Erasmus Mundus Joint Master in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (Leuven et al)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The word Nanoscience refers to the study, manipulation, and engineering of matter, particles, and structures on the nanometer scale. Nanotechnology is the application of nanoscience leading to the use of new nanomaterials and nanosize components in useful products.

KU Leuven offers this joint Erasmus Mundus Master together with universities in Barcelona (Spain), Chalmers (Sweden), Grenoble (France) and Dresden (Germany).

What’s the Erasmus Mundus Master of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology all about?

Within the Erasmus Mundus framework, four leading educational institutions in Europe offer a joint Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. The partner institutions are:

  • KU Leuven, Belgium (Coordinator)
  • Universitat Barcelona, Spain
  • Chalmers, Tekniska Högskola, Sweden
  • Université Grenoble Alpes, France
  • Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

The word Nanoscience refers to the study, manipulation, and engineering of matter, particles, and structures on the nanometer scale (one-millionth of a millimeter, the scale of atoms and molecules). Important properties of materials, such as the electrical, optical, thermal and mechanical properties, are determined by the way molecules and atoms assemble on the nanoscale into larger structures. Moreover, on a nanometer scale, structures’ properties are often different than on a macro scale because quantum mechanical effects become important.

Nanotechnology is the application of nanoscience leading to the use of new nanomaterials and nanosize components in useful products. Nanotechnology will eventually provide us with the ability to design custom-made materials and products with new enhanced properties, new nanoelectronic components, new types of ‘smart’ medicines and sensors, and even interfaces between electronics and biological systems.


In the first stage of the program all students study at the coordinating institution, where they take a set of fundamental courses (max 12 credits) to give them a common starting basis, general interest courses (6-9 credits), a compulsory common block of core courses (36 credits), and already a profiling block of elective courses (min 6 credits) which prepares them for their specialisation area. In the second stage, the students take a compulsory set of specializing courses (15 credits), depending on their chosen specialization area, combined with a set of elective broadening courses (15 credits), and do their Master’s thesis research project (30 credits). Chalmers offers the second year specialization options of Nanophysics and Nanoelectronics. TU Dresden offers the options Biophysics and Nanoelectronics, and Université Grenoble Alpes offers the options Nanophysics, Nanochemistry, and Nanobiotechnology.

The program contains the following educational modules:

  1. The fundamental courses (max. 12 credits) introduce the students to relevant disciplines in which they have had no or little training during their Bachelor’s. If a student does not need any or all of the fundamental courses, he/she may use the remaining credits to take more elective courses from the broadening course modules.
  2. The general interest courses (6-9 credits) are imparting non-technical skills to the students, in domains such as management, economics, languages, quality management, ethics, psychology, etc. A Dutch language and culture course is compulsory for all the students.
  3. The core courses (36 credits) contain first of all five compulsory courses focusing on the thorough basic education within the main disciplines of the Master: nanophysics, nanochemistry, nanoelectronics, and nano-biochemistry. All students also have to take one out of two available practical courses where they learn to carry out some practical experimental work, which takes places in small teams. Also part of the Core courses is the Lecture Series on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, which is a series of seminars (14-18 per year) on various topics related to nanoscience and nanotechnology, given by national and international guest speakers.
  4. The specific courses (min. 21 credits) are courses of the specializing option aimed to deepen the student’s competencies. The students can choose 6-18 credits elective profiling program units in the first year at the KU Leuven from three course modules. Then in the second year university, the students take 15 credits compulsory courses at their second year location on their selected specialization. They can also choose to do an industrial internship on a nanoscience or nanotechnology-related topic at a nanotechnology company or research institute.
  5. The broadening courses (15 credits) are courses from the other options of the Master’s program, which allow the students to broaden their scope beyond the chosen specialization. Students can choose from a large set of program units offered at the second year university.
  6. The Master’s thesis (30 credits) is intended to bring the students in close and active contact with a multidisciplinary research environment. The research project always takes place at the second year partner university and is finalized with a written thesis report and a public presentation. Each Master’s thesis has a promoter from the local university and a promotor from KU Leuven.

The EMM-Nano program is truly integrated, with a strong research backbone and an important international scope. The objective of the program is to provide a top quality multidisciplinary education in nanoscience and nanotechnology.


