English-language master

international focus

multidisciplinary curriculum

multicultural audience

international exchange & internship options

two-year & daytime classes only

A perfect match

Do you already have a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics, Business Administration or Management and are you looking for a master’s programme with a distinct international and multidisciplinary flavour? Are you interested in a hands-on approach and a programme that can be adapted to your interests and preferences? Then our MSc in International Business is a perfect match for you!

This internationally oriented programme offers students a wide variety of courses ranging from social sciences to finance, combining multiple disciplines relevant to the management of a company. At VUB, students are prepared to become international managers. 

Solvay Business School at VUB

The Faculty of Social Sciences & Solvay Business School has its roots in the founding of the Business Engineer programme by Ernest Solvay in 1903. A long tradition of integrating business education with technology was born then and still continues in all of its programmes. 

We strive to educate our students to become highly skilled professionals with an excellent command of various languages and a good understanding of multiple cultures wanted by national and international public institutions and by multinational companies. 

This programme is organized on the Brussels Humanities, Sciences and Engineering Campus

located in Elsene/ Ixelles, 1050 Brussels

Discover the campus facilities

International university

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is a dynamic and modern university with almost two centuries of history. VUB has 15.000 students, 21% of which are international students from more than 120 different countries. 

Being a student at VUB means learning in an international and open atmosphere of tolerance and diversity that will help you to grow into an independent and critical-thinking individual. 

VUB offers high quality English-taught programmes, supported by outstanding research. VUB is known for treating its students as individuals. Professors and teaching assistants are available and open to answer questions from students. Interactive methods ensure close interaction and contribute to students growing into independent and critical individuals.

Faculty of Social Sciences & Solvay Business School

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Contact the programme coordinator

if you have programme related questions


When does the programme start? What courses are offered?

Discover the programme design

Programme calendar


All new students start mid-September with a series of daytime classes in 13 weeks. The first semester ends in the 3rd week of December (winter break). The first exam session (1st semester courses) is organized in January.


starting halfway February - 8 weeks of class, followed by the spring break, and then another 5 weeks of class. The first exam session (2nd semester courses) is organized at the end of May and in June.


If you would have failed for one or more exams, we have a second exam session organized from mid-August till mid-September. This second chance exam is included in your enrollment and we expect you to attend this exam if you've failed a first exam session (no failed result is transferred to second session).

Programme design

The programme consists out if 120 ECTS and is build on two modules of 60 ECTS. This way, the curriculum can be completed in two academic years. Three types of courses are offered. The first deals with the current international economic context, while the second consists of advanced business courses. The remaining courses are at the intersection of those two fields and focus on doing business in an international context.

Module 1

Compulsory course overview

2nd semester - 6 ECTS

This course provides an accessible and business-oriented introduction to the key topics in international trade. International Trade focuses on international transactions that involve a physical movement of goods, trade in services, and flows of factors of production (migration, foreign direct investment). Three themes are explored: the gains from trade (including the impact of trade on income distribution), the pattern of trade (who sells what to whom?), and protection (if trade is beneficial, why do countries protect domestic production?). Emphasis on the role of the international organizations (European Union, World Trade Organization) throughout.

2nd semester - 6 ECTS

The “International Finance” course aims to provide the future global business and investment managers with the tools they need to make sound international financial decisions. The course is organized around three topics: derivatives, behavioral finance and international financial management.

1st semester - 6 ECTS

In the part Finanial Reporting

  • we refresh basic accounting techniques (a.o. balance sheet equation) and the preparation of annual financial statements;
  • we obtain an understanding of the environment in which financial reporting takes place - how it is regulated; 
  • we acquire skills in how financial statements are analysed and interpreted (a.o. time series and cross-sectional analysis, accounting ratios, statement of cash flows, ROI decomposition);
  • we provide the basics of how consolidation is done and how a cash flow statement is prepared; 
  • we gain an understanding into earnings management and creative accounting;
In the part Auditing (of financial statements):  
  • we obtain an understanding of the basic audit framework, audit quality and the inherent limitations of auditing;
  • we analyse the audit risk model (inherent risk, control risk, detection risk, materiality);
  • we analyse the types of audit opinion expressed in the auditor's report. 

