Study programme - MSc Molecular Life Sciences

The MSc programme Molecular Life Sciences takes two years of full-time study, worth a total of 120 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) points. The language of instruction is English. The programme consists of a common part, the specialization and free choice courses. Below, the three parts of the programme are briefly explained, and more details can be found in the study handbook of Wageningen University.

Outline of MSc Molecular Life Sciences

Unique in the Netherlands: the Research Master Cluster

The Research Master Cluster is aimed at students interested in pursuing an academic career, since it offers a kickstart on your PhD by writing a grant proposal. You will work under the supervision of a senior scientist, get all the information you need on doing a PhD, and practice presenting and defending your proposal. You will follow the course together with students from other master’s programmes, who will act as a scientific community.

Academic Consultancy Training and Modular Skills Training

The academic consultancy training (ACT) and modular skills training (MOS) courses are meant to give an insight into working in a business setting. The MOS modules give you the opportunity to brush up on some skills such as presenting, working in groups, writing a curriculum vitae, etc. It also offers the opportunity to learn new skills, for example management consulting, negotiating and philosophy. 

During the ACT course you have the opportunity to work on a project either for an external commissioner. During this project the aim is to combine academic insight and practical knowledge into advice on future actions for the commissioner. The teams in which you will perform the project consist of five to seven students with mixed backgrounds. To help you and your team develop into an academic consultancy group, a coach aided by reflection papers will be guiding you within this process.


For Dutch students it is possible to become a registered teacher in Chemistry or Physics (‘tweedegraads lesbevoegdheid’ Scheikunde of Natuurkunde) by replacing the specialization related internship with the education module. This track consists of educational courses and an education internship which will span over a half year. The teacher qualifications can be extended to full registered teacher (‘eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid’) by opting for the education master at the University of Utrecht or Radboud University Nijmegen. For more information, contact the study advisor.

Common Part

The start of the first year consists of two compulsory courses that serve as an introduction to the field of molecular life sciences. They are called From Molecule to Designer Material and Frontiers in Molecular Life Sciences. These courses kickstart your programme as you get to know your fellow students, and work intensively on interdisciplinary projects, guided by experienced researchers.

Later in the first year, you need to follow at least one research method course, which aim to provide hands-on experience with advanced and modern techniques in their respective fields of research. There are courses available on Biochemistry, Physical Chemistry, Microbiology, Biophysics, Organic Chemistry, Systems Biology, and Molecular Biology.

The last section of the common part is reserved for career preparation. There are two options to choose from, the Academic Consultancy Training and the Research Master Cluster. The first tasks students from various study programs of Wageningen University to work together and solve real life problems offered by organizations outside of the university. The latter offers students aiming for an academic career the opportunity to write a proposal for a PhD project.


There are four specializations possible within the programme, that each combine at least two fields of research. Contrary to many other universities, you can choose your specialization during your master instead of at your application to the programme. More information on the deepening courses and related research groups per specialization:

The MSc thesis forms the core of your specialization, reflected in the value of 36 ECTS. Your thesis will be part of the research of one of the chair groups of Wageningen University. You will be a full member of your research group, and by performing the thesis you will make your first steps towards becoming an independent researcher.

The internship completes your programme, and is an academic project of at least 24 ECTS, which can be performed anywhere in the world. There are many possibilities, ranging from projects at a university or research institute to working for a company. The internship offers the opportunity to practice your skills in a new environment, which is very valuable. Read more about the internship experiences of some of our current students.

Free Choice Courses

Besides the courses from the common part and the specialization, you can freely choose some other courses. These can be used to broaden or deepen your knowledge, depending on your wishes. You could follow more courses from your own or another specialization, an extra research method course or even courses from other master programmes. The choice is all yours.

Designing Your Programme

There is a lot of room for students to create their own tailor-made study programme, since you need to choose your own specialisation, research method course(s), career preparation, free choice courses, thesis, and internship. This can be overwhelming, so it is advised to consult your study advisor at the start of your MSc programme. Based on your previous experiences and your goals for the future, you can design a study plan together.