University of Groningen

Which organisms are able to adapt to global change? How do birds decide when and where to migrate? When and why do individual differences in physiology or behavior evolve?

This Master's degree program has a selection procedure.

During the two-year Master's program Ecology and Evolution, you will gain insight into the living organism in relation to its environment. Ecology and evolution are strongly interdependent: without ecology, we cannot really understand natural selection; and without evolution, we cannot really understand the properties of organisms and their interaction with the environment. Ecology and evolution are relevant to all domains of the life sciences.

Ecology and evolutionary biology play a crucial role in facing the grand challenges of our time. This includes the development of realistic plans for coping with the implications of global change, for stopping the alarming biodiversity loss, for designing evolutionarily stable strategies to set-up a sustainable society, and for developing an evolution-informed medical treatment. The research fields of ecology and evolution are highly dynamic. Powerful new techniques (e.g. GPS-tracking of migrating birds over the whole planet; remote sensing; tracking of individual cells in a culture of micro-organisms; genome-wide sequencing; individual-based simulations; new methods to analyze ‘big data’) allow us to resolve long-standing puzzles.

These new approaches lead to new insights and concepts that change our way of thinking, including a range of new integrative disciplines (e.g. evo-devo; evolutionary medicine; evolutionary community ecology; ecological immunology; evolutionary systems biology; adaptation and conservation genomics; evolutionary psychology). With this Master's program, we aim to educate the new generation of scientists in ecology and evolution, both those who want to study the big fundamental questions in all domains of the life sciences and those who want to contribute to solving the grand challenges of our time.

The Master's degree program Ecology and Evolution is offered by the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), which conducts internationally recognized research in a unique diversity of areas relevant for ecology and evolution, including conservation biology, community ecology, microbial ecology, marine biology, evolutionary genetics and genomics, evolutionary systems biology, ecophysiology, neurobiology, chronobiology, evolutionary medicine, behavioural ecology, animal personality research, social evolution, and theoretical biology. We study a wide array of species, from microbes, algae, plants, and insects to vertebrates such as fish, birds, rodents, marine mammals, large herbivores and humans.

The selective Master's program offers 2 specialized research tracks:

  • Evolutionary Biology, that is strongly research-oriented and designed to provide optimal preparation for a subsequent Ph.D. and eventually a career in academic research;
  • Ecology & Conservation, to educate the new generation of ecologists to contribute to understanding and solving the global ecological problems, as a scientist and practitioner in the field. In this program, you will learn how organisms, populations, and communities are affected by changing environmental conditions, and how this knowledge can contribute to successful ecological conservation and restoration programs.

The selective Master's program is designed for students primarily aiming for a career in research, and who are able to keep up with the study pace of the cohort that starts in September. Students who would like to start during the academic year and / or aim for a career that focuses on the business and policy side of science are referred to our Master’s program Biology.

Why study this program in Groningen?

  • Combination of in-depth training and the opportunity for designing a tailor-made program in ecology and evolution
  • Offers a double degree for the track Evolutionary Biology with the universities of Uppsala, Montpellier or Munich
  • Students form collaborative cohorts and frequently interact with their supervisors & teachers
  • Coaching by a personal mentor
  • Broad-spectrum of research projects, tailored to the individual preferences of the student, ranging from microbes to whales, and from molecules to ecosystems. Research can be conducted in the field or in the lab and theoretically as well as experimentally.
  • Opportunities to conduct fieldwork in diverse environments (on all five continents), including the nearby Wadden Sea (on the UNESCO World Heritage list) and the arctic regions.
  • Our faculty is the home of the 2016 Nobel laureate in Chemistry, Ben Feringa, and GELIFES is the home of the 2014 Spinoza Prize winner, Theunis Piersma.

Program

Curriculum

You can choose between the two tracks:

  1. Evolutionary Biology
  2. Ecology & Conservation

The program tracks start with a series of mandatory courses on the advanced theory and state-of-the-art in the research field of the tracks (20-30 EC), followed by a series of elective specialist-topic or skill courses, tailored to the individual preferences of the student (10-20 EC). A large proportion of the program is devoted to two research projects in which the students are fully embedded in a research group of their choice, to conduct their own research. To guarantee optimal supervision and a first-class research environment, the first project (30-40 EC) has to be carried out at the University of Groningen. The second project (30 EC) is to be conducted in a different research group, either at the University of Groningen or elsewhere, to learn new techniques and scientific approaches, and to extend the scientific network. If desired, this second project can be done abroad. Students in the track Evolutionary biology can opt for a double degree with either one of the universities of Uppsala, Montpelier or Munich.

Study abroad

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

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

Admission requirements

Dutch diploma

Specific requirements More information
Knowledge minimum

English proficiency on VWO level is required.

Previous education

This master's degree program has a selection procedure; read the information below!

An academic Bachelor's degree in Biology with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution or another related field. This is merely an indication of the required background knowledge. The admissions board determines whether the specific contents of this/these course(s) meet the admission requirements of the master program for which you applied.

Other admission requirements

The Ecology and Evolution research master is selective. Selection will be based on academic performance and motivation to determine if you will be selected for the master's program. After you have registered, your application will be requested to pass on to the Admissions Board of the program.

International diploma

Specific requirements More information
Previous education

This master's degree program has a selection procedure; read the information below.

An academic Bachelor's degree in Biology with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution or another related field. This is merely an indication of the required background knowledge. The admissions board determines whether the specific contents of this/these course(s) meet the admission requirements of the master program for which you applied.

Other admission requirements

The Ecology and Evolution research master is selective. Selection will be based on academic performance and motivation to determine if you will be selected for the master's program. After you have registered, your application will be requested to pass on to the Admissions Board of the program.

Language requirements

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

Registration procedure

The Admissions Board will decide whether you can be admitted to the Master's degree program.

Fill out the application form to explain why you choose to apply for this Master's degree program (questions to be addressed are outlined on the form).

Use the application form to describe your education in:

  • Biostatistics
  • Evolution
  • Ecology
  • Physiology
  • Cell biology

Provide two reference letters (non-EU applicants) or provide the names of those we may contact for reference (EU applicants) using the application form.

Provide a bachelor thesis or another individually written report of an academic assignment. If such a report is not available an assignment will be given by the Admission Board.

Application deadlines

Type of student Deadline Start course
Dutch students

01 May 2020

01 September 2020

EU/EEA students

01 May 2020

01 September 2020

non-EU/EEA students

01 May 2020

01 September 2020

Tuition fees

Nationality Year Fee Program form
EU/EEA 2019-2020 € 2083 full-time
non-EU/EEA 2019-2020 € 15500 full-time
EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 2143 full-time

Job prospects

Graduates of the program who have chosen for the selective research master often enter a Ph.D. program or join a research and development team in a company or research institute.

Job examples

  • Ph.D. research position
  • R&D in a company or research institute
  • Scientific advisor, project officer or consultant

Research

Research Projects in Various Fields

The Master's degree program is coordinated by the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences.

GELIFES focuses its research on the level of the individual organism (behavior, physiology, morphology, genetics, development) and on higher levels of organization (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 do the organisms 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 research groups:

  • Behavioral & Physiological Ecology
  • Conservation Ecology Group
  • Evolutionary Genetics, Development & Behavior
  • Genomics Research in Ecology & Evolution in Nature
  • Neurobiology
  • Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences
Program taught in:
  • English (US)

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Last updated October 6, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Feb 1, 2020
Sep 1, 2020
Duration
24 months
Full-time
Price
2,143 EUR
EU/EEA students: €2143/year. Non-EU/EEA students: €15500
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MSc in Ecology and Evolution