Master in Marine Sciences


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Seas and oceans play an important role in our day-to-day lives, and over 65% of the world’s population lives or works in coastal areas. Vital for our economy and health – as well as for climate, food, and biodiversity – seas and oceans have immense societal significance. However, the oceans are changing rapidly as human-induced pollution and CO2 emissions lead to warming, acidification, and deoxygenation of seas and oceans. The impact on organisms, ocean chemistry, and currents on short to long timescales is uncertain, affecting ecosystems, but also the economy and policymaking.

As part of your two-year Master’s programme in Marine Sciences, you will learn how marine systems and processes operate naturally – and how they change through human intervention. The programme offers multidisciplinary cutting-edge knowledge and research in this rapidly developing field.

Diverse community of students

If you are a science student with an educational background in biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science, this programme offers the perfect preparation for a career as a marine scientist. Students with a Bachelor's degree in another natural science or technical discipline and students from University Colleges who would like to contribute to the sustainable use of sea and ocean resources are also invited to apply.

Multidisciplinary approach

Essentially, all outstanding issues in Marine Sciences are multidisciplinary. A broad, holistic research approach to this rapidly developing field is, therefore, necessary to identify risks, improve future scenarios, and to make the transition towards sustainable interactions between man and seas and oceans.

Crucial questions you will investigate during your studies include:

  • How does global warming and changing ocean circulation impact ecosystem functioning?
  • How do changing ecosystems affect ocean chemistry?
  • How does a change in ocean chemistry affect biology?

Marine science research expertise

Utrecht University has the most extensive in-house expertise in marine sciences of all Dutch universities, and our staff participates in numerous international marine programmes and projects. The multidisciplinary focus of the programme will prepare you for a challenging career in a wide range of international organisations that are active in coastal areas and oceans and in harnessing society for future ocean change.

Programme Objective

The Marine Sciences Master’s programme will enable you to gain a broad understanding of marine systems but also specialise in the physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes taking place in seas and oceans. You will investigate how seas and oceans functioned in the past, are functioning at present and will function in the future.

You will explore issues such as energy and climate change, mining, pollution, the flow of traffic at sea, fisheries policies, and coastal defences. Examining the consequences of these themes – such as the fact that the disappearance of the Arctic’s summer ice cap will allow drilling for oil and gas – requires a multidisciplinary approach.

Career Prospects

As a Utrecht University Marine Sciences graduate you will be able to work in a highly specialised research field. You will also be equipped with a complete set of skills to work in diverse positions in organisations focussing on marine processes in the public or private sectors. This Master’s programme also provides a solid basis for a PhD if your ambition is to become an independent scientific researcher.

Professional Careers

Job opportunities in the private sector may be at companies focussing on hydrocarbon and mineral exploration and production or offshore and other engineering firms or consultancies. You may also find employment at international organisations that are active in coastal areas and oceans, such as the United Nations. Possible opportunities include:

Dutch government authorities

  • Rijkswaterstaat (Public Works and Water Management)
  • ministries such as Infrastructure and the Environment


  • The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)
  • TNO
  • Deltares
  • IMARES Research Institute
  • The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL)
  • The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
  • The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)
  • Similar international organisations

Academic Careers

A large proportion of our graduates follow their Master’s degree by pursuing a PhD in the Netherlands or elsewhere and ultimately a career in either applied or fundamental research. Fundamental research opportunities are available at universities in the Netherlands and internationally. The research may entail field, laboratory, and deskwork (such as computer modelling).

Alumni Survey

In 2017, Dimensus conducted an employability survey amongst ‘Earth Sciences’ alumni. The survey shows that graduate employability is high: 87% of participants have successfully found a first relevant job within six months after graduation. Most participants now work in the field of consultancy (38%), and academic and company research (41%). The majority of participants have a current monthly net income that ranges from 1500 to 2500 euros (62%), or 2500 to >3500 euros (30%).

Last updated May 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less