For any questions about the 4CITIES application process, this page should be your first stop. For more detailed information, please see the online application module (only available while the application window is open).
FAQs by topic
PLEASE NOTE: The 4CITIES program will end in 2025. The last application period was in 2023, and no further applications will be accepted. If you are interested in studying in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, or Madrid, we recommend the following programs:
- MSc in Urban Studies (VUB & ULB – Brussels)
- MA in Regional Research & Planning (University of Vienna)
- MSc in Landscape Architecture or MA in Advanced Migration Studies (University of Copenhagen)
- EUROSUD International Master in South European Studies (Autonoma University Madrid)
- Master in Smart and Sustainable Cities or Master in Applied Sociology: Social Problems (Complutense University Madrid)
Deadlines & Important Dates
When can I apply?
The application deadline for all students wishing to begin their studies in September, 2023, was 16 January, 2023. The application window is now closed. Applications can be submitted until 12:00 CET (midday in Brussels) on the deadline day. No applications will be reviewed until the application window closes.
Students from all over the world (from all countries) are eligible to apply. Of the 40 places available, approximately 20 will receive Erasmus Mundus scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for scholarships. Applicants also wishing to be considered as self-paying students should select this option in the online application module (only available while the application window is open). Selecting the self-paying option does NOT impact a student’s chance of receiving a scholarship; the two selection processes are independent of each other. Please only apply for a self-paying place if you have sufficient financial means.
When will application decisions be communicated?
There are three possible admissions decisions: accepted, waitlisted, not selected. All admissions decisions will be communicated by 01 March, 2023.
When do classes begin?
The first semester of 4CITIES takes place in Brussels, Belgium. In 2022, classes began on Monday, 19 September. An information packet with all relevant details is sent to incoming 4CITIES students once all admissions decisions are finalized.
Application Process & Requirements
How do I apply for 4CITIES?
Applying for 4CITIES is easy. Simply (1) register for the online application module (only available while the application window is open), (2) enter the required information and upload the required documents before the application deadline, then (3) wait for our decision. The most time-consuming part of the process is the gathering and preparing of documents for upload, particularly the English language proficiency requirement. Make sure to read through the entire online application module as soon as you register, as it contains updated information not available on the website.
How much is the application fee?
There is no application fee. Applying to 4CITIES is free of charge.
Can I apply for multiple tracks (classical, research, practice)?
No, applicants can only apply for one of the three tracks and must indicate their choice in the application module. Please keep in mind that Classical Track students earn a joint degree (Master of Science in Urban Studies) from six partner universities in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Madrid. Research and Practice Track students earn a double degree (also Master of Science in Urban Studies) from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Vienna.
How should I decide which track to apply for?
It is of course entirely up to each student to decide which track to apply for. Please keep in mind that students in the Research and Practice Tracks have an independently organized second year. They do not continue on to Copenhagen and Madrid to study with the rest of the student cohort. Instead, they must find and secure a semester-length internship and a study exchange at one of our partner universities (it is also possible to fulfill second year course requirements at either VUB or the University of Vienna). This means that Research and Practice Track students must be highly organized, disciplined, and independent. These tracks are designed for students who already have an advanced idea of what they want to study and what they want to do with that knowledge.
What documents do I need to complete my application?
All applicants must submit the following documents (all in PDF unless otherwise noted):
- Diploma from previous studies
- Marks list from previous studies
- Motivation letter
- Curriculum vitae
- 2 Recommendation letters
- Proof of English language proficiency (please begin well in advance; see How to Apply and the online application module for more information)
- Proof of relevant activities
- Valid passport (PDF)
- Passport-style photograph (JPG)
- Residence certificate (only for EMJMD scholarship applicants)
For more information on all required documents, see How to Apply and read through the entire online application module carefully.
What if I don’t have one of the required documents?
Required documents are exactly that: required. Please read through the online application module to see which documents pertain to you. No exceptions / exemptions can be made.
How long should my motivation letter be?
Motivation letters should not exceed two pages.
Do I have to submit official hardcopies of any documents?
Yes, but only if you are offered admission to 4CITIES. For the application, you will only need digital files (PDF) of the required documents to submit online.
What languages can application materials be submitted in?
4CITIES is an English language program. However, the diploma and marks list will be accepted in English, Dutch, French, or German. If either the official diploma or official marks list is in another language, then two versions must be submitted: the original and a certified translation into English, Dutch, French, or German. Recommendation letters and description of activities must be submitted in English. Other required documents may be submitted in their original language.
Which academic backgrounds are eligible?
Applicants are eligible for 4CITIES if they have at least a 180 ECTS academic bachelor degree or its equivalent in geography, planning, architecture, history, criminology, political science, sociology, demography, media & communication studies, cultural studies, or a similar discipline. Admission to 4CITIES will be based on equivalence of diploma, i.e. the diploma must be equal to at least a 180 ECTS bachelor degree (three years of full-time studies). Students with a background in engineering are also welcome to apply but must explicitly mention in their motivation letter how their former studies prepared them for 4CITIES.
If your field of studies is not mentioned above (and is not from a similar discipline), please contact us. Please BRIEFLY explain how your degree has helped prepare you for graduate-level urban studies and provide a full marks list. Emails that do not fulfill both requirements will be disregarded.
