This demand-driven and practice orientated programme brings you fundamental understanding and knowledge on urban and peri-urban sanitation as well as the skills necessary for creating impact.

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    What is Delft based

    This programme will run entirely at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands

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Delft based, Delft (the Netherlands)12 Months, starts in May

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For whom?

The programme is dedicated to targeting needs and delivering specialists in a short time, with the necessary qualifications. It aims to attract talented and ambitious young and mid-career sanitation professionals, working in water supply and sewerage companies, municipal assemblies, government ministries, NGOs and consulting firms. Ideally these individuals are dealing with urban and peri-urban sanitation.


Students who successfully complete this programme will receive a MSc degree in Sanitation.


IHE Delft is member of:


Start: 03 May 2021
Application deadline: 31 December 2020

Learning objectives

While being at MSc level, the programme has a professional orientation. It is demand-driven, delivering graduates with the qualifications required by the sanitation sector. These areas will be prominent in the programme:

  • the linking of the taught subject matter, not only to research outcomes, but also to sanitation practice;
  • the nature of the individual research topics of  the students;
  • the embedding of the development of generic professional skills in the programme.

As a result, graduates will possess both the fundamental understanding, as well as the knowledge and skills necessary, to create professional impact ‘on the ground’. They will be able to apply existing knowledge and theory in practice and to contribute to the further development of knowledge in sanitation, and conduct practice-orientated field research, independently or in a multidisciplinary team.

Structure & contents

The one-year programme consists of a taught and a thesis research part . The taught part (39 ECTS) starts in MAy at IHE Delft and has a modular structure, comprising 12 modules ranging from 1 to 5 weeks’ duration, including lectures, laboratory tutorials, field trips, case studies, group work, design exercises and discussions. Especially for this programme, IHE Delft constructed a state-of-the-art faecal sludge laboratory, which is a member of the Global Partnership of Laboratories for Faecal Sludge Analyses. The individual thesis research (31 ECTS), follows on completion of the taught programme, although, in order to avoid a ‘cold start’ and to guarantee sufficient time, students will be allocated a research topic and will start preparing for their individual research early on in the programme. The thesis defence will take place at IHE Delft and students will be awarded an MSc degree from IHE Delft. To enable students to pass the entry exam, a set of preparatory e-learning courses are available for those who may need to increase their knowledge in one or more subjects as prerequisite for the programme.

  • IHE Delft, the Netherlands
    • Module 1: Sanitation Systems and Services Required

      This two-week course presents a systems approach to urban sanitation and has been developed by our partner Eawag. There is an emphasis on the enabling environment necessary for successful project planning and programming, which equates to overall sustainability. The theory is complemented by practical case studies on city-wide and area-based planning approaches. It provides the participants with an overview of different tools used for data collection and assessment of the initial situation as well as an introduction to urban sanitation diagnostic tools, stakeholder analysis, and mobile data collection tools. Lectures are combined with workshops and practical exercises.

    • Module 2: Leadership and Collaboration for Sanitation Change Required

      This innovative one-week course helps prepare professionals by teaching them how to productively influence their sector, workplace, and communities through an increased awareness of their personal leadership capabilities and the development of inter-personal communication skills. Through a series of practical and reflective group and individual exercises, as well as dedicated one-on-one coaching sessions, participants will gain an intimate understanding of the leaders they can be and develop their way forward to becoming future sanitation leaders. Professionals who can effectively lead diverse teams are vital to face the sanitation challenges of our increasingly complex, inter-connected and demanding world.

    • Module 3: Sanitation and Public Health Required

      This two-week course is designed to give participants an in-depth understanding of the links between sanitation and public health. The following themes are covered: human health hazards related to excreta, pathogens and transmission routes associated with human excreta, non-infectious health issues related to sanitation, and control measures to protect public health. This course also includes case studies of sanitation intervention trials and workshops on the most up-to-date risk evaluation tools such as Sanitation Safety Plans and SaniPath. This course has been developed by renowned public health experts from our partners Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology (USA) and in conjunction with the WHO.

    • Module 4: Analysis of Sanitation Flows Required

      A one-week course has been developed to enable the participants to distinguish between different sanitation flows through their characteristics. The following themes are covered: the different characteristics of sanitation flows, their potential pollution and health impacts and laboratory analysis of sanitation flows. The laboratory analysis covers basic parameters which are included in legislation and will include chemical, biological and physical parameters. This course is delivered through workshops, practicals and laboratory sessions, and is taught in our new faecal sludge laboratory, which is currently the only laboratory in Europe specialized in faecal sludge analysis.