  • The program is strongly research-oriented and is largely based on research of centers such as i.m.e.c. in Belgium, CEA-LETI in France and Leibniz Institute for Solid State Materials Research in Germany. These institutions are worldwide research leaders in nanoscience and nanotechnology and provide access to world-class infrastructure for nanotechnology research and development as well as opportunities for graduating students to continue their studies with a Ph.D. They are associated partners in the consortium. This strong link between education and research ensures a contemporary program at the cutting edge of state-of-the-art research.
  • A limited number of scholarships for both European and non-European students are funded by the European Commission. There are scholarships funded by the EU-Commission for non-EEA students whereas the consortium funds a limited number of its own grants. The number of grants and the amount of the grant is decided on an annual basis.
  • The program is strongly connected to the latest innovations in the field. The courses are continuously updated following the progress of science and technology in this young and highly innovative field. Furthermore, students will spend one-quarter of the study program elaborating their own research project in the context of their Master’s thesis. There is ample opportunity to take elective courses, either to increase their level of proficiency or to broaden their horizon, according to their own interest.
  • The intended program outcomes are clearly stated and are also clearly achieved according to students' feedback.
  • The program offers a broad education covering all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology where the students are acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes, with on one hand a strong horizontal multidisciplinary core education, in the various underlying disciplines, and on the other hand a more vertical specialisation in one specific subfield of nanoscience and nanotechnology. All this is realized in a program with a strong international dimension. The program is well structured with choice of several subdisciplines as specialization options which allow for individual tuning of the students' study program to their individual interest. Course content builds on one another throughout the program.
  • The program sufficiently refers to specific current situations and relevant problems and can be considered as state-of-the-art. It gives a broad multidisciplinary education with sufficient attention to a theoretical foundation. Each year a number of company visits is organized in the second semester to expose students to the type of companies in which they can find jobs (Holst Centre, Melexis, Europlasma, Solvay, On Semiconductor, ASML, etc.)
  • The Erasmus Mundus label gives prestige to the program, and promotes European education and research; it allows attracting the best students from all over the world (brain magnet), gives a strong international dimension to both the Erasmus Mundus and the local Master’s programs and guarantees that the education closely follows the internationally leading research of the contributing universities.
  • The expertise of the professors and assistants is an asset of the program. The research infrastructure and the contributing faculties are state-of-the-art. The link, both in teaching and in research, to a world-renowned research organization in the field of Nanotechnology such as i.m.e.c., adds to the uniqueness of the programs. According to the students' feedback, they perceive it as positive that the program challenges them to work hard during their studies.
  • Students think that there is a very broad variation and a wide choice of Master’s thesis topics offered and that the guidance during the development of the Master’s thesis is good.

Application deadline for 2018-2019

  • 31 January 2018 (for non-EEA citizens)
  • 1 June 2018 (for EEA citizens)

KU Leuven uses an online application system. You can download and submit your application form via Students with a Flemish degree can consult

Tuition Fee

For more information about our tuition fees, please visit

Is this the right program for me?

You have strong analytic, synthetic and interpretive capabilities and a clear interest in both fundamental sciences as well as technological problems. You should be able to understand a large variety of problems and to translate them into an abstract academic level, to crosslink knowledge from a variety of scientific disciplines, to form a personal and independent opinion and to transmit it to others. You should show a strong interest in scientific and/or technological problems, be interested in how and why systems function and have a clear sense of the societal and psychological relevance of technology and its implications upon society.

From your Bachelor's education, you should have acquired a basic knowledge of mathematics (including advanced algebra and differential equations), physics, chemistry, and electronics. If you are missing some of this background, introductory fundamental courses are offered to acquire this knowledge within the Master's program. Knowledge of cell biology and biochemistry, molecular and atomic architecture, materials science and electromagnetism are considered as an asset. Moreover, you are able to demonstrate excellence in your previous study results, as well as sufficient knowledge of English.

In general, you have a capacity to think in a mathematical-analytical way and have a strong interest in technology. You are fascinated by the relationship between science and technology, are eager and prepared to learn autonomously, are willing to work hard and show perseverance, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

The program aims at forming engineers who are able to design novel materials, devices, circuits, processes and products that are based on the novel and special properties that are active at a nanometer scale. The application areas are very broad going from nanoelectronics to bionanotechnological applications. Key in the education is its multidisciplinary character, and one of the aims of the program is to enable students to cross the boundaries of various technical disciplines and create novel applications and products at the interface between these disciplines.

Career Paths

In the coming decades, nanoscience and nanotechnology will undoubtedly become the driving force for a new set of products, systems, and applications. These disciplines are even expected to form the basis for a new industrial revolution.

Within a few years, nanoscience applications are expected to impact virtually every technological sector and ultimately many aspects of our daily life. In the coming five-to-ten years, many new products and companies will emerge based on nanotechnology and nanosciences. These new products will stem from the knowledge developed at the interface of the various scientific disciplines offered in the EMM-Nano program.

Thus, EMM-Nano graduates will find a wealth of career opportunities in the sectors and industries developing these new technologies: electronics, new and smart materials, chemical technology, biotechnology, R&D, independent consultancies and more. Graduates have an ideal background to become the invaluable interface between these areas and will be able to apply their broad perspective on nanoscience and nanotechnology to the development and creation of new products and even new companies.


