Leiden University Career Zone
Choosing a Master’s program
In the Netherlands, obtaining a master's degree is still seen as the completion of a complete university study.
With a master's degree you have a better chance of finding a (first) job at a higher level than graduates with a bachelor's degree, although it also depends on what your complete profile looks like.
Do you find it difficult to make a master's choice? On this page you will find more information that might help you further.
First discuss your master's degree questions with the study advisor of your programme. Perhaps you already have an idea, but you have questions about the (im)possibilities of following a specific master's programme. The study advisor can tell you more about the various options of the programme.
Study choice/career advisors Career Services
The study-choice/career advisor of your faculty Career Service can help you with your questions regarding choosing your master's programme. In choosing a master's programme, you will of course take into account your wishes for future employment. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose between two or more master's, because wouldn't that exclude all kinds of career opportunities? You can discuss these doubts and questions with the career advisors and receive tips on how to best approach your master's programme.
Master's choice consultation
During a master's choice meeting, various topics can come up for discussion, such as
- Where do you stand regarding a master's choice. Do you already have an idea or is it still completely open?
- Where can you find information on master's programmes?
- What makes you hesitate between different master's programmes?
- Can you do more than one master's programme? And how?
- How do you make a good choice?
- The steps in the study choice process: where are you and what do you still need?
- Discussing (career) test results
- Plan of action.
With a master's degree, you specialise in a certain field. At the same time, your choice for a master's degree does not have to be all-decisive for your career. Many graduates go on to do work other than in their chosen field, either immediately or after a few years.
The package of knowledge and skills (academic/cross-disciplinary) can be used in several places. Along the way, you will also find out what work you like doing best, which may be different from what you had thought in advance.
Naturally, certain fields require specific (master's) education. Think of doctors, lawyers or therapists. It is important to take this into account when choosing a master's programme.
Ideally, you should start orientating yourself towards your master's specialisation in the second year of your bachelor's programme;
If you already have an idea of the work you would like to do, you can start looking for the best master's programme for you.
If you do not have an idea yet, the step-by-step plan for choosing a master's programme may help you.
As with your bachelor's choice, it is essential that you look at yourself first and try to answer questions about yourself, such as: Who am I? What do I like? What am I good at? What do I find important?
Start here with your Step-by-step plan for choosing a Master's
To be able to make a Master's choice, it is first of all important that you understand yourself.
If you know who you are, what you can do, what you want and what you find important (qualities, competences, interests, values, etc), you can better determine what suits you and this helps you to give direction and make decisions.
You may already be able to formulate this reasonably well for and about yourself, but it can also be useful to discuss this with others in order to get this clear.
In addition, it may also be useful to take tests that can help you with this.
On the LU Career Zone you will find tests that will give you insight into the framework of your (study) career, and therefore also with regard to your master's choice:
- Career test (interests/drives, what are you curious about, what do you want to know more about)
- Competencies (what are you good at, what do you do well, what would you like to develop further?)
- Work values (what is important to you, in your life and in your work?)
But don't forget to take:
- The Icares career test, which gives you an overview of suitable jobs based on your interests. You can request this free test at the Career Service.
Career Planning module
The Career Planning module, which you can also find on the LU Career Zone, can be useful to go through in this master's choice process. The more insight you gain into your career wishes, the more targeted your search will be.
In this module too, you start by collecting information about yourself in Know Yourself. Then list your results in your Personal Profile (Career Planning) document. In this way, based on the results of the previous exercises, you draw a picture of yourself that is as complete as possible. By putting the various aspects together, you arrive at a total overview, your personal profile. If you have a clear picture of yourself, you can move on to the next step: exploring the possibilities, the choice options. Possibilities on the job market (interesting positions and work) and the corresponding master programmes.
The information about yourself that you have entered in your personal profile will now be further examined. You will investigate the master's programmes that may be suitable for you. Which programmes best match your profile?
To start with, have a look at the following websites if you want to have a broad orientation and find as much information as possible about the programmes that interest you:
- Master's portal
- Open days calendar
If you are already thinking about certain programmes or institutions, you can start a more targeted search.
- Within Leiden University? Then check the master's website
- Be sure to visit the Open Days as well, so that you can gain a broader orientation.
Do you have your eye on a number of programmes? Then broaden your knowledge of them:
- Check the contents of the programmes in the online study guides;
- Visit an information activity/open day of the master's programme;
- Ask questions of students who already have a Master's degree;
- Research the opportunities on the labour market with certain master's programmes. For this purpose, look at "My studies and career prospects" if it concerns Leiden master's programmes.
- See where alumni of the programme work - also check LinkedIn for career paths of people with a certain master's degree;
- Get in touch with alumni about the programme and their work - this can easily be done via the Alumni Mentor Network;
You can also choose to do a full master's or part of your Leiden master's abroad. In the case of two-year (research) master's programmes, it is even recommended or compulsory to study abroad for a period of time.
The programmes that remain after this in-depth phase can be compared with each other. In this phase, determine what the most important factors are that will help you make a choice. For instance, the type of education, the possibility of doing an internship, the options within the study programme, the location or educational institution or the opportunities on the labour market.
- List the advantages and disadvantages and make your choice;
- Make sure you meet the admission requirements;
Still finding it difficult? Then make use of the T-model. This T-model is a decision-making technique that you can use when making a choice between two or more possibilities (in this case studies).
If you have examined the possibilities and compared them with each other, it is certainly possible to make a choice. Are you ready to make a decision?
You have extensively researched different studies and now it is time to dare to take the step and choose an education.
Also know that study/master's choices are not final. Research has shown, for example, that over 75% of working people no longer work in the sector they initially studied after 25 years! This is because you continue to develop and gain new experiences. Based on these new experiences, you will make new choices again and again. So don't assume that you are stuck with your master's choice for the rest of your life. Don't make the choice more difficult than it already is.
Have you found a study programme that appeals to you and are you ready to make the decision?
- Keep an eye on the application dates and register in time.
- Register via Studielink for the programme of your choice!
No master's programme?
Do you have doubts about whether you want to do a master's programme? Then take a look at 'Other choices after bachelor's'.