open calls

International Master of Science in Rural Development - VLIR Learning Path (IMRD-VLIR)



The International Master of Science in Rural Development - VLIR Learning Path (IMRD-VLIR) is a new learning path under the IMRD scheme. This track is only open to students who receive a full scholarship provided by the Flemish Interuniversity Council for University Development Cooperation (VLIR-UOS) under the International Courses Programme (ICP), call 2017.

The yearly student intake foreseen, is that of 12 students, originating from the VLIR-UOS ICP student country beneficiaries list.

IMRD-VLIR is a 2 year MSc programme of 120 ECTS leading - upon its successful completion - to the joint degree diploma and joint degree diploma supplement of International Master of Science in Rural Development.

It is an international programme with obligatory student mobility in- and outside Europe. Notwithstanding, as organized by the Ghent University, student must fulfill at least half (first and last (thesis) semester) of their study period at Ghent University.

Besides the Ghent University, following IMRD Consortium partners cooperate within the IMRD-VLIR consortium:

  1. the 3 European IMRD scholarship awarding universities: Agrocampus Ouest (France), Slovak University of Agricultural science in Nitra (Slovakia), and University of Pisa (Pisa);
  2. the 3 non-European IMRD partners situated in VLIR-UOS strategic partner countries: Can Tho University (Viet Nam), University of Pretoria (South Africa), Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (Ecuador).
  3. for data collection and internship possibilities, IMRD-VLIR works closely with the following Belgian ODA recipient NGO: BOS+, Trias, Vredeseilanden.


Academic Focus

The overall focus of this MSc. is rural development in the broad sense. Students however should choose between 4 sub tracks which focus on different academic fields within rural development:

  1. Agricultural and Development Economics
  2. Natural Resource Management and Territorial Studies
  3. Inclusive Business Models and Land Reform
  4. Public Administration and Regional Development


Programme outline

IMRD-VLIR is a two year (24 months) MSc. course programme divided into 5 obligatory modules through which the students are required to obtain at least 120 ECTS upon graduation, of which the obligatory master dissertation (thesis) stands for 30 ECTS. With regard to the thesis, students are highly recommend to collect data in their home country, or in one of the non-European IMRD-VLIR partner universities and countries. Following are the 5 obligatory course modules:

  1. General Entrance Module (Semester 1)
  2. Advanced Module I (Semester 2)
  3. Case Study (summer course)
  4. Advanced Module II (Semester 3)
  5. Thesis Module (Semester 4)


Alongside, students are highly encouraged, though not obliged to conduct an internship during their study for which they can obtain either 6 or 12 ECTS (depending on the content and finality of the internship). For each study track, fixed internship possibilities are provided by Belgian ODA supported NGO and in the non-European IMRD-VLIR partner universities and countries.



Each of the above mentioned academic sub tracks is linked to a more or less fixed mobility path, based on the discipline specialty of each partner university. In other words, IMRD-VLIR, European and non-European universities and NGO's are linked based on their academic strengths and focus points; hence the NGO's work in the field which the partner country university they are linked to academically focusses on. This should enhance students to gain practical experience in the academic field they have been focusing on.

Whereas it is mandatory for students to follow the first and last semester (and thus defend their thesis) at Ghent University, they are required to follow the second semester in a different European partner university. This is an obligatory requirement in order to obtain the IMRD diploma (being it an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree).

The academic focus students opt for, automatically links the student to a European partner university, as well as to a non-European partner university and the possible place (NGO) of internship and/or data collection.

Students have the option to attend Ghent University instead of a non-European partner university during the third semester; though in that case they are required to attend the obligatory case study in Viet Nam instead of a European case study.

The above leads to the following mobility scheme:


The intent will be to select students, safeguarding an equal distribution amongst the different tracks over the funding period.

Intervention type

International Master Programme


03/09/2017 - 31/12/2021

This project is being implemented in:
Flemish promoter Stijn Speelman
Local partner institution Universiteit Gent
Budget € 719.961