1 programme, 2 universities

Discover our new Master of Science in Photonics Engineering*, a programme that leads to a joint degree from VUB and UGent!

Bridging physics, engineering and photonics

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The Master of Science in Photonics Engineering* is an English-taught 2-year master programme (120 ECTS) that leads to a joint degree from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University. We offer students a challenging engineering programme that combines core photonics courses with a whole range of photonics electives and multidisciplinary modules, e.g. Electronics and Information Technology, Physics and Materials, Business Engineering, Modelling, Measurement and Control and Life Sciences.

This multidisciplinary approach combined with high-level training in labs and a strong international component has proven to boost the employment prospects of our graduates to a maximum in innovative industries and research domains such as biotechnology, health care, green energy, ICT and Industry 4.0.

Standard study plan

The Master of Science In Photonics Engineering programme is a 2-year interuniversity English taught master programme organised jointly by Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University.*

The programme offers a fully residential on-campus track and a semi-online track. In the residential on-campus track, students spend both master year 1 and master year 2 on-campus. In master year 1, students take core photonics courses in semester 1 & 2 at VUB or UGent, supplemented by a number of advanced photonics electives.

In master year 2 students can design their own programme combining:
- Advanced photonics courses at VUB, UGent or partner universities
- Multidisciplinary modules at VUB, UGent or partner universities
- Strong international components for the master dissertation or research exchange,
- Opportunities for (international) internships at research institutes or industry.

For their second year, students can continue their studies at VUB or UGent or they can go for an Erasmus Exchange at one of our partner institutions for a semester or a full your year to take courses and/or write their master thesis.

VUB and UGent work closely with top partner universities worldwide. Students can design their personal exchange programme aligned with their focus and interests.

In the online track, students follow master year 1 fully online. For master year 2 they come to VUB or UGent.

VUB Photonics Campus

Have a look at our Photonics Innovation Center: the VUB Photonics Campus

Want to know more about studying at the Faculty of Engineering?

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Any questions?

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Visum-required applicants: deadline 01 April 2022

Apply now!

Educational Quality

Here at VUB we put great care and effort in the quality of our education. Transparency is key. Information on the educational quality of each programme is public, e.g. describing its strengths and actions.

Public info on the quality of the programme

The world is at your feet

When you study photonics at VUB, in the beating heart of Europe, you will not just join a team of international students and researchers.

You will be trained by professors and professionals with an impressive track record in optics and photonics. The B-PHOT research group has over 30 years of experience in photonics research and its applications. A team of 60 researchers will submerge you in the fascinating world of light and show you how Photonics affects all fields of endeavor: internet, smartphone, road traffic, aviation, food safety, disease diagnosis, ... .

You will also have the opportunity to study courses and/or do your master dissertation at one of our preferred partner universities, get real-life work experience by doing an international internship in a research institute or photonics company, attend conferences and visit major photonics companies.

Dr. Volodymyr Koman (Ukraine), Alumnus European MSc in Photonics, Strano Research Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

“ There has been light from the beginning. But we hardly measure the importance of light in our daily lives. Light is nowadays used for everything from internet cables to low cost light sources. However, this is just a beginning and we have many more exciting discoveries to make and applications to invent. I have understood this as I was studying photonics at VUB in the framework of the Master programme (Erasmus Mundus, at that time). As students, we were exposed to interdisciplinary curricula on how light aids in and interacts with various other disciplines. We also witnessed a number of close collaborations with various industries, which gave us a unique opportunity to understand how photonic inventions make their way to market. The gained knowledge helped and steered me tremendously as I continued on developing photonic sensors for biosystems during my PhD at EPFL and now inventing optoelectronic micromachines as a PostDoc at MIT. I can't stress enough how innovative and visionary this programme is.

Study credits

ECTS (European Credit Transfer System): 1 credit represents 25-30 hours of study activity

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.

Applications are now open!

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Next to the residential programme The Master of Science in Photonics Engineering also offers a semi-online track*:
- master year 1 (semester 1/2)  online
- master year 2 (semester 3/4) on-campus (Brussels or Ghent)

The application process remains the same: go to the Application page, submit your file and mention you are interested in the online track! If you have any questions about the programme, the different options, don’t hesitate to contact us!

International Mobility

Going abroad may be a life-changing experience. The chance to spend time in different cities inside and outside of Europe brings students in touch with different cultures, different languages and a wide variety of workplace environments.

The Msc in Photonics Engineering gives you the opportunity to implement a strong international component in your programme. In master year two you can choose to [1] follow courses or do your [2] master dissertation at one of our preferred partner universities. Alternatively, you can do an [3] international internship of 10-12 weeks.

Ayman MORSY (Egypt), Class of 2018-2020

" Being a student at VUB opens doors to a wide range of opportunities to grow and excel in the field of photonics.
The programme is designed to prepare you for an academic and professional career through internships, business seminars, student networks and mobility tracks. In particular, my internship in Finland has helped me develop my skill set, engage in new cultures and expand my international network.

Furthermore, as a student I was involved in the activities of BEST (Board of European Students of Technology) where I learned how to interact and deal with companies, develop my soft skills and meet other technology students from all over the world.”

