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Masters in Computational Science (Joint Degree)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Program overview
2 years
Full time
Master's degree
Virtual open day
Virtual open day
Start dates
September 2022

September 2023

September 2024

Program description

Masters in Computational Science (Joint Degree)

Is computation science the study for you?

Would you like to confront a tornado in virtual reality and predict its path of destruction? Or understand the behaviour of financial markets? What if you could simulate the outcome of a surgical procedure before it is used on a patient? Or predict how a crowd would behave in the event of a disaster?

What is computational science?

Computational Science seeks to explain the complex world we live in using technological simulations. By collecting data and creating computer models, computational scientists can make predictions on varying problems such as how to influence the flow of traffic, how an epidemic will spread or the probability of individuals in society becoming addicted to drugs. The curriculum relies heavily on algorithmic-driven procedures (step-by-step procedure for solving a problem in a limited number of steps), but also involves lots of mathematics and logic. Students will learn to apply this knowledge to different research areas in the natural sciences.

In the Master's you will learn:

  • to build computational models from real-life observations;
  • to develop skills in turning these models into computational structures and perform large-scale simulations;
  • theory that gives you a firm basis for the analysis of complex simulations;
  • to analyse the results of your simulations in a virtual laboratory using advanced numerical algorithms;
  • to control the power of the largest supercomputers.

To achieve these goals, you will have access to some of the most advanced computing, networking, storage and visualization facilities in the world. When completing the programme, you graduate in one of the many domains Computational Science has to offer, such as Computational Finance, Computational Biology, Numerical Mathematics or Complex Networks.

Joint degree programme with University of Amsterdam

This is a joint degree programme of theUniversity of Amsterdamand VU Amsterdam. Courses are given at the two Faculties of Science. Graduates receive a diploma accredited by both universities. Therefore, as a Computational Science student you benefit from the expertise, networks and research projects at both universities.

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Admission requirements

Direct admission is possible with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. If you hold a Bachelor’s degree in a related subject, you can be admitted with some additional requirements on which the Master’s coordinator of the desired specialisation decides. The programme provides opportunities to fill specific gaps in your knowledge.

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Program content

Three types of courses

  1. The core courses reflect the central body of knowledge in Computational such as modelling, simulation, and computing. Students should study a substantial part of the topics offered in the core.
  2. The constrained choices offer breadth and depth, allowing students to either deepen their knowledge on core topics or broaden their scope.
  3. Finally, electives offer students the option to take courses in application domains. These are especially intended for students who would like to do a research graduation project in one of the application domains as described below.

The first year
The first year is dedicated to core Computational Science courses covering computing & algorithms, modelling & simulation, massive-data processing and multidisciplinary collaboration.

During the first year, you can choose between different core courses for each study block. In most blocks, two core courses are available, of which you can choose one. You may also opt to take both core courses that are offered in a block. The constrained choiceand electives courses are in addition to your core courses and can be chosen freely from an extensive list. The constrained choice courses are needed to obtain the required 60 EC for the first year.

The second year
The second year is dedicated to elective courses and the Master's project.  The electives provide opportunity to deepen your knowledge of core concepts in Computational Science. Electives are selected to obtain a specialty in Computational Science or the different application domains, such as Finance & Economics, Biology & Bioinformatics, Numerical Mathematics and Earth Sciences.

The electives help you prepare for the Master's project. The Master's project will be conducted in a scientific group at in one of the universities in Amsterdam, but could also take place at institutes at the Science Park, such as CWI, NIKHEF, AMOLF, AMC and the NKI, outside Amsterdam or abroad. Often students who choose Finance & Economics will do their Master's project at a financial institute such as 'de Nederlandse Bank'. The Master's project must be a scientific project with potential to complement the existing body of knowledge in Computational Science.

Graduation in different domains
Not only do you graduate with knowledge of the core concepts of Computational Science like complex network simulation, but you can also specialise in one of the application domains, such as Computational Biology or Computational Finance. You can use the electives to take specific courses in application domains and perform your research in helping solving domain-specific problems in collaboration with domain experts.

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


MSc in Computational Science

Continuing studies

Graduates of Computational Science are highly valued because of their skills and knowledge in this new field of science. They are ready to start a career in any research environment where computation is the core business. Here are some examples of what you can end up doing after graduation:

Vladislav Sergeev MSc Grid Computing-Computational Science (2006). Current Position: Quantitative Analyst, Financial Markets department, ING Bank.

“My interest in computational problems faced by financial industry has been triggered by a course in Computational Finance.  Doing graduation work on a topic of option valuation with PDEs, combined with a few optional courses from the Econometrics department of the UvA, was a natural way forward. Without a doubt, the training received at the UvA has paved the way to a career where I can freely steer between quantitative finance and software engineering. Be it development of an automated option trading platform, a financial engineering position in a risk management consultancy or quant development in a large bank, my confidence is rooted in the solid foundation of my MSc years.”

Johann de Jong MSc Grid Computing-Computational Science Current position: PhD student The Netherlands Cancer Institute

“My research focuses on transposons and retroviruses. These are pieces of genetic material that can integrate themselves into the DNA of a host cell. The goal is to predict where integrations will occur, how active they will be, and how they influence their environment (the 'chromatin'). I use very large ('genome-wide') datasets describing the chromatin, and techniques mainly derived from machine learning and statistics. The study of transposons and retroviruses is of great importance for cancer research and the safety of gene therapy, and more generally to gain new insights into gene regulation.”

Future in Science

In addition, many of our students go on to join a research group and pursue a PhD, whether in Amsterdam or abroad.

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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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