The course does not situate itself in an individual national context. It uses International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as its basis for Financial Reporting and International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) as its basis for Audting.

1st semester - 6 ECTS

In the course it is analysed how the result of a business profit is determined by its strategy and environment. Special attention is drawn to strategy analysis and formulation. Two levels are distinguished: concern/corporate and competitive strategy. Concern strategy determines in which industries the business should invest and competition strategy tells how a business can position itself in a segment and how it can reach and maintain a competitive advantage. There is also attention in the course for the link between strategy and the specific business environment.

During the course, economic and strategic instruments and methods are discussed which are useful for the analysis of the competitive situation. Examples are given during the lectures and short cases are solved. Theoretical concepts are developed which are important for strategy building.

2nd semester - 6 ECTS

This course confronts the student with the different strategic and managerial issues, challenges, opportunities and decisions to be made by corporations and organisations with regards to the development and use of information systems (IS) and information technology (IT). The course as well aims to provide the students with a set of conceptual tools and approaches (models, methodologies, frameworks, etc.) to handle all these different aspects.

Starting from a general definition of a business model, the impact of IS on business models and strategy is discussed, as well as ways to rethink business processes using IT, for instance by adopting a service-oriented business architecture. Moreover, IT/IS governance and enterprise architecture frameworks are being introduced as a means to improve business-IT alignment, and maturity level measurement as a means to assess an organization’s abilities and skill in aligning and executing strategic IT projects.

The course also covers topics related to IS governance, service and project management, as well as different topics related to knowledge management and business intelligence, and technological concepts like cloud computing and API first approaches.

1st and 2nd semester - 6 ECTS

The main task for students is to write a paper in preparation of their Master thesis.  The paper is written under the direction of the future promoter of the Master thesis. A number of introductory sessions will be given by the holder of the course.  These sessions will (1) explain the goals of the paper and the Master thesis, (2) give an overview of the electronic databases that are available, (3) explain how students should draft a list of references and refer to the literature consulted, and (4) give tips on writing a paper and a dissertation.

2nd semester - 6 ECTS

The course examines the most important topics of competition policy from an economic, but also interdisciplinary perspective. It covers collusion, horizontal and vertical anticompetitive agreements as well as abuse of dominance, merger policy and state aid control. Next to reviewing the most important rules and policy documents, we build a framework for understanding firm behaviour in imperfectly competitive markets as well as its welfare implications. Next to theoretical frameworks, all topics are studied by means of real cases

1st semester - 6 ECTS

The aim of International Business Law is to provide students with a general introduction to the basics of international business law, with a particular emphasis on rules and concepts of international and private law from a transactional perspective. Through this course, students will become increasingly aware of the influence and importance of law in their future business transactions and dealings, particularly in the international context.

1st semester - 6 ECTS

The rules established by the European Union (EU) constitute the fundamental framework for doing business in Europe. In this context, this course guides Master students with a specialization in Management Science through the EU’s decision-making processes and legal principles that underpin the EU’s main economic policies.

The approach to the course is multidisciplinary. Insights from history, economics, law and politics are indispensible to gain an understanding of the evolution of the European construction and its importance for business in Europe today. During each class, relevant current events shall be highlighted and discussed.

Throughout the course, an active use will be made of the EU's primary law (i.e. EU Treaties) and secondary law (i.e. EU regulations, directives and decisions). Students shall be guided through such texts with a view of gaining the ability to read and interpret them independently.