Mobility Tracks

  • Courses @ partner institution: in semester 3 you can choose to study a course package (30 ECTS) abroad under the Erasmus+ Exchange umbrella
  • Masterthesis @ partner institution: in semester 4 you can choose to do your master thesis (30 ECTS) at one of our partner institutions under the Erasmus+ Exchange umbrella
  • International Internship in Photonics (10 ECTS): the International Internship in Photonics focuses on the industrial and/or research engineering training of the student. You spend a period of at least 10 weeks to 12 weeks (preferably during the summer holidays) in a company or research institute outside of Belgium as a trainee with the objective of gaining practical experience in an international context

Kadir in Lund, Sweden for his Erasmus+ Exchange.

Applications are now open!

Apply here!

At VUB the B-PHOT Student Chapter works closely with B-PHOT Brussels Photonics research group for events where students, professors and alumni mix and mingle. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is a not-for-profit educational society organized to advance emerging light-based technologies. B-PHOT Student Chapter has the largest student members in Europe organizing events and supporting actively in outreach from B-PHOT such as the yearly Science Show attracting over 1000 students, which was also performed for the first UNESCO International Day of Light

Several events are organised making it easy to become part of the photonics community: 

  • Light Nights: mixing professional flavor with a touch of social networking, this event brings together master students, professors, researchers and alumni in an informal way
  • Photonics Event: connecting companies, students and researchers. Innovative companies specialized in photonics meet up with students and researchers, through workshops and hands-on experiments.
  • Photonics Summer Symposium:  at the end of each academic year, this 2-day event in June welcomes all master students. Students of the second year present their master thesis for a jury of experts and for all master students. International speakers join for inspiring lectures and there are also social activities such as a BBQ, quiz, …


What about after-student life? Job time!

The Master of Science in Photonics Engineering has all the right ingredients to prepare you for a bright future. We are proud to say that all our graduates find a relevant job within a few months timeframe at most, some in their own country and some building an international career. 100% employability is what we go for.

As consultant, engineer or researcher you might find yourself in the driver seat working domains as life sciences, biotechnology, telecommunications, sustainable energy, agrifood or Industry 4.0. Next to an inspiring job in the industry, you might also have an interest in a research career at an academic research group and become a professor yourself.

Have a look at SPIE career center, where you can find an overview of available jobs, employer type, different domains and functions. But first... graduate! 


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?

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Deadline visum-required applicants: 1 April 2022!

Apply here!

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Application info

Once you have decided the Master of Science in Photonics Engineering is the ultimate programme for you, it is certainly important to follow the next steps for application.

  • candidates who require a VISA: 1 April 2022
  • candidates who don’t require a VISA: 1 September 2022 at VUB
  • students with a Belgian Bachelor should register before: October 2022

The general tuition fee for our master programme is €961.90/year*. A detailed overview of the tuition fees can be found here. The tuition fee includes full tuition (full course/lab access + exam participation), a student card and full access to the university and faculty infrastructure as a student (library, restaurant, online tools, etc.).

*subject to indexation

Degree requirements:

1. for international students

  • bachelor or master degree in (Applied) Physics/Electrical Engineering/Materials Science
  • bachelor or master degree in another scientific field will also be considered based on pre-knowledge

2. for belgian degree holders

  • bachelor or master degree in (Applied) Physics/Electrical Engineering/Materials Science have direct access
  • bachelor or master degree in Architecture, Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, industrial Science - Electronics/ICT, Engineering Science or KMS Polytechnical Department can apply for the preparatory programme of 30 ECTS

Language requirements:

  • A diploma of secondary education awarded by the Flemish, French-speaking of German-speaking community 
  • A diploma of secondary or higher education with English as the language of instruction (please provide proof of this)
  • TOEFL IBT (or TOEFL IBT Home Edition) with minimum level: 79 (Institution code 6740)
  • IELTS (or IELTS Indicator) with minimum overall score: 6.5
  • ITACE with minimum level: B2
  • Cambridge English Qualification Scale with the following minimal level: 170

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

It is mandatory that the language requirements are met before you are accepted at the VUB. We do not issue letters of acceptance without it.

VUB Scholarships for Master of Science in Photonics Engineering */**

Each year the Vrije Universiteit Brussels grants several full scholarships of 10.000,- EUR/academic year for the Master of Science in Photonics Engineering programme based on excellence. Every international student applying at VUB is eligible for these scholarships, no separate procedure must be followed.

All candidates applying at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel will have the opportunity to show proof of their technical knowledge during a scholarship interview preceding the final admission.

VUB B-PHOT Excellence Scholarships*/**

B-PHOT, the Brussels Photonics Research group at VUB, also offer scholarships to excellent students on a competitive basis. All students who register for the MSc. in Photonics Engineering at VUB are eligible to be awarded a B-PHOT Excellence Scholarship of 5.000,- EUR/academic year by the research group without a separate application procedure.

The scholarships will be awarded by the VUB programme board.

*All candidates who receive the VUB Scholarship or the B-PHOT Excellence Scholarship must commit themselves to do a master thesis at VUB

**None of these scholarships can be granted in combination with any other scholarship (with the exception of the Erasmus+ mobility grants)

Before you hit that 'Apply now' button make sure you have all the required documents (in.pdf) ready for upload, only complete applications will be reviewed! 


  • clear copy of ID
  • CV
  • motivation letter
  • 2 recommendation letters
  • official bachelor degree or official certificate of graduation
  • complete and official transcript of records BSc
  • official master degree or official certificate of graduation
  • complete and official transcript of records MSc
  • official language certificate
  • complete overview of bachelor courses content description

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Applications are open, start here!

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