Master in Drug Innovation


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The Dutch Master's Selection Guide (Keuzegids Masters 2017) ranked this programme as the best in the field of Chemistry in the Netherlands.

Drug Innovation is about:

  • Developing new drugs to combat drug-resistant microorganisms;
  • Using gene or protein technologies to create therapies targeted at individual patients;
  • Finding a way to imprint the immune system to increase tolerance;
  • Exploring the relationship between gut microbes and brain disease;
  • Learning how to use proteomics to study stem cell development;
  • Reducing the side effects of treatment by finding new ways to deliver drugs directly into the tumor;
  • Updating and speeding up the drug regulatory process.

The Master’s in Drug Innovation programme focuses on diagnostics and the improvement and management of small molecule and biomolecular drugs. Drug innovation covers many topics such as the development of new vaccines and the study of antibodies, gene therapeutics, and medical nutrition. Once developed, a new drug then needs to go through approval, which raises a whole new set of challenges, for example, the establishment of new methods and criteria for evaluating the quality, efficacy, safety, and performance of the drug.

Interdisciplinary Programme

This broad, interdisciplinary programme is open to graduates from a wide range of disciplines such as chemistry, biology, pharmaceutical sciences, biomedical sciences, or medicine.

Many Elective Courses

Our programme offers a diverse suite of elective courses. This means you can concentrate on the topics of most interest to you. You will also take an internship with one of the research teams working on drug innovation at Utrecht University. This work may lead to publication in scientific journals within the field or new drug patents or protocols.

Graduates of this programme may go on to undertake research in drug innovation at universities, in the pharmaceutical or and biotechnology industry or to work in science or healthcare.

Programme Objective

Drug innovation is an interdisciplinary field, which pulls together expertise from chemical, biological and medical sciences. This interdisciplinarity is central to the search for new solutions to currently incurable diseases. You will contribute to this field by undertaking two internships over a total of 15 months and submitting a writing assignment.


After graduation, you will have the skills needed to translate a drug-related problem into a relevant research question and will also be able to design and perform the research needed to solve this question. Finally, you will also be able to critically reflect on your own research and report on it, both verbally and in writing. These skills are highly transferable and will enable you to work independently within a competitive labor market.


  • Experimental Pharmacology
  • Drug Regulatory Sciences

Career Prospects

Graduates with an MSc in Drug Innovation will be eligible for many PhD programmes. As soon as you graduate with a PhD, and if you want to pursue for a career in academia, you can aim for a post-doctoral fellowship. After that, you can then opt for either an assistant, associate, or full professorship role, which occurs mostly through tenure tracks. You can also choose to contribute to drug innovation within research institutes, any of the growing number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (ranging from small start-up to ‘big pharma’), or health care organisations. After completing the Drug Regulatory Sciences profile, you can find jobs in regulatory affairs, often even without a PhD programme. Other opportunities in the same institutes or companies include careers in business, administration and education.

Academic careers

About 66% of the MSc graduates aims for a PhD programme. This is divided into 30% of the PhDs that stay in Utrecht, 19% that prefer other universities in the Netherlands, while 17% opt for international universities like Cornell University, Oxford University, Imperial College London and others. PhD graduates either wish to find a career in academia or they want to prepare for positions in institutes or industry.

Professional careers

About 30% of Drug Innovation students choose a profile in Communication and Education, Science and Business, or Drug Regulatory Sciences. They go on to pursue a career within research-intensive institutes and professionalise further in, for example, management, teaching, communications, or find employment in drug evaluation boards and health care (e.g. industrial regulatory affairs, clinical research, or policymaking).

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry is one of the most research-intensive industries, allocating up to 20% of budgets to R&D. This means that Drug Innovation students with an additional PhD degree have excellent job prospects. Working in industry without a PhD degree is possible but occurs only occasionally.

Recent data show that approximately 9% students choose a career in industry after their Master’s Drug Innovation. Others seek a career as a clinical research associate (7%), a consultant (4%), in government (4%), or as a teacher (2%).

After graduation as an MSC in Drug Innovation

PhD programmes
  • Utrecht University 30%
  • Dutch universities 19%
  • International universities 17%
Other careers
  • Industry 9%
  • Clinical research associate 7%
  • Consultant 4%
  • Government 4%
  • Teacher 2%

International Students

Learning Dutch

If you want to find a job or internship in the Netherlands, knowing Dutch will get you places. Even if you work within an international organisation, knowing at least some Dutch is always a benefit and in some cases even a requirement. In order to learn Dutch, free language websites such as or can get you started or take a look at the Dutch courses offered by Babel. As a student from Utrecht University, you receive a 25% discount on their course offerings.

After graduation

If you want to stay in the Netherlands after your graduation, you can apply for the ‘residence permit orientation year’. This permit can be submitted within 3 years after completing your studies and allows you unlimited working rights (hence: a work permit –TWV- is not required). For an overview of the conditions that apply for this permit, please visit the IND website.

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