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Master in Mathematics

Master in Mathematics

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  • Programme title
    Master in Mathematics
  • Programme mnemonic
  • Programme organised by
    • Faculty of Sciences
  • Degree type
    Master 120 credits
  • Tier
    2nd cycle
  • Field and branch of study
    Sciences and technics/Sciences
  • Schedule type
  • Languages of instruction
  • Theoretical programme duration
    2 years
  • Campus
  • Category / Topic
    Sciences and technics - Sciences
  • Jury President
    Joel FINE
  • Jury Secretary
    Antoine GLORIA


General information

Degree type

Master 120 credits

Theoretical programme duration

2 years

Learning language(s)


Schedule type




Category(ies) - Topic(s)

Sciences and technics - Sciences

Organising faculty(s) and university(ies)

Succeed in your studies

ULB offers a number of activities and resources that can help you develop a successful strategy before or during your studies.

You can make the transition to higher education easier by attending preparatory courses, summer classes, and information and orientation sessions, even before you start your studies at ULB.

During your studies, many people at ULB are there specifically to help you succeed: support staff in each faculty, (inter-)faculty guidance counsellors, tutors, and experts in academic methodology.


Mathematics plays a fundamental role in our technologically advanced society. The discipline is in constant evolution, with new discoveries made at an increasing pace. These answer either questions that were generated by internal progress in mathematics, or problems raised in other disciplines (scientific, industrial, business, etc.). Mathematics has proven to be indispensable in all branches of science and technology: cryptography and codes, medical imagery, telecommunications, theory of fundamental particles, space research, bioengineering, meteorology, ecological modelling, economy and finance, etc. This programme aims to train mathematicians who are ready to contribute to both the theoretical development of the discipline and the solution to problems from various origins. Our Master programme develops the students' ability to reason abstractly and rigorously, but also with invention and imagination. Graduates are also able to use existing powerful mathematical techniques as well as to develop new ones. Through the choices made during the Master programme, our students can direct their learning towards a career in research, in the private sector, or in teaching.

The majority of classes involve lectures in tandem with activities in which students take an active part (e.g. lab classes, reading seminars, talks, etc.).

While writing their dissertation and other personal assignments, students develop their creativity and even have a chance to contribute original research.

The Master benefits enormously from the internationally renowned research teams at the Mathematics Department. Moreover, active collaborations with the Economics, Computer Science, and Physics Departments, as well as agreements with neighbouring universities, broaden the range of courses available to students (some of which are given in Dutch or English). The programme is designed so that the student may develop their interests in various mathematical disciplines, chosen from a large range on offer. Research is conducted within the department in algebra and combinatorics, differential geometry, analysis of PDEs, mechanics and applied mathematics, probability, statistics, actuarial sciences, and mathematics teaching.

While most courses consist in lecture classes, a significant part of the progamme relies on individual assignments based on material that reaches beyond what is covered during the lectures. Students who choose the research focus, for instance, will receive an introduction to research in mathematics, and gain experience in scientific communication. Students who pick the teaching focus will spend time in classrooms. In both cases, the dissertation plays an important part in the programme (30 credits) and gives students an opportunity to master a subject of their choosing, to present a summary of various techniques and theories, and even perhaps to make an original contribution themselves. Graduates are well placed to tackle new problems, such as those encountered in pure research, in the industrial sector, or in other applications of mathematics.

Whilst comprised mainly of lecture courses, the progamme has a large component which is based on individual work of the student done over and above that which is is seen in lectures. The student who chooses an in-depth specialisation in mathematics, for example, will get an introduction to carrying out research in mathematics as well as experience of scientific communication. The student specialising in teaching of mathematics will spend time in classrooms. In both specialisations, the memoire plays an important role (30 ECTS) and gives the student the opportunity to master a subject of their choice, to present a synthesis of various techniques and theories and even perhaps to make an original contribution themselves. The finishing student will be well placed to attack new problems, such as those encountered in pure research, in industry or in other applications of mathematics.

During either the first or second year, students may spend one or two terms in another university of institute of higher education. This can be done inside or outside of Europe, under the Erasmus programme or by taking advantage of the many different agreements ULB has concluded with other universities.

