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Create new medicines from a chemical perspective

Are you interested in looking into the early drug discovery process from a chemical and molecular perspective? And fascinated by the idea of developing new pharmacological therapies and medicines?

Then the Master’s in Drug Discovery Sciences is the programme for you. Check whether you meet the admission requirements and find out how to apply.

Check whether you meet the programme requirements and apply

  • I have a Dutch university level (WO) Bachelor’s degree (VU Bachelor’s degree, VU pre-master's or Bachelor’s degree at another university)

    In order to gain admission to the Drug Discovery Sciences 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. We do not require a GRE or GMAT test score. 

    The Master’s programme in Drug Discovery Sciences is open to students:

    • with a Bachelor's degree in VU Pharmaceutical Sciences / Pharmacochemistry; 
    • with a Bachelor's degree in VU Chemistry; 
    • who have followed a similar programme at another university*; 
    • with sufficient knowledge of the English language (level of Dutch VWO-examination).

    Important: all prospective Drug Discovery Sciences students without a BSc in VU Pharmaceutical Sciences may be required to have an intake interview to check eligibility for admission with the admission board. You will receive an invitation if this is required. If an interview takes place, you should be prepared to reflect on the grades and laboratory skills you obtained in your BSc programme, most notably for those courses relevant for the master specialisation chosen. You are expected to show research experience of essential relevance for the chosen master specialization. Furthermore, the material highlighted in the matrix should be mastered at bachelor end-level. Without the approval of the admission board you cannot be admitted to the Master's programme.

    Apply for the Master's programme via Studielink and complete your application in your personal VU dashboard. After we have received the requested documents, the admission board will decide whether you can be invited for the intake interview. Please note that you cannot do the intake interview before your application is complete.

    *Similar relevant programmes need to cover the required knowledge stated below for students to be eligible in the Master's programme in Drug Discovery Sciences. 

    Mastering of the material highlighted in the matrix is judged by grade(s) obtained for key courses in the respective field. The Master’s coordinator will determine if you meet these requirements.

    1. Biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and pharmacology, including techniques such as protein expression, purification, mutagenesis. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbooks Essential Cell Biology (Alberts et al.), chapters 1-16, and Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry (Patrick), chapters 1-18.

    2. Pharmacokinetics, enzyme kinetics and pharmaceutical toxicology. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Pharmacology (Rang & Dale), chapters 1-10 & 21-26.

    3. Analytical chemistry, including techniques such as HPLC, spectrophotometry, fluorimetry, NMR, mass spectrometry. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Quantitative Chemical Analysis (Harris), chapters 1-10, 17-25.

    4. Organic chemistry, including practical laboratory experience with organic chemical techniques. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Organic Chemistry (Clayden et al.), chapters 1-30.

    5. Physical chemistry. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences. Peter Atkins and Julio de Paula, chapters 1-4.

    Additional admission requirements specialisations

    For the different specializations there are different requirements for the amount of knowledge (+) in the above-mentioned fields, as indicated below. 

    Track12345
    Molecular Pharmacology++++
    +
    Molecular Toxicology++++++
    Synthesis of Drugs+
    ++++
    Computer-Aided Drug Design+

    +++
    Bioanalytics+++++

  • I have a Dutch higher vocational education (HBO) Bachelor’s degree (pre-master's)

    A Bachelor degree obtained at a (Dutch) applied university* in some cases also grants access to the programme. 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).

    Important: prospective Drug Discovery Sciences students may be required to have an intake interview to check eligibility for admission with the admission board. You will receive an invitation if this is required. If an interview takes place, you should be prepared to reflect on the grades and laboratory skills you obtained in your BSc programme, most notably for those courses relevant for the master specialisation chosen. You are expected to show research experience of essential relevance for the chosen master specialization. Furthermore, the material highlighted in the matrix should be mastered at bachelor end-level.  Without the approval of the admission board you cannot be admitted to the Master's programme.

    Apply for the Master's programme via Studielink and complete your application in your personal dashboard on vu.nl. After we have received the requested documents, the admission board will decide whether you can be invited for the intake interview. Please note that you cannot do the intake interview before your application is complete.

    Proof of sufficient proficiency in English

    VU Amsterdam requires international applicants and students with a HBO degree, to take an English language test and 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 or who have obtained an international Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma.