    • Module 5: Sanitation Technology Required

      This five-week course aims to give the participants a review of the fundamentals as well as the latest technological developments applied in the field of sanitation. The course starts with a week-long overview of sewage-based sanitation options covering fundamentals of urban drainage and sewage and conventional wastewater treatment with the objective of helping the participants to make informed choices when applying city-wide sanitation planning. The majority of the course is devoted to non-sewered sanitation technologies from across the sanitation service chain from containment to reuse. Attention is given to treatment goals for faecal sludge e.g. sludge stabilization, pathogen inactivation, sludge dewatering and nutrient management, and how to achieve these. Both traditional and novel approaches and technologies are covered.

    • Module 6: Sanitation Governance Required

      This three-week course explores sanitation governance as a process of coordination and decision making between different stakeholders in the sector. This is done though the analysis of rights, risks, responsibilities, benefits and incomes related to faecal sludge and wastewater, and through the relationship of voice, power and authority. Sanitation practices and access across the sanitation service chain are related to equity and sustainability. Ultimately, the aim of this course is for the participant to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to understand and influence sanitation governance. The course includes the key theoretical perspectives in the field of sanitation governance; the methods used by scholars and practitioners to explore and analyze sanitation governance; formative debates around major current issues in this field which will be presented in the form of case studies; and tutorials from leading academics and practitioners.

    • Module 7: Sanitation Financing Required

      This two-week course has been developed in conjunction with leading experts in this field and gives an overview of current trends and needs in sanitation financing within the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework. It highlights the issues related to sanitation financing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, with examples from African and Asian countries. Participants will become familiar with sanitation financing options available at national and local level and their impact on the local municipal budget, as well as with novel and innovative sanitation financing approaches including private-public partnerships. The course distinguishes between the sanitation service and value chain, and explores sustainable business models with the entire sanitation service chain. The participants will gain practical knowledge to develop the costing and financing of a financially viable sanitation project.

    • Module 8: Behaviour Change and Advocacy Required

      This two-week course highlights the significance of behavioural change across the sanitation value chain. Participants are exposed to behaviour theories and advocacy methods from prominent sanitation professionals who have designed and implemented impactful interventions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. By reflecting on what has worked and what has not, the course challenges the erroneous notions of behaviour being rational, and education being the best way to induce change. Participants will come away with an understanding of the concepts underpinning behavioural change, as well as demonstrating an awareness of approaches that have promoted change in a diverse range of populations and contexts.

    • Module 9: Emergency Sanitation Required

      This two-week course has been developed in cooperation with major humanitarian organizations with the aim to enable participants to understand sanitation in a humanitarian context. It focuses on interdisciplinary humanitarian action including humanitarian principles and on how to work within the framework and coordination of humanitarian assistance. The stages of humanitarian aid, stakeholders in the international relief system, and their respective mandates are discussed in this course, as well as the appropriate sanitation options. At the end of the course participants will be able to plan, implement and monitor a sanitation response to an emergency situation.

    • Module 10: Project Management Required

      This two-week course will enable participants to develop a comprehensive sanitation project proposal, Project Implementation Plan (PIP) and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) plan. Participants will gain knowledge on the project management cycle and various approaches and frameworks used for result-based project management. Participants will also acquire hands-on experience on developing a sanitation project proposal by applying the ‘Theory of Change’ approach. The course also underlines enhancing skill in planning to implement project and it’s monitoring. The participants will apply Microsoft Project software to develop a project plan, which will be used to support them in becoming effective project managers.

    • Module 11: Teamwork Skills Development Required

      This course takes a novel approach by emphasizing practice and reflection, hence it is spread across the taught program. An initial self-assessment is undertaken and the theory of teamwork is reviewed, after which the participants will apply and reflect on how they and others function in a team over a series of group-work sessions. There are also several interactive sessions to deepen insights into group work theory. Throughout this course a portfolio is developed to capture the participants’ development of teamwork skills.

    • Module 12: Research Methods for Sanitation Required

      This two-week course has been developed to enable the participants to become effective researchers in the field of sanitation. The first part of this course covers the basics of research such as research approaches, the classification of studies, research study design and sampling strategies. The course then splits into two streams, (i) Advanced Laboratory Methods and (ii) Social Science Methods. Both streams are not only designed to introduce the participants to different methods, but to give them practical experience in using the methods and analyzing the resulting data. Examples of methods which are included in the first stream are anaerobic digestion potential and helminth analysis, and in the second stream, focus group discussion and visual research methods.

