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Masters in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
2 years
Full time
Master's degree
On campus
01 September 2021
Virtual open day
Virtual open day

Program description

Masters in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Vast amounts of data have been collected through genomics initiatives. They provide a golden opportunity to research the secrets of life, to understand more of its complexities, to improve quality of life and to conquer major diseases. Converting this huge volume of data into real understanding is the basic challenge of Bioinformatics research. With the Master's programme in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at VU Amsterdam you become an expert in this field.

High-throughput methods like massively parallel sequencing and mass spectrometry generate more raw data than conventional computer models can handle efficiently. To process and analyse this data, computational techniques from Bioinformatics – such as sequence alignment, sequence assembly, biostatistics and machine learning – are required in order to make predictions about health outcome and to decide on a personalized treatment for the patient.

Both Bioinformatics and Systems Biology are strongly interdisciplinary fields. This programme combines molecular and cell biology, computer science and mathematical modelling to integrate vast amounts of biological data into fundamental knowledge. You will develop a strong feel for scientific research and high levels of abstraction, and learn to combine the rapid developments in these fields.

The Bioinformatics and Systems Biology program has been awarded the label ""Top Master"" in the 'Keuzegids 2017' of C.H.O.I. (Higher education information centre). The decision of granting this award is based on the ratings given by experts and students to the quality of the program.

Joint degree with UvA

Bioinformatics and Systems Biology is a joint degree programme of VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Courses are taught at locations of both universities. VU and UvA jointly issue a degree certificate to graduates. As a Bioinformatics and Systems Biology student in Amsterdam you benefit from expertise, networks and research projects at both universities and affiliated research institutes.

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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 the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Master’s programme, 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. Academic writing skill is to be demonstrated by submitting a thesis. We do not require a GRE or GMAT test score. A Bachelor degree obtained at an applied university or higher vocational education (HBO in Dutch) in most cases does not grant direct access to the programme (only exceptionally high ranking students stand a chance of admission).

Specific requirements for the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology master’s programme

  • Higher vocational education (HBO)
    If you hold a first degree from an institute of higher vocational education (Dutch HBO or equivalent), the subjects taken will determine your admission procedure. If your studies focused on bioinformatics and molecular biology subjects, you can generally join the Master’s programme without difficulty.
  • Students with an international preliminary education
    Admission to this Master’s programme is open to students with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree obtained at a university recognized by VU Amsterdam. The prospective student should have a thorough interest and experience in biomolecular and computational sciences. The multidisciplinary nature of the Master's programme in Bioinformatics means that it is open to motivated candidates with an appropriate qualification in most biology and science subjects. Depending on your specific background, it may be necessary for you to take a number of supplementary courses in biology, computer science or statistics to bring your knowledge in these areas up to standard.

General language proficiency requirements

VU Amsterdam requires international applicantsto take anEnglish testand to submit their score as a part of the application. Exceptions are made for students who have completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia.

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Program content

The programme is shared between VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam (UvA), combining the resources of two excellent universities.

You can choose to complete your programme either with a more theoretical focus on the computational aspects of systems biology and on bioinformatics, or with a more experimental training relevant to systems biology. However, all students will be provided with a programme that guarantees cross-over to such an extent that the succesful student can communicate with his colleagues irrespective of his focus on experimental or computational disciplines.

All students will get a basic introduction to biomathematics, biostatistics and programming. Aside from this, there are two tracks to choose from: Bioinformatics or Systems Biology, each with its own focus.

Scholarships & funding

With our own scholarship, the VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP), we offer highly motivated students with excellent study results the unique opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree with financial support provided by the university.

The VUFP scholarship is a tuition fee waiver. The Holland Scholarship Programme (HSP) is meant for students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to follow a Master’s programme in the Netherlands. VU Amsterdam embraces diversity as an enrichment to our teaching, research and our contribution to society. This scholarship is specifically intended for excellent students who contribute to the diversity at our campus. As an international student planning to study at VU Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries.

Tuition fees

  • Tuition fee for EU: € 1,084
  • Tuition fee for NON-EU/EEA: € 14,026


On completion of this program, students will receive a Masters in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Continuing studies

Our graduates are in great demand: every student has immediately found employment in industry or the academic world. The vast majority go on to work within the field (40%) and find a suitable job in the biotechnology, finance, banking or insurance industry. 
More than half of our students (60%) continues scientific research as a PhD student. Thanks to technological advances such as next generation sequencing and the development of personalized medicine career prospects will only improve.

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About this institute

Welcome to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (‘VU Amsterdam’) is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 175 English-taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to more than 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff...

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Why study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

With more than 24,000 students, of which 4,088 are international, VU Amsterdam conducts cutting-edge research into problems of societal and scientific importance.

They distinguish themselves in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes:

  • Human Health and Life Sciences
  • Science for Sustainability
  • Connected World
  • Governance for Society

As a student this will help you to look beyond the boundaries of scientific disciplines, and to seek for tangible solutions for a better world.

In addition, VU Amsterdam regards diversity, whether in culture, conviction, nationality or prior education, as source of innovation and progress, and hence as special strength.

The Dutch higher education system has been ranked in the top 10 by Universitas 21. In the first Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking, VU Amsterdam is ranked 16th worldwide. In this ranking, universities are assessed based on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to measure the impact of the universities on society. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 (Shanghai Ranking) VU Amsterdam holds the 104th position. The international QS World University ranking 2021 places the Vrije Universiteit at number 236 in the world, which means the Vrije Universiteit belongs to the top 20% of the world.

At VU Amsterdam, the teaching style can be described as student-centred: they encourage students to develop their own opinions through independent and creative thinking. This means that teaching is mainly conducted in small tutorials, where interactivity is the norm rather than the exception. At every opportunity, students are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue with their professors.

Contact info

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands, the

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