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Choosing a Master’s degree programme
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Choosing a Master’s degree programme

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you have the option to specialise in an academic discipline that interests you.

Many students believe that by obtaining a master's degree, they will increase their chances of finding a relevant (first) job at a higher level. It is important to realise that your career prospectives do not depend on your academic qualifications only, but are equally dertemined by your complete profile of knowlegdge, experience and skills.

Pursuing a master's degree: yes or no?
Do you have doubts about whether you want to do a master's degree programme in the first place? Pleace have a look at 'Other choices after bachelor's'

Do you find it difficult to choose a Master's degree programme? On this page you will find more information that might help you.

Study advisor
First discuss your questions regarding choosing a master's degree with the study advisor of your programme. Perhaps you already have an idea, but you have questions about the (im)possibilities of persuing a specific master's degree. The study advisor can tell you more about the various options of the programmes.

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. When choosing a master's degree, you will most likely consider your ideas about your future career. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose between two or more programmes, because you may fear excluding all kinds of career opportunities by choosing one course. You can discuss your doubts and questions with the study choice & career advisors and receive tips on how to best approach your search for a suitable master's degree programme. 

Master's degree choice consultation
During a meeting with a study choice & career advisor, various topics related to choosing a master's degree can be discussed, such as

  • Where do you stand regarding choosing a master's degree. Do you already have an idea or is it still completely open?
  • Where can you find information on master's degree programmes?
  • What makes you hesitate when chooising between different master's programmes?
  • Can you do more than one master's degree programme? And how?
  • The steps in the decision making process: where are you and what do you still need to do?
  • 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 that is unrelated to their academic education, either immediately or after a few years.
The (academic/cross-disciplinary) knowledge and skills you obtain can be applied in many professional settings. Along the way, you will gradually find out what type of work you like doing best, which may be different from what you had thought in advance.

Naturally, certain professions  require specific (master's) education and qualifications. Think of doctors, lawyers or therapists. It is important to take this into account when choosing a master's degree programme.

Ideally, you start orientating yourself towards your master's degree specialization in the second year of your bachelor's programme.

If you already have an idea of the type of work you would like to do in the future, you can start looking for the best master's programme that matches your preferences best. 
If you do not have an idea yet, the Master's degree choice roadmap may help you. 
Similar to choosing your bachelor's programme, it is essential that you know yourself 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 Master's degree choice roadmap:

To be able to make a well-founded choice for your Master's degree, it is important that you know and understand yourself.
If you know who you are, what you are good at, what you want and what you find important (qualities, competences, interests, values, etc), you can better determine what suits you. This helps you to choose a 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 these matters with others in order to get a clear picture.
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 provide you with insights into the framework of your (study) career, and therefore also with regard to choosing your master's degree:

  • 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?)
  • Personality 
  • 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, is a useful tool to guide you through the process choosing your master's degree. The more insights you gain into what is important to you regarding your future career, the more targeted your search will be.
In this module, you start by collecting information about yourself in Know Yourself. You can proceed with noting down your results in your Personal Profile (Career Planning) document. This way, based on the results of the exercises, you draw a complete picture of yourself, your personal profile. Once you have created your personal profile, you can move on to the next step: exploring the possibilities, your choice options. Possibilities on the job market (interesting positions and work) and the corresponding master's degree programmes.

The information about yourself that you have collected in your personal profile will now be further examined. You will investigate the master's degree programmes that may be suitable for you. Which programmes match your profile best?

To start with, have a look at the following websites for a broad orientation and find as much information as possible about the programmes that interest you:

If you are already interested in 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. 

Are you interested in a number of programmes? Explore them further:

  • Check the contents and set-up the programmes in the online study guides;
  • Visit an information activity/open day of the master's programme;
  • Talk to students who are already doing the Master's degree programmes;
  • Research the career opportunities with certain master's programmes. For this purpose, look at "My studies and career prospects" for master's programmes offered at Leiden University.
  • See where alumni of the programmes currently 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;

Doing a Master's abroad
You can also choose to do a full master's degree, or part of your Leiden master's degree programme, abroad. In many two-year (research) master's programmes, it is even recommended or compulsory to study abroad for a period of time.

You can now proceed with comparig the programmes that remain on your shortlist after the exploration phase. In order to do this, you need to determine which factors are leading in your decision. For instance, the type of education, the possibility of doing an internship, the options within the study programme, the location, educational institution or career opportunities.

  • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of each programme 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 tool that you can use cjppsomg two or more possibilities (in this case study programmes).

Once you have examined the possibilities and compared them you are ready to make a decision.
Know that the decision you take regarding your master’s degree does not determine the course of the rest of your life and career. Research has shown that 25 year after graduation, over 75% of professionals no longer work in the sector they were initially educated in! This is because people continue to develop themselves and gain new experiences as they progress in their careers. Based on these new experiences, they make new choices again and again. So don't assume that you are stuck with your choice of master's degree for the rest of your life. Don't make decision even harder than it already is.

Have you found a master’s degree programme that appeals to you and are you ready to make a decision? 

  • Check the application dates and register in time.
  • Register via Studielink for the master’s degree  of your choice!
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