The level defining descriptors of a master's program, leading to the degree of master, as mentioned in article II.141 of the Code Higher Education and in article 6 of the decree of 30 April 2009 regarding the Flemish qualification structure:

a) general competencies at an advanced level such as the ability to reason and act in an academic manner, the ability to handle complex problems, the ability to reflect on one's own thoughts and work, and the ability to convert this reflection into the development of more effective solutions, the ability to communicate one's own research and solutions to professional colleagues and laymen, and the ability to develop an opinion in an uncertain context;

b) general academic competences at an advanced level such as the ability to apply research methods and techniques, the ability to design research, the ability to apply paradigms in the domain of the sciences or the arts and the ability to indicate the limits of paradigms, originality and creativity regarding the continuously expanding body of knowledge and insight, and the ability to collaborate in a multidisciplinary environment;

c) advanced understanding and insight in scientific, discipline-specific knowledge inherent to a certain domain of the sciences or the arts, insight in the most recent knowledge in the subject/discipline or parts of it, the ability to follow and interpret the direction in which theory formation is developing, the ability to make an original contribution towards the body of knowledge of one or several parts of the subject/discipline, and display specific competencies characteristic for the subject/discipline such as designing, researching, analyzing and diagnosing;

d) the competencies needed for either independent research or the independent practice of the arts at the level of a newly- qualified researcher (in the arts), or the general and specific professional competencies needed for independent application of academic or artistic knowledge at the level of a newly-qualified professional.

A master's program is concluded by a master's thesis of which the workload, expressed in credits, amounts to at least one-fifth of the total number of credits in the program of study, and consists of at least fifteen credits and at most thirty credits.


The Master of Science (120 credits) is awarded after the student has completed the courses required to gain 120 credits with a defined specialization determined by the higher education institutions. The student obtains the joint Master diploma if he/she has obtained a minimum 120 credits in total and minimum of 54 credits at each of both universities where he/she is following the program.


Knowledge and understanding

For a Master of Science (120 credits) the student shall have:

  • demonstrated knowledge and understanding in the main field of study, including both broad knowledge of the field and a considerable degree of specialized knowledge in certain areas of the field as well as insight into current research and development work, and
  • demonstrated specialized methodological knowledge in the main field of study.

Competence and skills

For a Master of Science (120 credits) the student shall have:

  • demonstrated the ability to critically and systematically integrate knowledge and analyze, assess and deal with complex phenomena, issues, and situations even with limited information
  • demonstrated the ability to identify and formulate issues critically, autonomously and creatively as well as to plan and, using appropriate methods, undertake advanced tasks within predetermined time frames and so contribute to the formation of knowledge as well as the ability to evaluate this work
  • demonstrated the ability in speech and writing both nationally and internationally to report clearly and discuss his or her conclusions and the knowledge and arguments on which they are based on dialogue with different audiences, and
  • demonstrated the skills required for participation in research and development work or autonomous employment in some other qualified capacity.

Judgment and approach

For a Master of Science (120 credits) the student shall have:

  • demonstrated the ability to make assessments in the main field of study informed by relevant disciplinary, social and ethical issues and also to demonstrate awareness of ethical aspects of research and development work
  • demonstrated insight into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual for how it is used, and
  • demonstrated the ability to identify the personal need for further knowledge and take responsibility for his or her ongoing learning.

Independent project

A requirement for the award of a Master of Science (120 credits) is completion by the student of an independent project for at least 30 credits in the main field of study.

Aims and attainment targets of the master program Nanoscience and nanotechnology:

The overall objective of the program is to provide every student with both a broad common multidisciplinary basis and a personalized top-level specialization in a certain area of nanoscience or nanotechnology.

By the end of the program, you will possess:

  • thorough knowledge of the general principles of physics, chemistry, electronics and biology that play a role on the nanometer scale;
  • insight into the materials, fabrication and other experimental techniques that can be used on the nanoscale, as well as their limitations;
  • understanding of the formation of complex macro systems which are unique in their operations and possess new functionalities;
  • in-depth knowledge of at least one specialization area within the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology;
  • proficiency in translating this knowledge into useful technological applications;
  • extensive analytic and synthetic problem-solving capacities;
  • sufficient scientific background to undertake research.

Upon the completion of the two-year cycle, successful students will be awarded a joint Master's degree. In addition, the EMM-Nano consortium furnishes a joint degree supplement providing a description of the nature and level of the program followed.

Further Studies

When allowed:

  • Master of Welding Engineering (Sint-Katelijne-Waver)
Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked ... Read More

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked among the top 100 in the world. Read less
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