Master in Neurosciences


Program Description

Learn about the brain's complexity

Keep your head cool
Brain disorders, in particular neurodegenerative diseases and mental illnesses, are among the most prevalent and debilitating diseases of our time. They are typically caused by the interplay of environmental factors and genetic variation in multiple genes, which is currently being mapped by major international initiatives. Future brain research should therefore focus on integrative projects as a next step in characterizing this complex environmental/genetic interplay and in revealing how it translates into brain function and/or disease. To succeed, we need a new generation of neuroscientists capable of integrating information from genes and proteins to synapses, and from networks up to complex brain function and dysfunction. Are you ready for the challenge?

Study programme

We provide students with the knowledge, skills and insight they need to operate as a professional within the field of neurosciences. An independent professional that will be a suitable candidate for a PhD position. Having completed the programme, you will have developed a critical scientific approach and an awareness of the ethical and societal aspects of neurosciences.

The programme in a nutshell
The Master’s in Neurosciences is a two-year, full-time programme. Teaching comprises lectures, research seminars, work groups, demonstrations, lab visits and practicals. For more details, see the Study guide:

First year
The first year consists of compulsory courses, to give you a thorough grounding in relevant disciplines. These courses are followed by a 5-month internship. You will have a wide range of internship opportunities to choose from, within Amsterdam Neuroscience and affiliated institutes.

Second year (research specialization)
The second year starts with 4 electives, to expand your knowledge of certain areas. We have constructed two tracks, which give you a perfect start as a researcher in a particular field of neurosciences.

You can choose one of the following tracks, each consisting of 4 courses:

  • Fundamental Neurosciences
  • Clinical and Translational Neurosciences

In addition, to these tracks, you can compose your own set of 4 optional courses.
During the last five months of the programme you carry out your second internship. The programme encourages you to complete your second traineeship outside VU Amsterdam, and if possible, at an institute abroad.

Career prospects

The vast majority (70%) of graduates of the Master’s programme in Neurosciences go on to join a PhD programme either at VU Amsterdam or at another academic institute in the Netherlands or abroad. A PhD will prepare you for

  • a top position at a university
  • a research institute such as the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
  • or in the corporate sector, with companies such as Philips and Janssen Pharmaceutica

Postgraduate degree programmes
The master degree gives access to a number of PhD degree programmes at VU Amsterdam or elsewhere.

PhD degree programmes
PhD programmes are organized within a number of research schools within the faculty:

  • Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam Rotterdam (ONWAR)

The PhD programme always consists of carrying out a research project leading to a PhD thesis/dissertation, and of several compulsory or elective course modules.

Why VU Amsterdam?

Leading professionals
Our senior teaching staff members are internationally respected members of the scientific community. The professional environment we provide is strengthened by bringing all areas of expertise together in the Amsterdam Neuroscience.

Integration of disciplines
The Master’s programme in Neurosciences at the VU Amsterdam is a joint initiative of the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences and the Amsterdam UMC (VU Medical Center).

The programme is embedded in Amsterdam Neuroscience and thereby offers you the chance to integrate the full range of neuroscience disciplines.

You will study facets of neurosciences ranging from genes to behaviour, from both fundamental and clinical perspectives. In our year schedule we have constructed two tracks, each designed to give you the perfect start as a researcher in a particular field of neurosciences.

Top-level exchange programme
In addition to the mainstream Master's in Neurosciences, there is also a top-level Master’s exchange programme, which is only open to outstanding and highly motivated students.

International orientation
The Master’s programme in Neurosciences is a partner in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s programme in Neuroscience, which includes Bordeaux (France), Göttingen and Berlin (Germany) and Quebec (Canada).

All of these partners are centers of excellence in neuroscience, with a proven track record of close collaboration.

Admission and application

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. If you have read the admission criteria below 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

In order to gain admission to one of or 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. We do not require a GRE or GMAT test score.

Specific admission requirements for the MSc Neurosciences programme:

To be considered for admission to the Master’s programme in Neurosciences you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Hold an academic Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Biomedical Sciences, or Psychology with a Biological Psychology or Neuropsychology profile. If you hold a BSc degree in a closely related discipline (e.g. Movement Sciences, Artificial Intelligence or Medicine) you are also eligible to apply
  2. Have good grades: A minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 7.5 (or international equivalent, e.g. a B+, or a GPA of 3.4); and a minimum grade of 8 (or international equivalent, e.g. an A, or a GPA of 4.0), for both the Bachelor’s thesis and neuroscience-related courses.
  3. Possess well-developed academic skills including writing and presenting abilities, the ability to evaluate and apply knowledge, and the ability to engage in critical thinking.
  4. Have an active interest in neuroscience research and have clear ideas about a future career in neuroscience.

If the information in your application indicates that you meet the admission requirements, you will be invited for an interview. The final decision for admission to the first year of the Master’s programme in Neurosciences will be based on a judgment of your motivation revealed during this interview. In all cases, decisions will be made within 6 weeks after submission of your complete application.

Only in exceptional circumstances may we deviate from the specific admission requirements. If you believe your case is subject to such exceptional circumstances, then please explain so in your letter of application.


In case you wish to contact the Master's coordinator for information or advice you need to know that no rights can be derived from the reply given by the coordinator regarding your admission. Only with the “admission email” you will be officially notified about your conditional or unconditional admission.

Language Requirements

VU Amsterdam also requires international applicants to take an English test. You can, however, begin your application without having the test results. Please be aware of the fact that it can take a long time to receive the results of English proficiency tests, so plan your test on time! In case you haven’t taken a test yet, we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Deadlines for submitting the test results are as follows:

Students who require a visa: June 1

Students who do not require a visa: August 30

Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the Neurosciences programme:

IELTS (academic):
Minimum Overall Band Score 6,5
- Minimum Sub-score Listening 6,0
- Minimum Sub-score Reading 6,0
- Minimum Sub-score Writing 6,5
- Minimum Sub-score Speaking 6,0

Paper-based test; 580
- Minimum Sub-score Structure/Written Expression: 59

Internet-based test; 92
- Minimum Sub-score Reading 18
- Minimum Sub-score Listening 19
- Minimum Sub-score Speaking 19
- Minimum Sub-score Writing 24

Cambridge English:
Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C
Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C

Copies of your English test results can be sent to the following addresses:

  • For Dutch degree holders:
  • For non-Dutch degree holders:

Please refer to the Language Requirements webpage for the general requirements regarding language proficiency.

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online

Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (only for EU residents)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Letter of Motivation
  • Transcript (Provide a certified translation if it is not in English)
  • A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education
  • A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education
  • Thesis (or another sample of academic writing)
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
Specific requirements for the application documents for Neurosciences:
  • The letter of motivation (a maximum of two pages) should include:
    1) Why you want to pursue a career in neurosciences;
    2) Why you choose to study Neurosciences at VU Amsterdam.
  • Your recommendation letters must be written by qualified persons; for instance the supervisor of your Bachelor thesis or coordinator of major Bachelor courses.
  • If you have obtained a Master’s degree already, also upload your Master’s diploma and transcript of records.

You can find all general information on admission and application to Master's programmes here. Once you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email.

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 are admitted, 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. When all conditions of your admission have been met, you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!

Overview Neurosciences.

  • Language of instruction: English
  • Application deadline: 1 June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students. Non Dutch EU/EEA students with an international degree who do not need housing services through VU Amsterdam can still apply until 1 June
  • Start date: 1 September
  • Study type: Full-time
  • Specializations: Fundamental Neurosciences, Clinical and Translational Neurosciences.
  • Field of interest: Health and Movement

Last updated Oct 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 over ... 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 over 26,000 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