The Master’s programme in Biology is organized and run by the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences at VU University Amsterdam. The programme is taught within the Graduate School of Health and Life Sciences. The master programme consists of 120 ECTS (two years) and is taught in English.

We aim to (1) provide students with the fundamental knowledge of the biological sciences, (2) educate them in a specialized field of modern biology by exposing them to front-line research, and (3) teach them the skills and attitudes necessary for applying biological insights in a societal context.

This master is unique in the sense that you can choose your own profile: either a research, science communication, societal or educational profile. You always combine a research year with one of the above mentioned profiles, thereby specializing in two areas of interest.


  • Green Life Sciences. This specialisation is focused on how plants grow, develop and how they are adapted to the environment. Topics also include plant-microbe interactions, molecular biology, developmental biology, genetics and evolution, ecology and physiology and biotechnology.
  • Ecology. This specialisation is focused on the dynamic relation between organisms (plants, animals, and microbes) and their changing environment, including the molecular and physiological interactions between organisms as well as the ecological traits that determine the composition of communities.
  • Brain and Behaviour. The specific aim of the specialisation is to get the necessary knowledge, skills, insight and understanding of the multiple facets that play a role in various kinds of behavioural functions and how these are influenced by genes, environmental and developmental factors.
  • Education Specialisation (lerarenopleiding). In this specialisation the students acquire competencies enabling them to fully function as professional teachers in ‘Biologie’ (Biology). Students who have successfully completed this specialisation are entitled to work as teachers at all levels of secondary education. The specialisation is combined with a specialisation in biological research.
  • Societal specialisation. This is a specialisation at the interface of biology and society. Knowledge is gained on various fields such as policy, management and entrepreneurship on biological and medical issues. It is combined with a specialisation in biological research.
  • Science communication specialisation. This specialisation focuses on interactions between science and society through various media and its educational programme combines aspects of academic research with training skills through courses such as science journalism and information education, and science communication. It is combined with a specialisation in biological research.

Study components

Specialisation specific courses are generally offered from September till December, internships are planned mostly in the period February till June. The compulsory general parts are planned in between.

The programme consists of the following components, with the study load for each component given in EC:

–       Compulsory general courses (academic core), 18 EC in total

  • Scientific Writing in English, 3 EC
  • Ethics in Life Sciences, 3 EC
  • History of Life Sciences, 3 EC
  • Literature thesis (report & presentation), 9 EC

–       Compulsory courses within a specialization, 18 EC

–       Optional courses or second specialization courses, 24 EC in total

–       Research internships, 60 EC in total:

  • Research internship, 30 EC (leading to a report on a biological subject)
  • Additional internship, 30 EC (either focuses on research or is of a professional nature)

Programme options

The student has several options when scheduling his or her programme:

  1. The student chooses one research specialization.
  2. The student chooses two research specializations.
  3. The student combines a research specialization with a Societal, Communication or Education specialization.


To be considered for admission to the Master’s programme in Biology you must meet the following requirements:

  • If you hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from a Dutch university, you will be granted automatic admission to the Master’s programme.
  • If you have another Bachelor’s degree from a university or a Bachelor’s degree from an institute of higher education (HBO) in the Netherlands or abroad, the Examination Board will decide on your admission. The Examination Board will determine whether the qualification in question is sufficiently relevant to warrant admission. The board may set additional requirements before granting admission to the programme.
  • English language proficiency requirements. VU University Amsterdam requires international applicants to pass an English language proficiency test.
    N.B. Students who need a visa (MVV) to enter the Netherlands must have passed the test and submitted the original test certificate before 1 June. All other students have to submit the test certificate at the latest before 1 September.

The admission deadlines:

1 March: non-EU/EEA and EU/EEA students who also wish to apply for a VUFP grant

1 April: non-Dutch students with an international degree

1 June: all others (Dutch degree, or Dutch student)