MSc in Population Studies


Program Description

Are you interested in studying contemporary population issues like aging, migration and global population growth? In the master program, Population Studies students learn the theories, methods, and skills required to become a versatile demographer.

Essential to understanding population dynamics is the study of people’s demographic behavior, such as birth, health, migration, and death. The master program focuses on these demographic events, on how decision-making regarding these life events is influenced by the economic, societal, cultural, and geographical context, and on how these demographic events have an impact on population-level trends.

You will learn about:

  • Contemporary population issues as population aging, integration of migrants, health inequalities and global population growth
  • Individual decision-making processes behind demographic events, such as family formation, residential choices and health care use
  • Collecting and interpreting demographic data
  • Methods and techniques to analyze demographic data: life tables, population projections, advanced statistical analysis, and qualitative research methods
  • Population policies and intervention programs

The field of Population Studies reflects on and deals with contemporary demographic topics and related societal issues. The study is simultaneously concrete and broad.

The Master in Population Studies is also interesting for mid-career professionals working at, for example, statistical offices or demographic departments of government agencies.

We also offer two double degree programs: with the University of Cologne in Germany (Demography and Social Inequality) and with the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain (Social Demography). You can also combine the Master in Population Studies with our top-rated Research Master in Spatial Sciences.

Why study this program in Groningen?

Our program is unique in its combination of analytical and social demography, its combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, and its international, multidisciplinary and strong scientific orientation. Interactive ways of teaching are being employed by very enthusiastic and dedicated teachers. Within the Netherlands, Groningen is the only university offering an MSC in Population Studies.


Year 1


  • Population, Health, and Place (5 EC)
  • Working with Data in Population Research (5 EC)
  • Optional courses (10 EC)
  • Life Tables and Population Projections (5 EC)
  • Migration, Families, and Households (5 EC)
  • Advanced Statistical Analysis (5 EC)
  • Contemporary Population Issues (5 EC)
  • Master's Thesis Population Studies (20 EC)

Study abroad

Study abroad is optional.

Admission requirements

Dutch or international diploma

Specific requirements More information
Knowledge minimum

Students with a Dutch or foreign certificate of higher education that indicates that they have knowledge, understanding, and skills at the level of a university Bachelor's degree and who can demonstrate the following specific knowledge, understanding and skills will be admitted to the degree program: a) knowledge of the subject of Population Studies at the level of holders of a certificate from the Bachelor's degree programme in 'Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning' b) knowledge representing 10 ECTS in statistics courses or the student's statistical knowledge should be equivalent to that, shown by active knowledge of at least variance, association and correlation measures, chi-square tests, univariate and multivariate linear regression, the basics of matrix algebra and the basics of integration & differentiation. We assume that this includes some experience with EXCEL and with using statistical software programs, such as SPSS, STATA, and R.

Language test
  • English on VWO level
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (A, B or C)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (A, B or C)
  • Minimum of 6,5 for the International English Language Testing System (Academic version) (IELTS). With a minimum of 6,5 on listening, reading, writing and speaking.
  • Minimum of 90 on the internet-based version of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Minimum of 580 on the written version of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Minimum of 237 on the interactive version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Exemptions: native speakers or students with education from the US, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, United Kingdom or Ireland
Previous education

Holders of a certificate from the Bachelor's degree program in 'Spatial Planning and Design (Technische Planologie)' of the University of Groningen or a certificate from the Bachelor's degree program in Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning (Sociale Geografie & Planologie) from a Dutch university have direct access. Also holders of a bachelor's degree in 'Sociology', 'Social Psychology', 'Epidemiology', 'Global and Public Health', 'Nutrition and Health', 'Cultural Anthropology', 'Gerontology, 'International Relations', 'Development Studies', 'Statistics', 'Economics' and 'Liberal Arts and Sciences' from any research university (inter)nationally are expected to have the knowledge and skills required to start the degree programme, and are admitted to the degree programme on that basis.

Other admission requirements

The Admissions Board may require students that do not match the knowledge minimum, come from other disciplines or come from universities of applied sciences to follow additional courses before being allowed to enter the degree program. This pre-masters of a maximum of 60 ECTS (2 demography courses, 2 methodology/writing courses, 2 statistics courses and for students from universities of applied sciences, a Bachelor's thesis) will be assessed individually. Contact: master coordinator Billie de Haas.

Applicants are advised to follow (courses of) the Minor in Population Studies and/or the Web class Population Studies before entering the Master Programme, to obtain a good impression of the Master Population Studies and the population issues covered

Application deadlines

Type of student Deadline Start course
Dutch students

15 January 2020

15 August 2020

01 February 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 € 14650 full-time
EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 2143 full-time

Job prospects

The Master Population Studies trains you to become a versatile demographer. As a demographer, you are competent in describing and analyzing both the population dynamics of different countries or regions and the demographic behavior of individuals or population groups. Also, you are an expert in predicting the likely demographic developments for the future.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the master program, you are capable of reflecting on how the context in which we live affects individual demographic behavior and leads to different population dynamics, which again has societal consequences. Individual demographic behavior and population dynamics are crucial to understanding because of their effects on the economy, the environment, social networks, social cohesion, health and healthcare, pension reforms and social security, family life, and wellbeing. Governments, for example, use demographic knowledge in their policy-making, for planning purposes (schools, housing, health care) or to identify potential problems. Also, in international development cooperation, demographic information is crucial. Demographers have a good understanding of contemporary societal problems and issues that affect people in their daily life.

During the program, we offer support for your career preparation.


The Master's thesis topics are integrated into the research theme of the Population Research Centre: “Population and Wellbeing in Context”. This comprises topics such as population decline, population aging, global migration, the life of migrants, healthy aging in society, families, households, residence, causes of death, child health, nutrition, access to health care, placemaking of elderly.

The master program clearly reflects the major characteristics of the research program by focussing on both the macro (population) and micro-level (the demographic behavior of people); by adopting multi-disciplinary perspectives (demography, epidemiology, anthropology, geography, social ageing, nutrition); by teaching both quantitative and qualitative research methods; by focusing on the translation of research into policies or interventions.

The students learn the theories, methods, and skills that the different teachers apply in their research. They participate in seminars and discussion groups in an active research environment including guest lectures and seminars by established professionals from other demographic institutions.

Part of the Master Programme is the participation in the Dutch Demography Day - a conference for demographers.

Featured researchers

  • Prof. Clara Mulder
  • Prof. Hinke Haisma
  • Prof. Fanny Janssen
  • Prof. Louise Meijering
  • Prof. Helga de Valk
  • Prof. Leo van Wissen
Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astr ... Read More

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astronaut and the first president of the European Central Bank. Geographically, the University is rooted in the Northern part of the Netherlands, a region very close to its heart. Read less
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