Ecology is a 2-years (120 ECTS) master’s program with the aim to provide you with the knowledge, skills and insight required to operate as an independent professional and to be a suitable candidate for a subsequent course of study leading to a career in Ecological research.

Ecologists investigate the relationships between organisms and their environment. As a master’s student you will study how nature works. Both an aim in itself and to develop the tools to predict and combat problems caused by pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change. You will study Ecology from a plant, animal and systems perspective. Ecological processes are investigated from the molecular level on to the regional and global scale, where field observations and experiments are used to identify ecosystems’ patterns and functions.

After having completed the program, you will have developed a critical scientific approach and an awareness of the ethical and societal aspects of Ecology.


Within the Master’s program in Ecology you can choose between three different tracks. Either one prepares you for a niche in the broad field of Ecology:

  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
  • Limnology and Oceanography (UvA)

These tracks are organized in close cooperation with the University of Amsterdam (UvA). This implies that some (course) components will take place at the Science Park of UvA and others at the VU campus. In all courses teachers of both universities will be participating.

More information on each track can be found via the specialisations page of this master on the VU website.

Study components

All tracks in the Amsterdam Ecology program are full-time, two year programs, comprising 120 ECTS. The first four months of each year are spent on coursework. The remainder of each year is spent on a literature survey and research projects.

The Ecology and Evolution specialization is a combination of the former Ecology and Evolution program of both universities. The track offers the same package of courses to MSc students of both universities. This means that you will share classes and teachers with students from the other university. A unique opportunity to profit from the diversity in scientific expertise, teaching experience, research equipment and all other facilities the two universities can offer you.

The Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology is a new program developed at the VU and UvA operating in the multidisciplinary fields of Ecology, Analytical Chemistry, Biology, Biomedical Sciences and Human Health Sciences.

The Limnology and Oceanography (UvA) track is an existing program at the UVA studying the Biology, Chemistry and Physics of freshwater ecosystems (Limnology) and marine ecosystems (Oceanography).To participate in this program you need to be registered as a MSc Biological Sciences student at UvA University.

For a more detailed overview of the courses see the yearly schedule on the FALW website.


In general, you can be admitted to the program in Ecology if you have completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. If you have a Bachelor’s degree in another subject, the Examination Board will decide whether you can be admitted. If necessary, the examination board will set additional requirements.

For more details about the application procedure and requirements see the admission and application page on the VU website.

Please note the following:

  • VU University Amsterdam requires all international applicants to pass an English language proficiency test.
  • If you do not have a BSc in Biology you are strongly advised to contact the coordinator of the MSc Ecology before you start the online application in order to evaluate your chances of being admitted by the Examination Board.  Mail to coordinator Gerard Driessen at .
  • The deadlines for application are 1st of June for all students with a Dutch degree, 1st of April non-Dutch students with an international degree and 1st of March for non-EU/EAA and EU/EEA students who wish to apply for a VUFP grant. More information and how to apply can be found on the admission and application page on the VU website.
  • When registered in the MSc Ecology program of the VU you will also automatically be registered as a ‘bijvakstudent’ at the UvA (similarly for UvA students). You will thus be assigned a VUnetID and an UvAnetID. You should enroll for VU (course) components at the VU and for UvA (course) components at the UvA.

Further information

  • The year schedule 2013 – 2014 can be found at the FALW-website.
  • Further information about the MSc program Ecology.
  • A complete program description can be found at the FALW-website.

Disclaimer: This page contains a consolidation of information found on the VU, FALW, VUmc and master specific websites; hence no rights can be derived from the information on this page, for more up to date, detailed and accurate information please refer to aforementioned websites!