    Pre-master's assessment for HBO graduates

    If you are an HBO graduate, you do not have to take a pre-master's assessment to get admission to the Master's programme in Drug Discovery Sciences. Instead, the admission board will judge your admissibility based on your transcript. If an interview takes place, you should be prepared to reflect on the grades and laboratory skills you obtained in your BSc programme, most notably for those courses relevant for the master specialisation chosen. You are expected to show research experience of essential relevance for the chosen master specialization. Furthermore, the material highlighted in the matrix should be mastered at bachelor end-level.  Without the approval of the admission board you cannot be admitted to the master programme. 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). An English language test is required. If you fulfill all requirements, the Master's coordinator will give you a declaration stating that you do not need to take the pre-master's assessment. Send in this declaration with your application form. 

    *Similar relevant programmes need to cover the required knowledge stated below for students to be eligible in the Master Drug Discovery Sciences. 

    Mastering of the material highlighted in the matrix is judged by grade(s) obtained for key courses in the respective field. The Master’s coordinator will determine if you meet these requirements.

    1. Biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and pharmacology, including techniques such as protein expression, purification, mutagenesis. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbooks Essential Cell Biology (Alberts et al.), chapters 1-16, and Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry (Patrick), chapters 1-18.

    2. Pharmacokinetics, enzyme kinetics and pharmaceutical toxicology. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Pharmacology (Rang & Dale), chapters 1-10 & 21-26.

    3. Analytical chemistry, including techniques such as HPLC, spectrophotometry, fluorimetry, NMR, mass spectrometry. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Quantitative Chemical Analysis (Harris), chapters 1-10, 17-25.

    4. Organic chemistry, including practical laboratory experience with organic chemical techniques. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Organic Chemistry (Clayden et al.), chapters 1-30.

    5. Physical chemistry. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences. Peter Atkins and Julio de Paula, chapters 1-4.

    Additional admission requirements specialisations

    For the different specializations there are different requirements for the amount of knowledge (+) in the above-mentioned fields, as indicated below. 

    Track12345
    Molecular Pharmacology++++
    +
    Molecular Toxicology++++++
    Synthesis of Drugs+
    ++++
    Computer-Aided Drug Design+

    +++
    Bioanalytics+++++

    Language requirements

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam requires international students and students with a HBO degree to pass an English language proficiency test. This requirement can be met if no longer than two years before the start of the programme the applicant has successfully completed one of the following examinations with the minimum scores indicated:

    Exceptions are made for students who:

    • have obtained a Dutch vwo-diploma including English, or an International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma
    • have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a Dutch university,
    • have completed previous education in Canada, Ireland, UK, USA, Australia or New Zealand.

    Visit the Language Requirements webpage for the general requirements regarding language proficiency.

    Copies of your English test results can be sent to the following address: toelating.beta@vu.nl.

  • Application with a Dutch degree

    Enthusiastic about this programme? And do you meet the admission requirements? Find out how to apply.

    The application deadlines are:

    • 1 February for international students applying for one of the VU scholarships
    • 1 April for non-EU/EEA students*
    • 1 June for non-Dutch EU/EEA students
    • 1 June for holders of a Dutch bachelor’s degree (with a Dutch or EU/EEA nationality)

    *non-EU/EEA students who do not need a study visa and/or a residence permit can still apply until 1 June

    Required documents 

    This Master’s programme requires students with a Dutch bachelor's degree to upload the following documents on VUweb. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page for international students.

    • Copy of your valid passport or ID (only for EU residents)
    • Motivation letter*
    • CV*
    • Transcript of the marks obtained during the Bachelor's programme*
    • HBO students need to send in an English language test result
    • All prospective Drug Discovery Sciences students must have an intake interview to check eligibility for admission with the Master's coordinator. After you have uploaded all the required documents, please contact the Master's coordinator of your specialization. You can find the contact information below, under the header Contact & Information Days.

    For documents marked with an *, these need to be uploaded before the application deadline mentioned above. If one or more of these documents are missing, the application cannot be assessed by the Admission Board. Documents submitted after the application deadline will not be accepted.

  • I have an international degree

    The Drug Discovery Sciences programme is open to both Dutch and international students. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.

    In order to gain admission to the Drug Discovery Sciences 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. 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 Drug Discovery Sciences Master’s programme

    You can gain direct admission to the Master's programme Drug Discovery Sciences with a Bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences or Chemistry. If you hold another Bachelor's degree with life science and chemistry components, it is possible that you will first be required to first bring your knowledge up to standard in a number of areas, depending on both the specialization in your Bachelor's and the Drug Discovery Sciences specialization you apply for. The decision on how you should compensate for any gaps in your knowledge will be taken in consultation with the Master's coordinator of your specialisation.