A partnership with mathematics departments in French-speaking Belgian universities, as well as universities in North of France, gives access to Master programmes at the UniversitéCatholique de Louvain, the Université de Liège, the Université de Mons, the Université de Namur, and the universities of Artois, Lille 1, Littoral-Côte-d’Opale, Valenciennes, and Hainaut-Cambrésis. This programme also includes courses offered at VUB, and students can choose up to 30 additional credits in other disciplines

Access conditions


Research focus

The research oriented masters programme gives you complete freedom to specialise in those parts of advanced mathematics which excite you the most. The only obligatory courses are two projects, where you are free to choose the subject. If you already have an idea of a potential career, either in the private sector or in research, we can guide you in an appropriate choice of courses. 

The first project (in bloc 1) is called “Initiation in research and scientific communication”. Here you will learn how to carry out research: find and interpret originally sources yourself, write a synthesis, communicate a subject to your audience. The second project (in bloc 2) is the Masters Thesis. It is a large project in which you will arrive at or maybe even go beyond the cutting edge of current mathematical research. The possible topics are limited only by your imagination, from a research problem in abstract foundational mathematics to a concrete application to solve a specific problem in a private company, anything and everything is possible!

The remainder of your programme will be made up of optional courses. We offer a wide range of subjects which fall more-or-less in four large groups:

  • Discrete geometry, combinatorics and algebra
  • Analysis and partial differential equations
  • Differential geometry and topology
  • Statistics, probability and applied mathematics.  

It should be stressed that this division into “themes” is often artificial and there are many interactions between these areas. In fact, these strong connections between different fields of mathematics, which at first sight are unrelated, are amongst the most profound discoveries in modern mathematics.

Teaching focus

The teaching oriented masters programme will put you in position to train the scientists of the future ! There obligatory courses in pedagogie, stages and teaching. You will also have twoprojects to do. The first (in bloc 1) focuses on secondary school mathematics. It is in twoparts. For the first part you will create a mathematical workshop which can be run in a secondary school. You will learn how to motivate and inspire the students ! The second part involves a written text which will explain a topic from university mathematics to a strongstudent in 5th or 6th year. Thanks to this exercise, you will get a good understanding of the difference between school and university mathematics and learn how to give the students a taste of the subject, as you have yourself. 

The second project (in bloc 2) is the Masters Thesis. Here you can chose a research orientedtopic, just as in the research oriented masters programme, or you can carry out a researchproject in mathematical education. 

You have complete freedom to choose the remainder of your programme. You can choosefrom the wide range of advanced mathematical courses as well as all the other courses on offer in the Faculty of Sciences. In this way, you will have the chance to master the theoryand techniques of modern mathematics as well as witness their powerful applications in the other sciences, an experience which will serve you well as you transmit your passion for mathematics to your students !

What's next ?


Graduates of the Master in Mathematics go on to work in a wide variety of careers. Ten yearsafter graduation, 7% are pursuing further studies, 15% are teaching (either in secondaryschools or in higher education), 36% are pursuing a career in research (either in a universityor another institution), and 42% are working in a wide variety of jobs in the private sector(banks, pharamceutical industry, etc.).

While the demand for mathematics teachers remains high, options for graduates of a Master in Mathematics are particularly varied and include: high-level positions in financialorganisations, conducting studies in statistics or bio-statistics, consulting in network management, etc.

Careers open to graduates of this programme are extremely varied. In a survey of ourgraduates who received their diploma between 1997 and 2012:

  •  51.4% worked in the private sector or as civil servants (29.4% in finance, 10.3% in consulting, 2.5% in the pharmaceutical industry, 2% in computer science, and 7.2% in a variety of othercareers).
  • 26% worked in research or teaching at a university (9.3% were professors or permanent researchers, 5.4% were postdoctoral researchers, and 11.3% were studying for a PhD).
  • 19% worked as teachers (11.2% in secondary schools in Belgium, 2.5% in secondary schools in Luxembourg, and 5.4% in higher education).
  • Of the remaining graduates, 1% were voluntarily not employed and 2.5% were seekingemployment.

The need for mathematics teachers remains extremely high, but this is more than matched by the demand for skilled mathematicians in a variety of roles in the private sector, includinghigh-ranking positions in financial organisations, carrying out biostatistical studies, analysinglarge networks (e.g. in telecommunications or social media), and so on. Mathematicians playan increasingly important role in business and industry.