IMPORTANT: Please be informed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the 4CITIES 2020-2022 cohort has been postponed one year. No new students will begin 4CITIES in 2020, and those who originally planned to do so will now begin in 2021. The application window will therefore not open again until 01 November, 2021.
It is possible that a small number of places for the next cohort will become available for self-paying students only. Should you be interested in joining 4CITIES in September 2021 as a self-funded student, please consult this website starting in January 2021 for eventual updates and information on the application procedure.
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 once the application window opens.
FAQs by topic
Deadlines & Important Dates
When will the application window for 2021 open?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 4CITIES cohort that expected to begin in September 2020 has been postponed to September 2021. Therefore, the next application window will be for the academic year beginning in September 2022. This window will open on 01 November, 2021. For students applying for a scholarship, the application deadline is 15 January, 2022. All students applying before this deadline will automatically be considered for a scholarship. Self-paying students are invited to submit their applications from 16 January, 2022, until 15 March, 2022.
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 who are denied admission during the scholarship window but would like to be considered for a self-paying spot can simply send us an email letting us know – there is no need to resubmit your application.
When will application decisions be communicated?
Scholarship applicants will be notified of their admission status via email by 01 March, 2022. Self-paying applicants will be notified by 15 April, 2022.
When do classes begin?
The first semester of 4CITIES takes place in Brussels, Belgium. In 2021, classes are expected to begin on Monday, 13 September. An information packet with all relevant details is sent to incoming 4CITIES students once all admissions decisions are finalised.
Application Process & Requirements
How do I apply for 4CITIES?
Applying for 4CITIES is easy. Simply (1) register for the online application module, which is made available as soon as the application window opens, (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.
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 (MSc. in Urban Studies) from six partner universities in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Madrid. Research and Practice Track students earn a double degree (also MSc. in Urban Studies) from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Vienna.
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
- 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 or JPG)
- Passport-style photograph (JPG)
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 markslist. 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. 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.
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 to start with. 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 organised beforehand. European students do not need any visa. If you come from a non-EU country (“third country student”), you will have to apply for a visa for each host countries (Belgium, Austria, etc.). 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 are 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?
Usually twice per year – once per semester. It depends on how often you change countries. Non-EU Classical Track students will need four visas, for example: Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Spain.
What does this mean for my personal organization?
When you arrive at your first university, you have to find a room and organize your time table. During the first semester (September-January), you will register and apply for a residence permit based on your student visa. Once you have obtained your residence permit you should also apply for the visa for your next university.
Are there additional requirements for students from China?
Students from China please keep in mind that you need an APS certificate. We advise you to contact us before contacting the Belgian or any other European embassy.
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 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 300-500 EUR per month to rent a room in a shared flat.
Fees & Scholarships
How much does 4CITIES cost?
The 2020-2022 participation fee for 4CITIES (which includes tuition and administrative fees at all six universities) is 4500 EUR per academic year for EU nationals and 9000 EUR per academic year for non-EU nationals. 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 700-800 EUR per month on accommodation, food, transport, and entertainment, with some able to get by on as little as 500 EUR per month. Certainly, 1000 EUR per month is more than sufficient.
Are scholarships available?
4CITIES offers approximately 20 Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) scholarships per year. Please see our fees & scholarships page for more information. Also, once registered, please see section 5 of the online application module for further details.