Master in Ecology


Program Description

Application deadline update

  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 May (the original deadline of 1 April has been extended due to COVID-19)
  • EU/EEA students and students who do not need a study visa/residence permit through VU Amsterdam*: 1 June (the original deadline of 1 May has been extended due to COVID-19)

Master in Ecology

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.


The Ecology and Evolution specialization is a combination of the former Ecology and Evolution programmes 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. To participate in this programme you need to be registered as an MSc Ecology student at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

The Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology is a new programme developed at the VU and UvA operating in the multidisciplinary fields of Ecology, Analytical Chemistry, Biology, Biomedical Sciences and Human Health Sciences. To participate in this programme you need to be registered as an MSc Ecology student at VU Amsterdam.

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

Career prospects

As a Master’s graduate in Ecology, you have a wide range of career options. The demand for ecologists is considerable these days. About 50 percent of our graduates continue their studies, pursuing a Ph.D. project. Others (10-15%) find jobs in applied environmental sciences and the remaining in societally related fields. They deal with topics like:

  • Nature management and restoration
  • Landscape planning
  • Plant breeding
  • Environmental consultancy

Some graduates work in policy preparation for government, water boards or NGO’s. Others are involved in the scientific communication or environment and nature education.

After graduation from the Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology programme, you will be able to analyze, understand and manage the risks of chemicals in the environment, allowing you to pursue a career in academia and non-profit organizations, private industry or chemical regulation.

Admission requirements

In addition to a Bachelor’s degree in Biology (or equivalent), students from countries outside the EU have to meet the following entrance requirements:

  • Average grades for classes on genetical, ecological, evolutionary and statistical subjects should be within the top 30%. (i.e., 7 or higher for Dutch grades, 14 or higher in the French system, B or A for USA or UK grades and 2 or 1 for German grades);
  • The period between the obtaining of the Bachelor’s degree and the start of the Master’s programme in Ecology should not be longer than five years, unless, according to the examination board the applicant has been able to maintain and update his/her knowledge sufficiently by taking additional courses or by working in the discipline.
  • The final decision for admission will be made based on the evaluation of these requirements in combination with a judgment of the scientific quality of the Bachelor’s programme of the applicant.

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.

  • In general, you can be admitted to the ’s programme 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.
  • Students with a Bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can be admitted to the Master’s programme in Ecology, provided that their Bsc programme includes the following elements:
    • Kust en mariene Ecosystemen, code 470203
    • Evolutionaire ecologie en gedrag, code 470074
    • Systeemecologie, code 470044
  • Students from HBO may be admitted to the Master's programme in Ecology on the basis of a decision by the Examination Board. The examination board will determine if a student is sufficiently qualified. It may pose additional requirements before granting admission to the programme. Depending on your HBO degree, students can cope with deficiencies by following a pre-master or a pre-master assessment.
  • English language proficiency requirements. VU Amsterdam requires international students to pass an English language proficiency test. The Master’s programme Ecology has special requirements concerning the subscores of the various languages tests.
  • 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.
Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,00 ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Curious about student life at VU Amsterdam? Click here to ask our International Student Ambassadors. Read less