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Masters in Culture, Organization and Management

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Program overview
1 year
Full time
Master's degree
Start dates
16,630 EUR
September 2021

16,630 EUR
September 2022

16,630 EUR
September 2023

Program description

Masters in Culture, Organization and Management

Analyzing the culture of organizations and management

Organizations are hubs in society. They support social structures as well as mediate and channel social and cultural change. With today’s rapid globalization and changing cultural dynamics, inherent cultural bias, continuous change programmes, and underestimation of the cultural dimension can cause organizations to suffer serious economic and social consequences. The Master’s programme in Culture, Organization and Management (COM) teaches you to critically analyze organizational cultures and to develop creative solutions.

You will develop expertise in management styles, cultural diversity, organizational identity, cross-cultural co-operation, as well as national and international organizational processes. You will learn to combine anthropological and sociological approaches with research-based knowledge, and to apply the tools of cultural analysis to the workplace.

Best study programme

In the 2018 National Student Survey, our students rated the programme as the best in its field. Our students are particularly satisfied in the areas of pursuit of excellence, and teachers.

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Admission requirements

The Master’s degree programme inCulture, Organization & Managementis an international programme. To gain admission, you must hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university in Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Organization Science, Communication Science (from a Social Sciences perspective),  Organization Psychology, Social Psychology, or Business Administration. You must have had research methodology. Those who hold another degree (particularly in the Humanities) can be admitted if their study programme shows sufficient affinity (course content and research methodology). You also need an excellent working command of English.

How to apply

To apply for the 2018-2019 programme, you need to register inStudielink. Once you have completed your registration in Studielink, you will receive log in details for the portal in VUnet. You must complete your application in VUnet by uploading the following required documents:

  1. Certified copy of your original Bachelor’s degree certificate. The certified degree must be in English or be translated into English by your university or a sworn translator. If you have yet to obtain your degree, you can ask the registrar of your university to provide an official statement to the effect that your are certain to graduate before 1 September.
  2. A transcript of the grades you obtained in your Bachelor’s programme. The certified transcript must be in English or be translated into English by your university or by a sworn translator. If you have followed or are following a master’s programme and/or more than one bachelor’s programme, please include transcripts of all these programmes.
  3. A clearly legible copy of the page(s) in your passport (or ID-card if you are an EU student) that contain(s) your personal data. A copy of a passport / ID card that is no longer valid will not be accepted.
  4. A curriculum vitae, including your personal details, and listing your previous education and relevant work experience.
  5. A Bachelor's or Master's thesis (in English).Or if you have not finished your thesis yet, a sample of an academic writing in English (at least 10 pages in length). The writing sample should be relevant for the programme and clearly demonstrate your academic skills. We will check your sample for plagiarism as one of the first steps of the evaluation procedure.
  6. A description of the courses you have taken during your bachelor’s programme, you can either copy this from the study guide or type 5-10 sentences for each course yourself (written in English). Emphasize the ones that you think are relevant for the proposed Master Programme. If you have not yet graduated, please also include an overview of courses with course descriptions which you are following or going to follow before graduation.
  7. A letter of motivation (no more than 2 pages in length, in English). Also, if applicable, please specify in this letter, the name of the specialization you are applying for.

Application fee & deadlines

All students seeking admission to an international Bachelor’s or Master’s programme with an international degree are required to pay a non-refundable €100 application fee. Only after you have paid this fee will we be able to start the evaluation of your application file. If you are applying for more than one programme, you will only need to pay the application fee once. Your application fee payment is valid for two years.

Language requirements

To be admitted to the master’s programme all applicants must meet the following results in the English language test (no older than 2 years):

Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) at least C1 (proficient user), which means:

  • IELTS score with a minimum of 6.5.
  • TOEFL score paper based test: 580.
  • TOEFL score computer based test: 237.
  • TOEFL score internet based test: 92.
  • VU TOEFL-ITP: 580 (only valid for VU Amsterdam)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): A or B.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): A, B or C.

IELTS = test given by the British International English Language Testing Service.
TOEFL = American Test of English as a foreign Language.

Exemptions from the language test requirements are granted in the following cases:

  • If your bachelor's or master's diploma was obtained in an English-language university programme in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK or USA.
  • If your bachelor's or master's diploma was obtained in an English-taught programme at a Dutch university.
  • If your bachelor's or master's diploma was obtained in an English-taught programme in a different EU-country.

Please note that the options for taking this test are limited, especially during the summer holidays. Remember to upload the result of your test as soon as possible, but at the latest June 1st (for non-EEA students) or August 31st (for EEA students).

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Program content

The programme in short

  • You will learn to critically analyze conventional organization and management practices
  • You will look at organizations from an interdisciplinary and cultural perspective
  • You will receive intensive training in analytical writing
  • You will interact with engaged instructors who are keen to support you both academically and professionally
  • You will conduct three months of fieldwork to develop an understanding of organizations from the bottom up and inside out
  • You will write a Master’s thesis based on your fieldwork 

Programme structure

During the first semester, you will participate in seminars that teach you the contemporary theories on organizational culture and complex cultural processes that influence organizations and society. You will gain in-depth knowledge of qualitative research methods such as qualitative interviewing, participant observation, being a ‘fly on the wall’ and discursive analysis. All are key to the ethnographic approach of this programme. Throughout the first semester, you also will work on completing your research proposal for your fieldwork.

In addition, you will choose two out of three elective courses:

  • Culture and Identity in Organizations
  • Changing Organizational Culture
  • Transnational Organizations in a Global World

In the second semester, you will put your knowledge into practice by conducting three months of fieldwork research. During your fieldwork, you will gather empirical data for your Master’s thesis. You will conclude the semester with the writing of your thesis, under the guidance of your supervisor.

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

  • EU-EER students fee: € 2,168
  • NON-EU students fee: € 16,630


MSc in Culture, Organization & Management

Continuing studies

When you graduate from the Master’s programme in Culture, Organization and Management, you will be well qualified for a variety of international jobs in a wide array of sectors.

What types of jobs can you get?

Almost all organizations these days are continuously engaged in processes of change. This programme will give you the knowledge and skills to analyze organizational change and to formulate creative solutions. Our graduates are in high demand at major corporations, and the non-profit and public sectors are increasingly pursuing our graduates, specifically for interdisciplinary teams.

If you want to pursue an academic career, this programme’s strong fieldwork and research focus provide excellent preparation for a PhD.

Where do our alumni work?

Many of our graduates become consultants. Others obtain positions with corporations as commercial officers (e.g. in customer relations), HRM officers (e.g. in recruitment), or policy supports officers (e.g. in internal communications).

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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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