Master of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering (Leuven)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

This master’s program combines the basics of physics, biology, and chemistry at the nanometer scale with courses on technology and engineering. The program fits into the growing worldwide convergence between the basic sciences and between science, technology and engineering sciences in general. Nanotechnology and nanoengineering are the application of this science in new nanomaterials and nano concepts for new components, systems, and products.

What's the Master of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, and Nanoengineering all about?

Nanoscience is the study of phenomena and manipulation on the atomic and molecular scales (nanometers: i.e., one billionth of a meter). Important material properties such as the electrical, optical and mechanical are determined by the way molecules and atoms assemble into larger structures on the nanoscale.

Nanotechnology is the application of this science in new nanomaterials and nano-concepts to create new components, systems, and products. Nanotechnology is the key to unlocking the ability to design custom-made materials which possess any property we require. These newborn scientific disciplines are situated at the interface of physics, chemistry, material science, microelectronics, biochemistry, and biotechnology. Consequently, control of the discipline requires an academic and multidisciplinary scientific education.

In the Master of Science in Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, and Nanoengineering, you will learn the basics of physics, biology, and chemistry on the nanometer scale; these courses will be complemented by courses in technology and engineering to ensure practical know-how. The program is strongly research-oriented and is largely based on the research of centers like i.m.e.c. (Interuniversity Microelectronics Center), the Leuven Nanocenter and INPAC (Institute for Nanoscale Physics and Chemistry) at the Faculty of Science, all global research leaders in nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering. In your Master’s thesis, you will have the opportunity to work in the exciting research programs of these institutes.

The objective of the Master of Science in Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, and Nanoengineering is to provide top quality multidisciplinary tertiary education in nanoscience as well as in the use of nanotechnologies for systems and sensors on the macro-scale.


Students follow a set of introductory courses to give them a common starting basis, a compulsory common block of core program courses to give them the necessary multidisciplinary background of nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering, and a selection of program courses to provide some non-technical skills. The students also select their specialization option for which they choose a set of compulsory specific program courses, a number of elective broadening program courses and do their Master’s thesis research project.

  1. The fundamental courses (max 15 credits, 6 courses) introduce the students to relevant disciplines in which they have had no or little training during their Bachelor’s education. These are necessary in order to prepare students from different backgrounds for the core program courses and the specialization program courses of the Master.
  2. The general interest courses (9-12 credits) are imparting non-technical skills to the students in domains such as management, economics, languages, quality management, ethics, psychology, etc.
  3. The core courses (39 credits, 8 courses) contain first of all 6 compulsory courses focusing on the thorough basic education within the main disciplines of the Master’s: nanophysics, nanochemistry, nanoelectronics, and nanobiochemistry. These core program courses deliver the basic competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) to prepare the students for their specialization in one of the subdisciplines of the Master. Next, all students also have to follow one out of two available practical courses where they learn to carry out some practical experimental work, which takes place in small teams. Also part of the core courses is the Lecture Series on Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, and Nanoengineering, which is a series of seminars (14-18 per year) on various topics related to nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering, given by national and international guest speakers.
  4. The specific courses (21 credits) are compulsory program courses with the specialization option. These program courses are deepening the student’s competencies in one of the specializing disciplines of the Master’s program and prepare them also for the thesis work.
  5. The broadening courses (9-27 credits) allow the students to choose additional program courses, either from their own or from the other options of the Master’s, which allow them to broaden their scope beyond the chosen specialization. They can also choose to do an industrial internship on a nanoscience, nanotechnology or nanoengineering related topic at a nanotechnology company or research institute.
  6. The Master’s thesis (24 credits) is intended to bring the students in close and active contact with a multidisciplinary research environment. The student is assigned a relevant research project and work in close collaboration with Ph.D. students, postdocs, and professors. The research project is spread over the two semesters of the second Master’s year and is finalized with a written Master’s thesis report, a publishable summary paper, and a public presentation.

You can also follow a similar program in the frame of an interuniversity program, the Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.


