Students in Belgium start their medical education immediately after high school, at 18 years old. To start their training at a Flemish university, they must pass an entrance examination. The basic training for medicine school takes 6 years: 3 bachelor years and 3 master years. Once this basic training has successfully been finished, the students decide whether they want to graduate as a general practitioner (GP) or a specialist. Depending on their choice, they start another 3 to 7 years of training.

During the Bachelor years, basic medical sciences are educated: chemistry, physics, biomechanics, anatomy, histology, physiology… Additionally, special attention is paid to the psychological and sociological aspects of medicine. The bachelor education ends with the introduction of pathology, which will be further studied during the Master years.

There are 3 graduating options: general medical practice, hospital practitioner and societal health care. Students make their choice at the end of the sixth year, and will follow a different program depending on the field of study they chose. Students who opted for societal health care, will be trained in this area. GP’s will start internships in coöperation with a local GP, followed by a specific training program, which consists of both lectures and internships. Hospital practitioners will start with their two disciplines of choice, followed by other internships, relevant to their further education and specialization.

In 1997, our medical curriculum at Ghent University changed dramatically. Since these reformations, we no longer have traditional courses, but integrated courses. This is called the ‘blocks and lines’-system. The so-called blocks are packages of theoretical classes on one particular system of the body. For instance, we have a block course called ‘Nervous and sensory systems’ in which we study the anatomy of only this system along with its physiology, histology, embryology etc. This enables us to get an integrated view on the system as a whole, rather than having to put all the pieces from different courses together. The lines can be seen as courses that continue throughout the entire education program. They are meant to train clinical and communicative skills, as well as problem-solving. For example, we learn how to write a paper and search literature. During the first 4 years of our education, we are required to attend at least 3 extracurricular lectures a year. These lectures teach us how to put medicine in a larger social perspective.

The aim of this educational program is a good integration of both theoretical knowledge and practice concerning pathology. During the final years of the Master’s degree, students actively take part in internships in the different disciplines.


The medicine faculty at Ghent University has brought forth some important and well-known doctors.

The first great name is Jozef Guislain. He was the first Belgian physician to specialize in mental illness and a pioneer in psychiatry. Guislain’s first psychiatric hospital in Ghent is now the ‘Dr. Guislain Museum’. The present Dr. Guislain hospital was founded in 1997, next to the museum. Another important man in the history of medicine was Corneel Heymans, professor of pharmacology and Nobel Prize winner for Physiology and Medicine in 1938. Both the J.-F. & C. Heymans Institute for Pharmacology and the C. Heymans Foundation were named after him.

More contemporary renowned people from Ghent University’s medicine faculty include Jacques Rogge, former IOC-chairman (2001-2013) and orthopaedic surgeon. Peter Piot is the former UNAIDS Executive Director and discoverer of the ebola virus, a very contemporary global health problem. Also representing the medical sector in politics is Marleen Temmerman, former head of the WHO-department on Sexual And Reproductive Health and professor at Ghent University today. Last but not least, Petra De Sutter is a member of the European parliament as well as a professor of gynaecology at our university.


Ghent consistently rates among the top universities not only in Belgium but also throughout the world. As of 2018, Ghent University ranks 107th globally according to Times Higher Education, 125th according to QS World University Rankings, and 69th according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2017.

In the category of ‘life sciences and medicine’ specifically, Ghent University ranks 85th in the QS World University Rankings in 2017.