VLIR-UOS website.

Citizens of countries with bilateral agreements with Belgium can apply through the Belgian Embassy for a scholarship from the Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC). For details and procedures, please contact the Belgian diplomatic representation in your country or consult the BTC-website. Similarly, citizens of countries that have bilateral agreements with the Flemish community can apply for a scholarship. For details, please consult the website of the Flemish community.



Career Opportunities

Masters of Molecular Biology find employment in universities, hospitals, private and governmental research laboratories, patenting bureaus, as lecturers, consultants, advisors to policy makers etc. Many graduates proceed to PhD-programmes in Belgium or abroad. Students from developing countries can apply for VLIR-UDC support to re-integrate at home or for a sandwich PhD-scholarship. Flemish students can apply for a PhD scholarship of VLIR-UDC to make a PhD on developmental relevant topics.



Alumni testify

IPMB has been a propelling force for my career development. Such is the quality of education provided by IPMB that, in addition to the offer in Germany, I have a second PhD offer with the West African Rice Development Agency (WARDA), to work on the genetic mechanisms underlying drought resistance in rice. Part of this work will be conducted at the biotechnology facility of the University of Cornell in the USA. However, I decided to accept the German offer.

Christian Dimkpa, Nigeria (PhD student at the International Max Planck Research School, Germany

The IPMB MSc was extremely important in my career development as it paved the way for me to receive a promotion from the University of Zambia's staff development program (as a trainee lecturer) to the position of a full-time lecturer at the institution. The MSc was also pivotal in allowing me to successfully compete and receive a PhD scholarship in the United Kingdom.

Joseph Nkolola, Zambia (PhD at Oxford University, UK; post-doctoral fellow in Harvard University School of Public Health, USA)



Our Student Service

Students at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel are not just mere numbers. A lot of attention goes to making sure that you can study in the best possible situation. There are numerous staff members ready to assist you and give advice on all topics related to student life: practical information, medical assistance and finance, study planning, sports and culture, health, transport, housing and food, etc.

For all kinds of help, advice and support, visit the web pages of ‘Student Facilities’.




Interuniversity Programme Molecular Biology
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2 Building E Room 5.01


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