  • The program is strongly research-oriented and is largely based on the research of centers like i.m.e.c. (interuniversity microelectronics center) and INPAC (Institute for nanoscale physics and chemistry) at the Faculty of Science, which are both worldwide research leaders in nanoscience and nanotechnology. During the Master’s thesis, students will have the opportunity to work in the exciting research programs of these institutes.
  • As a graduate of the Master of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering program, you will have thorough scientific knowledge of the fundamental structures of physical, biological and chemical systems in terms of their molecular and atomic characteristics. You will also understand the formation of complex macro systems, which are unique in their operations and possess new functionalities, based on their molecular and atomic properties.
  • The objective of the Master of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, and Nanoengineering is to provide a top quality multidisciplinary education in nanoscience as well as in the use of nanotechnologies for systems and sensors at the macro-scale. The program encompasses the disciplines of the three contributing faculties: Science (Departments of Physics and Chemistry), Engineering Science: Departments of Electrical Engineering and Materials Engineering, Bioscience Engineering.
  • Some of the teaching staff are affiliated with i.m.e.c., bringing a strong nanoelectronic component to the program. The courses are taught in English. The nanosciences are multidisciplinary. Students will receive basic training in nanoscale physics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, materials science, and electronics. Special courses are designed to encourage thinking beyond the boundaries of these traditional scientific disciplines. This knowledge is complemented with courses in modern nanoelectronics and complex electronic systems, with an emphasis on the innovate role the nanosciences play in society.
  • 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 at least one-fourth of the study program elaborating their own research project in the context of a Master’s thesis. There is ample room for elective courses, either to increase students’ 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 programs offer a broad education covering all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology where the students are acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes, with on the 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 programs 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 the theoretical foundation. Each year a number of company visits are 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, 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

  • 1 March 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 a 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.
  • Non-Belgian students are required to submit proof of GPA, proof of proficiency in English (TOEFL test or equivalent) and a letter of motivation.

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 this Master's program.

Thus, 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.


1. Competent in one or more scientific disciplines

(1) Will possess a thorough knowledge of the basic underlying disciplines of nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering:

  • material physics, devices, and technologies for nanoelectronic applications and a clear view on the evolution of these applications in future
  • physics, chemistry, and biochemistry at the nanometre scale
  • electronic, optical, mechanical and thermodynamic qualities of metals, semiconductors, and insulators
  • physics and technology for building nanoelectronic and optoelectronic systems, electronic and optical interconnection technology for high speed and high pin count, packaging technology, thermal management in electronic systems and system-in-a-package
  • structure, stability, folding and conformational dynamics of nanostructured biomolecules and their industrial applications
  • chemical methods for preparing and characterizing nanostructured materials and supramolecular systems (molecular devices) and the properties of these materials and systems.
  • mesoscopic properties which appear when the size of a system becomes comparable to characteristic physical length scales, and an understanding of how mesoscopic effects can be manipulated and controlled

(2) Have specialized knowledge in one of the following domains:

  • Nanodevices and Nanophysics
  • Nanoelectronic design
  • Nanomaterials and nanochemistry
  • Bionanotechnology

(3) Graduates are able to apply knowledge from various domains and specializations in a creative way, expand it, deepen it and integrate it in functional systems

  • Will possess a thorough knowledge of the methods used in technological problem solving and design.
  • Will have an understanding of the formation of complex macro-systems which are unique in their operations and possess new functionalities.
  • Are capable of thinking and acting across the boundaries of the underlying disciplines (physics, electronics, chemistry, biology).

2. Competent in conducting research

(4) Possess the ability to systematically acquire and critically assess the scientific value and relevance of the state-of-the-art, related to nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanoengineering

(5) Possess the capability to analyze complex problems, define problem statements and formulate clearly structured research questions with the correct level of abstraction.

(6) Have the ability to assimilate existing and new concepts, methodologies and research results and apply them in an academic or industrial research environment.

3. Competent in designing

(7) Possess the expertise to use and combine the various disciplines of nanoscience and nanotechnology to formulate new research questions based on a design problem

(8) Use acquired skills and knowledge to solve design problems by developing new models, (bio-)materials, devices, integrated circuits, and systems while taking into account relevant boundary conditions

(9) Have the skill to independently take decisions related to the design, and to justify and evaluate these in a systematic manner

4. A scientific approach

(10) Graduates possess a broad analytical, integrating, and problem-solving mind and are able to combine knowledge from nanotechnology and related domains.

(11) Graduates can select and process the most suitable information sources (scientific literature, internet, workshops, conferences, experimental data, and professional networks).

(12) Evaluate, select and exploit advanced scientific models, including the system/process model and boundary conditions, with the appropriate level of complexity for the specific application.

(13) Possess the correct attitudes to continuously adapt to a knowledge-based society and to learn new technologies.

5. Basic intellectual skills

(14) Can reflect autonomously on a variety of different problems related to nanoscience and nanotechnology

(15) Graduates have a critical-constructive attitude with respect to new discoveries and developments encountered in the scientific literature and in their own research.

(16) Have the capability of developing and defending opinions about their field, based on objective argumentations

6. Competent in collaboration and communication

(17) Experience in communication, both written and orally (in Dutch and/or English) with experts and non-experts about their own research and design results

(18) Co-operate and manage projects in a (multidisciplinary) team: distribute and assume responsibilities, observe time and resource constraints, document project progress and results

7. Takes the temporal and social context into account

(19) Are able to function within a context of social, economic and environmental boundary conditions as well as in an international context

(20) Are aware of their societal, ethical and ecological responsibility and act on it.

(21) Are aware of the challenges, risks, and promises of nanotechnological developments.

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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