A one year Master of Science Programme in Sanitation

In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (IHE Delft) has launched a new Master of Science Programme in Sanitation. It is a unique, internationally recognized programme, designed for completion in 12 months.  

The programme with scholarships available for top talents, is based at IHE Delft in the Netherlands, with thesis work abroad, while, in the near future, the programme will also be available at universities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The state-of-the-art content was developed and provided by the world’s top experts from both academia and practice. This demand-driven and practice orientated programme will yield graduates with fundamental understanding and knowledge, as well as the skills necessary for creating impact.

The generic skills development is embedded from the start, through individual coaching and tailored guidance. Preparatory (e-learning) courses and entry interviews are included. All graduates will benefit from a dedicated career development programme, supported by the BMGF and will become a member of the Global Faecal Sludge Management Learning Alliance and alumni community. The new MSc programme will start on 23 April 2018. 

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, especially in informal settlements. 

Participants should have a Bachelor’s or equivalent degree in sanitary, civil, chemical, agricultural, environmental engineering, chemistry, ecology, biology, natural science, environmental science, agriculture, environmental economics. Candidates who do not have a degree in the relevant field, but do have various years of work experience in the field of sanitation can also apply.

Given the global mission of IHE Delft, regional relevance of partner universities, and the close cooperation with the BMGF and its focus on professionals from South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the new programme encourages people from those regions to apply, without excluding applicants from Latin America, North America and Europe. Women, irrespective of their geographical location, are encouraged to apply. 

Final qualification

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. 

Programme structure

The 68 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) points programme consists of a taught and a thesis research part. The taught part has a modular structure, comprising 13 modules ranging from 1 to 6 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 (29 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 field work part of the research will preferably take place in a developing country, hosted by one of IHE Delft's academic partners and supervised locally by partner institution's staff. The thesis defence will take place at IHE Delft and students will be awarded an accredited 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.

The programme development included consultation with and the contribution of more than 100 top sanitation experts, and is based on a student orientated, problem solving approach, applying active learning methods. Since its establishment 60 years ago, IHE Delft has been providing training and education to water sector professionals, in cooperation with renowned experts from our global network. The new MSc Programme in Sanitation is no exception to this practice. Along with its own staff, IHE Delft secured commitment of a selection of the world’s leading water professionals and academics, who agreed to share their wealth of experience with participants of this programme, either by teaching in Delft, or supervising applied research work in the field. 


The programme focus is on non-sewered sanitation, as sewerage-based sanitation is the subject of the complementary specialization in Sanitary Engineering.  The programme design and module plans have been prepared in cooperation with partners from academia and practice. The input from practice was essential, as the new programme has a clear professional focus. The course content facilitates meeting the learning objectives and the achievement of the final qualification.

The following topics are part of the programme:

  • Introduction to sanitation (1 week)
  • Sanitation systems and services (2)
  • Public health (2)
  • Technology (6)
  • Governance (3)
  • Finances (1)
  • Behaviour change (2)
  • Leadership (1)
  • Project management (1)
  • WASH in emergencies (2)
  • Group work (1)
  • Basic laboratory training (1)
  • Advanced laboratory training (2), or
  • Social science methods (2)

Quality assurance

The new MSc programme in Sanitation is subject to IHE Delft’s quality assurance framework for education, which includes regular feedback from students at module and programme level. 

Application and Scholarships

Fifteen top talents will be admitted to the first edition of the MSc in Sanitation (academic cohort 2018-2019) and will receive a scholarship. The scholarship covers: tuition fee; direct study related cost; insurance; visa cost; monthly allowance for living and accommodation; research allowance, international travel. Visa and accommodation will be arranged by IHE Delft.

In the subsequent editions, starting from the class 2019-2020, the programme will be open to more students (up to 50) and funding beyond scholarships provided by the BMGF will be necessary.

The starting date of the new MSc programme is 23 April 2018. The application deadline is 15 November 2017 (23.59 CET).

Read more about admission requirements and how to apply.