1st semester - 6 ECTS

No business can survive without customers, so insights into how we can create, deliver, communicate and monitor customer value is quintessential in an advanced marketing course. Topics that this course deals with are (not exhaustively), the following: The nature of marketing & science; Marketing strategies, plans & models; Capturing marketing insights; Creating customer value; Delivering customer value; Communicating customer value; Appropriating customor value. Current topics in the (academic) field of marketing will be addressed on a regular basis and hands-on methods for marketing managers and decision makers will be provided.

Module 2

In the second year, you can personalise your curriculum by picking electives. If you want to turn theory into practice, you can combine an internship at a multinational company with the more theoretical part of your curriculum. You find an overview of electives and course content on this website.

1st semester - 6 ECTS

The aim of this course is to familiarize students with the workings of international economics in the practice of everyday business, policy and politics through the guided study of a current topic in international economics. In particular, we are going to analyse the problem of economic adjustment in firms and households in a multi-national context like the EU. The classes will consist of a mixture of standard lectures on the economic theory, hearings by keynote speakers, and exercise classes for group-work. The content of the course will focus on the role of addressing the Financial Crisis in Europe.

2nd semester - 6 ECTS

In the first part, the main building blocks of a unifying framework are introduced. This framework should allow students to grasp the essence, in strategy terms, of what happens in a complex international business setting. The framework also suggests the way forward, so as to improve MNE performance in terms of value creation and satisfying stakeholder goals across borders. 
In the second part, we revisit the best international business articles published in prestigious publications such as the Harvard Business Review, the Sloan Management Review and California Management Review since the 1980’s. During the lectures in the second part, up to 30 case studies are discussed to confront students with practical applications. Also, findings from the relevant academic literature are introduced to ensure that students are exposed to a broad spectrum of strategic management insights, from highly theoretical to highly practical.

1st and 2nd semester - 18 ECTS

The Master Thesis is the work by which you complete the master’s program. With the Master Thesis the student demonstrates analytical and synthetic skills or an independent problem-solving capacity on an academic level. The work reflects the general critical-reflective mindset or the research mentality of the student. The Master Thesis treats a topic that is related to one of the subareas that are addressed within the master’s program.

2nd semester - 6 ECTS

The objective of this course is to explain how corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be integrated in business models. Such integration is quite challenging, and hence we elaborate on the variety of challenges. At the same time, CSR can have a positive impact on the business, which we do also discuss. Overall, CSR integration in business models requires various areas of understanding.

You have to select 24 ECTS of electives. The options are:

  • Internship (6 ECTS or 12 ECTS)
  • Global Banking
  • EU Competition Policy
  • International Corporate Finance
  • Advances Accounting and International Financial Statements
  • Microeconomics of Competitiveness (12 ECTS)
  • Trade Mission
  • IT Modeling and Economics
  • Fundamentals of Data Science
  • Project Management
  • Decision Analytics
  • Risk Management
  • Supply Chain Management

Internship options

As practical experience is becoming increasingly important when looking for a job, the International Business programme offers students the opportunity to take an internship. Students can choose an internship of 6 ECTS (20 full time workdays) or 12 ECTS (40 full time work days), but there is no maximum duration. It can take place at any time during the academic year, though we prefer you to do it during the summer. The International Business programme has connections with companies like Coca-Cola, IBM, Daikin, BNP Paribas, KPMG and PwC. In addition, students can apply for internships at the European Commission and the European Parliament – both in Brussels. As international experience can boost your cv, VUB allows – and even encourages – international internships.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes describe the intended knowledge and understanding, skills and attitudes that you must master after completing your studies. Do you want to know more about the specific learning outcomes of this programme? Click here for more information.

Can you join this programme?

Discover the admissions criteria

Application deadline for non-EEA students (who need a student visa)


Application deadline for EEA students (and holders of a valid EEA permit)


Academic requirements


Candidates with a Flemish university degree of ‘Bachelor of Science in de Toegepaste Economische Wetenschappen’, ‘Bachelor of Science: Handelsingenieur’ and ‘Bachelor TEW: bedrijfskunde’ or with the VUB degree of ‘Bachelor of Business Economics’ are directly admitted to the Master of International Business. Deadline to enroll is 8 October.


