Programme - Environmental Sciences

The MSc programme Environmental Sciences runs annually in two sessions, one beginning in September, and one in February. It comprises 120 ECTS credits and takes two academic years to complete. The first year consists of 40 weeks of coursework; the second year consists of the academic internship (16 weeks) and thesis programme (24 weeks) as the core components of the master’s degree curriculum. Each of these elements is described in more detail below.

Academic year

Wageningen University has six teaching periods per year. The first, the second and the fifth last eight weeks; the third and fourth last four weeks and the sixth lasts ten weeks. During an eight-week teaching period, students usually take two six-credit courses for six weeks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, followed by one week of independent study and one week for the scheduled interim examinations. During a four-week teaching period, students take a single six-credit course.


Course selection

The coursework consists of several compulsory core subjects, restricted optional subjects and optional subjects (electives) from any relevant MSc course offered at Wageningen University or another academic institution (subject to approval). This means that you can adjust your individual programme to your interests, wishes and needs, and choose between a specialisation or a more general arrangement of your programme. Thus, in consultation with your study adviser, your programme can be truly tailor-made. Within the MSc Environmental Sciences programme, you can major in one out of ten disciplines.

The common part

For the master's Environmental sciences the following course is compulsory (6 ECTS credits):

Besides, one out of the following three options has to be selected (12 ECTS credits): Additionally the following courses are compulsory unless your study advisor advises otherwise (in total 12 ECTS credits):

Furthermore several supporting courses are available which have to be taken if your study adviser deems it necessary:

Thesis tracks

You can specialise in the field of your interest by choosing one of the ten different thesis tracks. Each thesis track (major) has its own coursework curriculum. The curriculum can also differ between students depending on their preparatory training. The thesis track-related courses primarily serve to prepare you for your thesis research and internship. A course overview per thesis track can be found on the thesis track-specific pages.

Go to thesis tracks

Free choice

In the programme there is also room for optional subjects which you may use to broaden your scope or to deepen your knowledge on a topic of your specialisation.


The thesis (individual research) is part of your thesis track and consists of 24 weeks of research and writing (36 credits). The research is usually conducted under supervision of a staff member of one of the chair groups that are related to the programme. Students decide in consultation with the study adviser and thesis supervisor about the topic of their research. Usually this topic originates from subjects put forward by the chair group, by other institutes, or from the student's own research interests. Experimental thesis research requiring specialised equipment will usually be part of ongoing research programmes of Wageningen UR departments or research institutes.The research is concluded with a written thesis, which is graded by the supervisor together with another, independent staff member. The student also presents his/her results during a seminar ("colloquium").

Research quality

Evidently, research quality is of major concern for the thesis-oriented MSc programme Environmental Sciences.

Wageningen University is a specialised university that is internationally leading in its field of specialisation. The productivity, impact and excellence of its research give Wageningen University an excellent position in the field of "Agriculture and Environment Sciences". This is reflected in the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities (HEEACT). Since the introduction of this field-based bibliometric ranking in 2008, Wageningen University has consistently been leading all European universities. The latest 2016 ranking again shows Wageningen University being on the same level as the best American universities.


The compulsory internship consists of 24 ECTS credits of project work in an institution outside of Wageningen University. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with a unique learning opportunity to apply learned skills and concepts to a professional setting. The experience gained from the internship also serves to help students focusing on their area of interest, as well as building confidence and maturity in their field.


Whilst securing an internship is primarily a responsibility of the student, the internship coordinator will provide substantial assistance in finding a suitable position, ensuring that the work experience is relevant to the student's study programme. The internship may either be undertaken abroad or in the Netherlands. To receive credits for an internship, students must receive a satisfactory evaluation from both their internship (host) supervisor and supervisor within the MSc Environmental Sciences programme.

In the diagram you can see where MSc Environmental Sciences students spent their internship (based on figures from 2000-2004).



Depending on prior work experience, it may be possible for students to be exempted from the academic internship (24 ECTS credits). Such an exemption can only be granted on the basis of relevant work experience gained after obtaining the BSc degree.

If you would like to be exempted from the internship, you must indicate this on the application form. You must also provide a description of the duration and nature of your work experience following graduation.

Back to MSc Environmental Sciences