    • Research Theory and Practice Required

      This essential part of the program deals with the tools and skills necessary for MSc thesis research and includes all the activities leading to a successful research design and implementation. This course is spread throughout the program and each participant will select a research topic and be assigned an IHE and local mentor. They will then go on to prepare their literature review and defend their research thesis proposal. The research topics are embedded in practice and can be technical and/or non-technical in nature. It is expected that there will be a fieldwork aspect and the student will be hosted by one of our partner institutions who are working at the cutting edge of non-sewered sanitation research in low- and middle-income countries. Upon return to IHE Delft, the participants are expected to consolidate the research findings and prepare and defend an MSc research thesis.

Tuition & fellowships

The total cost of the programme including fees, student subsistence, accommodation cost and cost of air ticket are estimated at around €30,000.


There are various options to finance your participation in this programme. You may be eligible for a scholarship from the Joint Japan/Wordbank Graduate Scholarship Programme, Orange Knowledge Programme or from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Only applicants from selected countries are eligible for these scholarships. Each scholarship has its own, specific requirements and different criteria and deadlines apply. More information on the eligibility criteria for these scholarships are provided when you scroll down.

In the online application form for academic admission, you can indicate which type of financing mechanism you intend to utilize. Step 6 in the application form is about how you intend to pay the costs of your study and other expenses. You should select here the option that is applicable to your situation, which can be either scholarship, employer or private means. If you do not meet the criteria for either OKP or BMGF scholarship and do not have other financial means, you may also select the option "scholarship" and then search yourself for other scholarships that may be applicable for your case.

Joint Japan/Wordbank Graduate Scholarship Programme

The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJWBGSP) is open to women and men from developing countries with relevant professional experience and a history of supporting their countries’ development efforts. The call for applications for a JJWBGSP Scholarship to our Preferred Programs is open until the deadline of April 23, 2020.

More information

Orange Knowledge Programme Scholarship (OKP)

Eligibility criteria

  • The scholarship applicant works for one of the following types of national and/or local organisations: ministries, secondary or higher vocational or academic education institutions, universities, private sector, commissions or NGOs. The scholarship applicant may not work for: a bilateral or multilateral organisation; a non-governmental organisation that is internationally active and is focused on representing social interests, such as development cooperation, nature and environmental protection, health or human rights.
  • The scholarship applicant is a professional who, in light of his/her (1) role, (2) multiple years of relevant work experience and (3) networks within a theme relevant to local development, is in a position or through his/her employer could be put in a position to apply what he/she has learned in practice.
  • The scholarship applicant holds the nationality of and is resident and working in one of the countries on the OKP Country list, available here 
  • The scholarship applicant holds a valid identity document.
  • The scholarship applicant has provided a government statement with the scholarship application. Check here if this is required for your country.
  • The employer of the scholarship applicant supports the scholarship application through a positive reference, declares that it will continue to pay the salary of the scholarship recipient during the programme and after his/her return will give the scholarship recipient an opportunity to apply what he/she has learned in practice.
  • Sufficient English test results. Applicants who still need to submit their test results are only eligible to register for OKP scholarship, if they have registered to do an English test and have confirmation that test results will be available 15 July 2020 at the latest.
  • Have passed the entrance examination for the sanitation programme after having obtained provisional admission. Ultimate deadline for receive entrance examination results 15 July 2020.
  • You must have an official and valid passport. Applicants who do not have a valid passport at this moment: they are only eligible to register for OKP scholarship, if they have applied for a new passport and have confirmation that the passport will be available 15 July 2020 at the latest.

Application deadline for Orange Knowledge Scholarship
08 July 2020

Application procedure
First you have to apply for academic admission. If you can be conditionally admitted, and you are from an OKP eligible country you will receive the instructions how to register for the OKP scholarship. You do not need to apply separately for this, IHE will inform you in the beginning of June 2020. However, you are advised to prepare your employer statement and if required government statement well in advance, as this may require some time.

Outcome selection
Selection results for OKP scholarship are available mid-September 2020

Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Partial Scholarships

For the academic year 2021-2022 there will be 10 partial scholarships available from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For the partial scholarship the candidate is expected to cover €15,000 from other sources. All other cost will be covered by the BMGF Scholarship. The matching funds can be provided by yourself, your employer or any other sponsor, or combination of those.

You are strongly advised to search as soon as possible for matching funds. 

