Master in Theology & Religious Studies (Research)


Program Description

The Master's programme Theology & Religious Studies: Research enables you to study a specialized area within theology or religious studies. Unique to this programme is that your religious convictions are the starting point of a journey, in which you will learn to critically develop your own worldview in dialogue with others. Next to compulsory courses, during your Research Master's programme you will enroll in a number of specializations in your field of interest. And, note, there is a lot of freedom in how you will finally organize your programme.

If God exists where is (S)he?
Does archaeology ‘support’ or ‘debunk’ the Bible?
Can a digital key to Hebrew grammar validate the Biblical narratives?
What are the historical roots of contemporary challenges such as the "migration crisis"?
What role do religions play in conflict and how can religion contribute to the overcoming of violence and help in reconciliation after conflict?

You want to get a scientifically justified answer to the questions like these? Are you fascinated by research and enjoy studying? Did you achieve excellent results for your Bachelor’s degree? Then this Research Master’s programme is perfect for you!


The Master's programme Theology & Religious Studies: Research offers specializations in a Thematic and in a Theological tradition, which are directly linked to research centers that are part of the faculty.

Study programme

The Master's programme Theology & Religious Studies: Research is a two-year programme (120 EC). The classes are scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The programme consists of in-depth training in specialized research and allows advanced studies in all major subdomains in theology and religious studies.

First year
The year starts with a course in Hermeneutics where this unique approach to theology and religious studies will be taught and exercised. You will also take two courses within your chosen specialization and do a research internship that provides insight into the chosen field of study. In addition, you will read two classical (theological) works together with students from other specializations.

Second year
In the second year, you will follow two courses in your specialization and one course of your own choice, further deepening and broadening your academic expertise. Furthermore, you will design a proposal for a PhD dissertation, or gain skills in writing an academic text relevant to your specific situation.

Career prospects

General opportunities
Many have used the programme to prepare themselves for research intensive jobs in professional fields such as:

  • researcher, policy advisor, and/or (speech) writer for research institutes, media, NGOs, or government at local, regional and national level;
  • education (at secondary as well as higher professional education level);
  • further specialization in coaching and spiritual care (for instance in health care and penitentiary system).

A gateway to doctorate research
The PhD programme, offered by the Graduate School of Religion and Theology at VU Amsterdam, could be the next logical step in your academic career.

After having completed this programme, many students start a PhD project at our university or elsewhere. Students who wish to pursue their theological or religious studies at a doctorate level are strongly advised to complete this Research Master's programme. If you graduate with consistently outstanding grades (an average of at least 8 out of 10), you will be eligible for acceptance into the doctoral programme at the university’s Graduate School of Religion and Theology.

Admission requirements

Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.

In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.

Specific admission requirements for the Master’s Programme Theology and Religious Studies

  • Students with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology or Religious Studies from a university abroad will only be admitted following an assessment of their degree by the admissions board. Your grade average needs to be equivalent to (or higher than) a 7.5 in the Dutch grading system.

You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a full high school or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. We require a TOEFL score (score 580 paper based, score 237 computer based or score 92 internet based) or an IELTS score of 6.5 overall band score. Cambridge English: Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C, or Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C.


If you have read the admission criteria and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.

Step 1: Meet admission criteria

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online
Please prepare the following documents. All documents should be provided in English.

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID only for EU residents)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Motivation Letter
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcript of records
  • Thesis (or another sample of academic writing, at least 5 pages plus a list of used literature)
  • A description of the relevant courses followed and literature used during your previous higher education

After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via e-mail.

Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!

Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!

Overview Theology & Religious Studies: Research

  • Language of instruction: English
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Application deadline: 1 June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.
  • Start date: 1 September
  • Study type: Full-time
  • Field of interest: Religion

Last updated Nov 2019

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 130 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. Read less