About this programme 

The Master of Human Settlements provides insights into the challenges and opportunities of worldwide settlements in an era of rapid change. The intensive program seeks to expose the multi-faceted challenge of contemporary human settlements, from multi-disciplinary and multi-scalar perspectives. It develops a critical and interpretative approach towards developing their own position within the field.

The Master of Human Settlements addresses rapid urbanisation in the developing world and contemporary urban transformations.  Architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture and spatial planning are the core disciplines underpinning the program. Contributions from economics, geography and anthropology, among others, complement the core, to better understand the interplay of human and natural ecosystems. The program thrives from its truly international body of students and the faculty’s long-standing research expertise in worldwide contexts. 

The development of MaHS as an ICP program is supported by a number of partners across the globe: the University of Architecture Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa), University of Guayaquil (Ecuador), Technical University Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique) and Birzeit University (Palestine). Every year, partner co-production reinforces the unique and distinctive trait of the MaHS, namely that of an integrated approach to urban development that finds its best expression in the design studio where real-world problems are tackled. These intensive and shared design experiences are jointly organised with ICP partners as a way to balance fundamental and applied knowledge within a research-oriented approach.


Programme Master of Human Settlements

Design studios form a significant component of the programme. They are organised as two full days of work on Mondays and Tuesdays providing an intensive and immersive working environment, as is the norm in most professional practices. A balance between teamwork and individual contributions is developed and students are subdivided into small, mixed groups from the outset. Core courses are directly related to studio practice. A research thesis can be developed in line with a specific programme profile and supporting courses.

Your programme


Human Settlements & Architecture

The programme has a close link with the Departement of Architecture, responsible for research on architecture, interior architecture, urban design and regional planning.

Department of Architecture

Admission and application

Admission criteria

The admission policy is intended to ensure equal opportunity of access to higher education for qualified European and third country students. Your admission is based on the evaluation of a complete application file. All applications are evaluated by both KU Leuven Admissions Office and the relevant master’s programme director. Final admission decisions will made be at the discretion of the Faculty.

  • Academic background: Be a graduate (with minimum 5 years of university education) in Architecture, Architectural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Spatial Planning and Urbanism, or Social Science (with a strong spatial planning or policy focus).
  • Academic excellence: applicants should have a good academic record (normal level of 70%, or GPA 2.8/3.0, upper second class).
  • GRE test results: Students applying to this programme are exempted from submitting GRE scores, but it might still be considered as an asset. 
  • Strong motivation: applicants should submit a letter of motivation and a portfolio (design or planning analysis case studies, plus spatial analysis case study) which clearly demonstrate their sound professional intentions and relevant experience. Preferred candidates are applicants with some years of relevant professional experience.
  • English language proficiency: students should have a good command of English, both spoken and written.
  • Recommendation letters: Submit two recommendation letters to support the application.

Official and current admission requirements

Student profile

The programme aims to provide insight into the problems of Human Settlements as related to rapid change and to the interaction between modernity and tradition, formal and informal city-making. It also aims to strengthen capacities to tackle the growth of spontaneous settlements and the design of large scale projects in a complex urban context with up-to-date insights and techniques. Its graduates have a thorough understanding of the dynamic and multifunctional aspects of the built environment, they have the skills to devise interventions that are context-responsive and sustainable and are at ease in moving back-and-forth between academic theory and day-to-day professional practice.

Applicants with some years of relevant professional experience will be preferred. Students aim at preparing themselves for a possibly international career in the field of human settlements.

Application deadline

For most recent - and only official - information on application deadlines, check KU Leuven - Application deadlines.

Application procedure

Check the application instructions for Bachelor, Master, Postgraduate programmes and Credit Contracts. There is also a video that explains the application procedure from start to finish. 

Tuition fees

Tuition fees

It is worth noting that our tuition fees are cheaper than in many other European countries thanks to the generous financing of the higher education system by our government. Although all of our programmes are very affordable compared to equivalent universities around the world, the fees for any individual student are contingent upon their choice of academic programme and the nationality of the student.

For most recent and only official information on the tuition fees, check the KU Leuven - Tuition Fees.


Our aim is to offer affordable tuition fees for all students, which means we only have a limited number of scholarships available for students from particular backgrounds or studying in particular fields.

After graduation


Career perspectives

The programme produces interdisciplinary graduates capable of understanding and managing the complexity of urban development as well as promoting sustainable territorial transformations. The MaHS programme's graduates find employment across numerous and widespread areas.

Many of our alumni work as civil servants in urban development agencies in cities or national governments, or are independent professionals in the field of urban design, planning, and community development. Others join private architecture or urban design offices or take on in leadership and policymaking positions in regional, national, and international human settlements institutions, such as UNCHS or UEPP. A small number of graduates continue the academic trajectory by obtaining a PhD.

Career support

Our Student Career Center and our student organisation VTK are both happy to put you on the right track towards your first work experience. They also coaches you in the search for an interesting job and help you with job interviews. 


For students wanting to start their own business KU Leuven also has KICK, the KU Leuven community that encourages students with innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.

KU Leuven Kick

Our alumni network 

The Faculty of Engineering Sciences constantly aims at strengthening the contacts between alumni as well as between alumni and current students.​​​​

Why KU Leuven

KU Leuven is one of Europe’s highest-ranked and most renowned universities. It boasts a long tradition of pioneering research and high-quality education. But KU Leuven has quite a few other strengths as well.

More information

Our campus in Leuven 

The city of Leuven is home to the main and largest KU Leuven campus.

Faculty of Engineering Science

This programme is organised by the Faculty of Engineering Science, located at our beautiful and green campus in Heverlee - south of Leuven.​​​​​​

Website of the Faculty of Engineering Science


Find out more about studying at KU Leuven and quickly find the practical information you need.  

Chat with our students

Do you have any questions about student life in Belgium, life at KU Leuven or do you want more information about a specific course or programme? You can ask our students directly.

Chat with our student ambassadors

Stay informed

Want to stay informed on KU Leuven, our programmes, the deadlines when applying, ...? Leave your details to receive regular updates.

Keep me informed


Questions about the programme?

Ask about the classes you will take, the subjects you will study, or the campus where you will be spending your time.


Questions about studying at KU Leuven?

For those wondering about how KU Leuven can help you feel at home whilst studying in Belgium.


Questions about admissions?

Where to start, what to include, and more support on the road to enrolling at KU Leuven.