We target students with already a profound study background in business/management/economics with above average study results. Entry is competitive. Candidates with a university bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in a field related to business/management or economics who have obtained the minimum number of (European) credits in each of these subjects (a total of 96) may be admitted after a review of their application by the faculty admissions board:

  • Law (6 ECTS) 
  • Business/Management (24 ECTS)
  • Economics (15 ECTS)
  • Quantitative methods (24 ECTS)

This list is not absolute; if you lack some credits you still could be found eligible to join this master. The only way to find out is to submit your application!

Language requirements

There are three ways to prove your proficiency:

Option 1: send us one of the following language certificates proving your CEFR B2 level

  • TOEFL (only the internet-based test is accepted): minimum level: 79
  • IELTS: minimum level academic module 6.5
  • Cambridge English: CAE grade B or CPE grade C (equivalent to the CEFR B2)
  • ITACE: minimum grade B2

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware that students may face difficulties to take a test in person. Please note that we also accept the TOEFL IBT Special Home Edition and the IELTS Indicator. These are variants of the classic TOEFL and IELTS tests that you may take at home.

Please note that language test results cannot be older than 5 years at the moment of application.

Option 2: having successfully completed secondary or higher education with English as language of instruction:

  • submit official proof of the language of instruction of your previous study;

Option 3: having successfully completed Belgian secondary education

  • submit official proof that you completed a study in the Belgian educational system
Deliver all required documents before the deadline

Online application procedure

If you feel you meet both the academic requirements and the language requirements, you best start the online application procedure to find out if you're accepted to join this programme.

The following documents are required to upload during the online application procedure to start the screening process:

  • Proof of identity (Passport or ID-card)
  • Profile picture (ends on your student card)
  • All higher education degrees (official documents, both original and translations)
  • All higher education transcripts of records (official documents, both original and translations)
  • Motivational letter
  • 2 recommendation letters
  • Proof of English language proficiency

The screening process takes up to several weeks. Submit your file as soon (and complete) as possible.

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After graduation

A master degree opens doors in many different branches and sectors. You will be able to work in the private sector, (non-) governmental organisations, or continue your academic career as a PhD researcher. Not sure what your next step should be? The VUB helps you with your first steps on the job market.

Colin Raico Kuehnhanss, Alumnus MSc in International Business

"The MSc in International Business is a very broad programme. It is well suited for those who do not want to specialise in any particular field but want to get an overview of multiple disciplines relevant to the management of a company. The large scope also makes it a very challenging Masters degree. It offers very diverse courses ranging from “soft” social sciences such as organisational behaviour and leadership to the mathematical side as needed in finance or economics based modules. This range requires not only the training of purely analytical skills but also the engagement with psychological concepts and organisational linkages. It thus provides a good preparation for the many different issues you will later have to face in business life.

The possibility to include practical training in the form of an internship in the degree makes it even more attractive. It gives the possibility to apply and test the theoretical foundation obtained in the classroom immediately while giving the CV an extra boost.  The large weight of the thesis and the chance to devise and pursue a research question for almost one-and-a-half years is a great way to learn how to do research and work to academic standards.

Overall I have enjoyed the two years very much. The international composition of the class and the setting in Brussels give the programme a very particular flair. While life in Belgium may take some time to getting used to, the presence of a vibrant international community, the EU institutions, and lots of cultural activities in Brussels make it very difficult to get bored."




The VUB helps you to make your first step in the job market with workshops, networking events, job fairs, tips ‘n tricks for job interviews. All an ambitious student needs!

First step in the market


If you want to continue your academic career, you can apply for a PhD position at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. All you need is a promoter, research subject and sufficient funding. Are you up for this challenge?

More info