    Important: prospective Drug Discovery Sciences students may be required to have an intake interview to check eligibility for admission with the admission board. You will receive an invitation if this is required. If an interview takes place, you should be prepared to reflect on the grades and laboratory skills you obtained in your BSc programme, most notably for those courses relevant for the master specialisation chosen. You are expected to show research experience of essential relevance for the chosen master specialization. Furthermore, the material highlighted in the matrix should be mastered at bachelor end-level. Without the approval of the admission board you cannot be admitted to the Master's programme.

    Apply for the Master's programme via Studielink and complete your application in your personal VU dashboard. After we have received the requested documents, the admission board will decide whether you can be invited for the intake interview. Please note that you cannot do the intake interview before your application is complete.

    *Similar relevant programmes need to cover the required knowledge stated below for students to be eligible in the Master Drug Discovery Sciences

    Mastering of the material highlighted in the matrix is judged by grade(s) obtained for key courses in the respective field. The Master’s coordinator will determine if you meet these requirements.

    1. Biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and pharmacology, including techniques such as protein expression, purification, mutagenesis. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbooks Essential Cell Biology (Alberts et al.), chapters 1-16, and Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry (Patrick), chapters 1-18.
    2. Pharmacokinetics, enzyme kinetics and pharmaceutical toxicology. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Pharmacology (Rang & Dale), chapters 1-10 & 21-26.
    3. Analytical chemistry, including techniques such as HPLC, spectrophotometry, fluorimetry, NMR, mass spectrometry. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Quantitative Chemical Analysis (Harris), chapters 1-10, 17-25.
    4. Organic chemistry, including practical laboratory experience with organic chemical techniques. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Organic Chemistry (Clayden et al.), chapters 1-30.
    5. Physical chemistry. An indication of the expected knowledge is given by textbook Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences. Peter Atkins and Julio de Paula, chapters 1-4.

    Additional admission requirements specialisations

    For the different specialisations there are different requirements for the amount of knowledge (+) in the above-mentioned fields, as indicated below. 

    Track12345
    Molecular Pharmacology++++
    +
    Molecular Toxicology++++++
    Synthesis of Drugs+
    ++++
    Computer-Aided Drug Design+

    +++
    Bioanalytics+++++

    English language requirements

    If you are applying for one of our English-taught Master's degree programmes you will have to demonstrate sufficient English language proficiency by submitting English test results. 

    Although complete applications are preferred, you can begin your application before you have completed the test and then submit your passing score once you have been conditionally admitted.

    You can find which test types and scores are accepted, the deadlines for submitting test results and all other relevant information on our application page under the Language Proficiency Requirements tab.

  • Application with an international degree

    Required format and required documents
    Please note: you will need to upload all required documents in one PDF file, using this Application Form Template.
    Please check here which documents you need to submit for this specific Master's programme.

    After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure.

    For more information, international students may also contact the International Student Advisors: masters.fs@vu.nl.

    Grants and scholarships
    As an international student planning to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries. Detailed information about scholarships and deadlines can be found on www.vu.nl/scholarships or www.grantfinder.nl

    International Student and Alumni Ambassadors
    Our International Student and Alumni Ambassadors are happy to tell you all about their experiences with studying at VU Amsterdam and living in Amsterdam.

    • Our Student Ambassadors are current students at VU Amsterdam that represent a wide variety of programmes and countries.
    • Our International Alumni Ambassadors are VU Amsterdam graduates who are currently either working in the Netherlands or abroad, or doing a PhD or (second) Master's.

    You will find the full overview of our Ambassadors here: vu.nl/ambassadors. There you can chat with them directly.

Want to know more?

Don't hesitate to contact us!

Are you applying with a Dutch diploma? You can contact the Educational Office of the Faculty of Science for questions and practical information: toelating.beta@vu.nl

For questions about the programme, please send an e-mail to the programme coordinator, Stefan Dekker: s.j2.dekker@vu.nl. For more general questions, please send an e-mail to contact@vu.nl

Call us on +31 20 5985000 (on working days from 10.00 till 16.00)

International diploma applicants

Do you have any questions about the application or admission procedure? International diploma applicants are welcome to send an e-mail to masters.fs@vu.nl or book a phone appointment to get in touch with the International Student Advisor of this programme.

If you have questions about the tuition fee, Studielink or your personal dashboard on VU.nl, please contact the Student Desk: studentdesk@vu.nl

Also, make sure to take a look at our FAQ page - you might already find your question answered there.

Contact

  • Marija Bosnić
  • International Student Advisor
  • Faculty of Science
  • masters.fs@vu.nl
  • Sandra van Daalen
  • International Student Advisor
  • Faculty of Science
  • masters.fs@vu.nl
  • Jasper Oosterveld
  • International Student Advisor
  • Faculty of Science
  • masters.fs@vu.nl