Eligibility criteria
If you wish to apply for this scholarship you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be from a low or middle income country (see list on OECD website)
  • Have a provisional admission to the programme (have passed the entrance exam)
  • Secured 50% funding (evidence required)

Application deadline for BMGF Scholarship
1 December 2020

Application procedure
|f you meet all the above-mentioned conditions, you will be automatically shortlisted for this scholarship. You do not need to apply separately for it.

Selection criteria
At least 50% of the scholarships will be awarded to female candidates. Selection will furthermore be based on your motivation statement. When you apply for admission, you have to upload a motivation statement. It is of utmost importance to pay careful attention to your motivation and to ONLY use the required format. Applicants whose motivation has the best fit with the programme objectives will pass to the next stage of selection (interview).

Outcome selection
Selection results for BMGF Scholarships are available by 01 February 2021.

Other scholarship

If you are neither eligible for OKP and nor for BMGF scholarship, you are strongly advised to search yourself for other options. More information on other scholarship opportunities is available on our website. Besides this you are advised to search yourself actively for other opportunities which may be specifically applicable for your country.

Other means of financing

It is possible to cover the cost of the programme by private means or with financial assistance of your employer or any other sponsor, or a combination. You can indicate this in your application form and choose the relevant option.With the documents that you have to upload when you apply for admission, there is an option to upload a document that confirms proof of funding.

Deadline overview

Download the deadline overview of the various scholarships

Application & Admission

Applicants who meet the admission requirements, and who have submitted a complete application, will receive a conditional academic admission letter. They will have to study two preparatory courses (chemistry and microbiology) and will have to do an entrance examination. If they pass the entrance examination, they will receive a provisional admission letter. This letter may be used in a search for scholarships.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find all FAQs related to application and admission to this programme here

Admission requirements

Conditional admission to the MSc Programme in Sanitation may be granted to applicants who provide:

  • A bachelor degree at level B/B+ (US system) or 2nd upper (British system) in an appropriate field. Exceptions can be made if a candidate is below this level, but has a substantial experience in the field of sanitation and/or has a strong motivation to join the programme.
  • A good command of the English language, if this is not the first language. All non-native English-speaking applicants must satisfy the English language requirements  for IHE Delft's educational programmes.

Admission procedure

Required documents for online application:

  • Motivation statement: for a successful application you are obliged to use the following template for your motivation statement. If you do not use this template your application will not be considered.
  • Certified copies of relevant degrees/diplomas.
  • Certified copies of academic transcripts. Authenticated or certified copies are copies with an official stamp to verify that the copies are true copies of original documents. This official stamp may be from one of the following: a solicitor/notary, the educational institution from where the student gained the diplomas or the local council/local authority/local government office.
  • Contact details of two referees who may best judge your academic and/or professional abilities. You have to mention the following details of the referee: Full name, Relation between the referee and yourself, Phone number and E-mail address.You need to upload this information in the application form where you have to upload a recommendation letter. We do not require the recommendation letter itself. We may contact one or both or referees during the admission process.
  • Copy of your passport is necessary.
  • Copy of results of English language test score

Note: all documents are required to be in English, or officially translated into English.

Admission procedure

  1. Submit your online application for admission.
  2. If your application is complete, and motivation statement and your bachelor degree meet the requirements, you will receive a conditional admission letter.
  3. If you comply with the admission requirements, you will receive a conditional admission letter and thereafter you will receive another e-mail where you will be given login details via which you will be granted access to the Preparatory Courses (1) of Microbiology and Chemistry for the MSc in Sanitation.
  4. After you have successfully passed the entrance examination (2) you will receive a provisional admission letter.
  5. Final admission depends on certification of financial support. Please read the information on scholarships or confirm your funding via other means.


(1)The study load per preparatory online course is approximately 28 hours, and is assessed by an entrance examination. 
(2) The examination is computer based, online, composed of approximately 40 questions and has a time limit of two hours. Before starting the entrance exam please ensure a good internet connection, and install the last version of java script on your browser (Google Chrome or Mozilla is preferred).

The entrance exam can only be taken twice and with a period of two weeks in between. In order to obtain the academic admission letter, you will need to pass the exams for the preparatory courses on Chemistry and Microbiology with a grade of 6 or higher. The deadline for submission of entrance exam results may depend on the type of funding. Please check this overview. We strongly advise you not to wait till the last moment. A staff member of IHE Delft will be available for questions on the preparatory course material via the preparatory courses platform. 

After you have satisfactory passed both entrance examinations, you will receive a provisional admission letter or a conditional admission if you still need to satisfy the English requirements.


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