What if I haven’t finished my studies yet?
Students may apply even if they have not yet completed their studies. However, they must have completed at least the required bachelor degree (or equivalent) before the start of the 4CITIES academic year. If you have not received your diploma yet, you can instead upload proof of enrollment this year and if possible a transcript that includes all completed ECTS.
Selection & Registration
How many applications are accepted?
4CITIES offers admission to approximately 40 students each year. These are selected from a pool of 600-800 qualified applicants.
How are applicants evaluated?
A strong academic record and proficiency in English are prerequisites. Beyond these, the motivation letter and recommendations are weighted most heavily. 4CITIES looks for free-thinking, academic students who are also engaged in urban and societal issues and have an informed perspective.
Is there a waiting list?
Yes. Applicants who are considered to be qualified for 4CITIES but are not initially offered admission due to limited space are placed on a waiting list. Wait-listed applicants will be informed if and when a place opens up.
I emailed 4CITIES about a problem with my application but have not received a response. What should I do?
Due to the number of applicants, we cannot respond to emails that can be answered by reading through the online application module (available once the application window opens). If something went wrong or you have a problem you can contact us. Do not forward your email to other addresses. If you do not hear from us within 5 working days, feel free to send us a polite reminder. Please be precise and complete in your question.
If my application is not accepted, will you tell me why?
No, unfortunately it is not possible for us to provide feedback on submitted applications.
Can I appeal the decision if my application was not accepted?
The decisions of the 4CITIES Application Committee are final and irrevocable. However, an appeal procedure is possible in certain special cases.
My application was accepted – what happens next?
Congratulations! We will provide a list of instructions for the next steps after admission, but you should immediately begin the visa application process.
Where do I register for classes?
Initial registration for 4CITIES is at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), which serves as the hosting and admitting university for the 4CITIES program. All necessary information will be provided.
Visa & Housing
Do I need a visa?
Students from EU countries do not need a visa. However, all third-country (non-EU) students do.
Which type of visa do I need?
Be sure to apply for a long stay multiple entry student D visa for Belgium. You should make your first entry to Belgium on a student visa and not a tourist visa in order to avoid long administrative procedures and the risk of having to travel back to your home country once your tourist visa expires.
How do I apply for a visa?
National embassies handle visa applications. For 4CITIES students, the first student visa application should be made at the Belgian embassy nearest you. For more information, visit the Belgian website for foreign affairs.
When should I begin the visa process?
The visa process should be started immediately after you have received an acceptance letter from 4CITIES. It cannot be organized beforehand. European students do not need any visa. 4CITIES will try to provide information and assistance, but procuring visas is the individual responsibility of each student.
How long does the visa procedure take?
The duration of the visa procedure depends on your home country and on the agreement that exists between your country and the one you’re going to study in. There are visa procedures which can take up to six months, in extreme cases. In our experience, three to four months is quite common. It is best to start very early with gathering information in order to make sure you are ready whenever you receive the papers sent by us.
How often do I have to ask for a visa during my studies?
Once, most likely. Non-EU students should receive a two-year residence permit from Belgium. Visa guidance and notification of any regulatory changes will be provided in Brussels during the first semester.
Are there additional requirements for students from China?
Students from China receiving an EMJMD scholarship do not need an APS certificate. However, some self-paying students do. Self-paying Chinese nationals should contact us after receiving their admission acceptance letter.
Where can I look for additional visa information?
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgium
- OeAD in Austria
- University of Copenhagen
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Spain
Is housing provided?
No. While 4CITIES will provide information, it is up to each student to independently find their own housing.
How do I find housing?
Most students employ a variety of methods, from local online listings to social media groups that exchange housing information and opportunities. 4CITIES will provide some guidance in these matters, and online alumni networks can be invaluable sources.
How much will housing cost?
Housing costs vary depending on location, amenities, and more. Most students pay between 400-600 EUR per month to rent a room in a shared flat.
Fees & Scholarships
How much does 4CITIES cost?
The participation fee for 2023-2025 is 3000 EUR per academic year for self-paying EU nationals, 4500 EUR per academic year for Programme Country scholarship holders, and 9000 EUR per academic year for Partner Country scholarship holders and self-paying non-EU nationals. The participation fee includes tuition and administrative fees at all relevant universities. Please keep in mind that 4CITIES is a two-year program, and that the participation fee does not include travel, accommodation, food, visas, or other costs of living.
How much should students expect to pay for monthly expenses?
While the answer depends a lot on the lifestyle of each student, most students report spending 800-1000 EUR per month on accommodation, food, transport, and entertainment.
Are scholarships available?
4CITIES offers approximately 20 Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) scholarships per year, distributed to particular geographic regions. Please see our fees & scholarships page for more information. Also, once registered, please see the online application module for further details.
NOTE: additional scholarships have been made available to students whose nationality matches one of the following countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates.
So, only people from certain geographic areas are eligible for scholarships?
All applicants are eligible! The total number of scholarships are divided amongst different geographic regions, but no region is excluded. All applicants are automatically considered for a scholarship.
Does Belgium provide any funding schemes?
There is no funding available for 4CITIES students in Belgium. Financial aid needs to be searched for by interested candidates via their home university and/or relevant governmental departments in their home country. Please note that 4CITIES cannot offer assistance in finding or securing external scholarships.