MSc in Ecology and Evolution

University of Groningen

Program Description

MSc in Ecology and Evolution

University of Groningen

University of Groningen


The Top Programme Evolutionary Biology is part of the Master's programme in Ecology and Evolution. It provides an optimal preparation for excelling students pursuing a career in academic research.

As a student of the Top Programme, you will be involved with research within the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences that harbours research groups of international excellence. The hallmark of the programme is to explore the interface between ecology and evolution. In line with the mission of GELIFES, the programme also strives to integrate mechanistic 'proximate' approaches (how does a biological system function?) with evolutionary 'ultimate' approaches (why does the system function the way it does?).

Research projects can be found in a broad variety of areas, ranging from community ecology to evolutionary medicine, and from behavioural ecology to evolutionary genetics. Research can be conducted in the field or in the lab and theoretically as well as experimentally.

Since the Top Programme is highly demanding and challenging, only the top 10-15% of a cohort can be admitted. During these projects, students are fully embedded in a research group where they work on their own research questions. The label 'Top Master' programme to a limited number of selective, international programmes that are strongly research oriented and specifically designed to provide an optimal preparation for a subsequent PhD project and eventually a career in academic research.

We also offer the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master's Programme in Evolutionary Biology (MEME;, which is a joint initiative of the universities of Groningen, Montpellier (France), Munich (Germany), Uppsala (Sweden) and Harvard (USA). MEME is based on the same philosophy as the Top programme, but students have extra mobility requirements since they are supposed to obtain a double degree from two different universities.


1st year

The first semester consists of three mandatory advanced courses of 10 ECTS each (Evolutionary Ecology Research; Genomics in Ecology and Evolution; Evolutionary Theory). Two individually supervised research projects (30-40 ECTS each) form the core of the programme.

2nd year

As a student, you experience all aspects of modern research practice (formulating a research question, designing a research plan, conducting research, analyzing data, writing a scientific manuscript, presenting and defending the conclusions in public). In addition, students give a colloquium, where they present their ideas on a current research topic, and they write an essay, which is either a literature review or a PhD research proposal.

2-year programme; credits per year: 60 ECTS; most courses are 5 ECTS.

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is optional
  • For an average of 20 weeks
  • Maximum of 60 EC

Exchange: All our science and engineering programmes offer study abroad possibilities at a number of partner institutions. Our partners include top-100 universities in Europe (for example in Germany, UK, and Sweden) and in the USA, China, South-East Asia, and South America. Our exchange programmes have a typical duration of one semester and count toward your final degree.

Admission requirements

Specific requirements More information
additional subject The Admissions Office will advise the Admissions Board on your application, after which the board will decide if you meet the admission requirements in terms of general level of previous education and specific background knowledge.
grade average Marks that clearly identify the candidate as belonging to the top 10% of their cohort.
previous education Bachelor's degree in Biology or equivalent.This is merely an indication of required background knowledge. The admissions board determines whether the specific contents of this/these course(s) meet the admission requirements of the master programme for which you applied.
other admission requirements The top programma Evolutionary Biology is an advanced track within the MSc programme Ecology and Evolution. You can apply via Studielink by selecting the MSc programme Ecology and Evolution and add the notification or remark Evolutionary Biology. If you wish to apply for the MEME programme you should apply before the 1st of February

Language requirements

Exam Minimum score
IELTS overall band 6.5
TOEFL paper-based 580
TOEFL computer based 237
TOEFL internet based 92

Tuition fees

Nationality Year Fee Programme form
EU/EEA 2017-2018 € 2060 full-time
non-EU/EEA 2017-2018 € 14200 full-time

Application deadlines

Type of student Deadline Start course
EU/EEA students 01 May 2018 01 September 2018
non-EU/EEA students 01 May 2018 01 September 2018

Job prospects

These programmes are specifically designed to prepare you for a subsequent PhD and eventually a career in academic research. Accordingly, >90% of all Top Programme students continue their career by starting PhD research.

Job examples

PhD research position


CHE Excellent Ranking in Biology since 2007

The Top programme 'Evolutionary Biology' has turned out to be particularly successful. The hallmark of this programme is to explore the interface between ecology and evolution. It is administered by the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), a centre of excellence in ecological and evolutionary research.

The central position of the Master's programme within this high-standing research environment ensures that students can benefit from a wide spectrum of national and inter­national expertise across the fields of ecology and evolution.


The Master's degree programme is coordinated by the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences. GELIFES focuses its research on the level of the individual organism (behaviour, physiology, morphology, genetics, development) and on higher levels of organisation (population, communities, ecosystems). The research is being done on a broad range of organisms (terrestrial-marine; microorganisms-plants-animals) with a broad range of methods and approaches (field, lab, theoretical).A hallmark of GELIFES is that we strive to integrate mechanistic approaches (how does an organism function?) with evolutionary approaches (why does the organism function as it does?). We specifically aim to integrate these fields that are traditionally studied in isolation.

GELIFES is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and embraces six expertise groups:

  • Behavioural & Physiological Ecology
  • Conservation Ecology Group
  • Evolutionary Genetics, Development & Behaviour
  • Genomics Research in Ecology & Evolution in Nature
  • Neurobiology
  • Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 28, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2019
24 months
Full time
Netherlands - Groningen, Groningen
Start date : Sept. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2019
Netherlands - Groningen, Groningen
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info