MSc in Marine Biology

General information

How does increasing temperatures affect whales and seals? How does overfishing influence marine food-webs? How do we restore and protect the Wadden Sea?

The two-year Master's degree programme in Marine Biology focuses on life in our planet's seas and oceans. Whether you are interested in biological oceanography, conservation of marine mammals, or coastal marine ecology, we offer plenty opportunities to receive a solid academic training in marine biological research. Together with your mentor (who will be a professor in marine biology) you can design your own study programme to fit your personal preferences.

Our flexible Master's degree programme is open for all students with a Bachelor's degree in Biology. We offer a number of mandatory master courses which are jointly taught by several research groups in Marine Biology at the University of Groningen, and in close co-operation with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Texel, Yerseke). In addition you can select a number of facultative courses which may be discipline oriented, geographically oriented, or (research) skills oriented.

The programme is strongly research oriented. You will conduct two research projects under the supervision of experienced researchers. The first projects will be executed at University of Groningen or NIOZ, the second project can be done anywhere in the world as long as it meets our academic standards. For example, our students have performed projects on the Great Barrier Reef, in the Wadden Sea, the Baltic, Mediterranean, up to the Antarctic.

Programme options

  1. Research profile

    This is a 2-year programme of 60 credits (ECTs) per year. You start with 3 mandatory courses: Principles of Biological Oceanography, Principles of Marine Ecology and Principles of Marine Conservation.

    These are all 5 ECTs courses. In addition we offer a series of specialized courses in Marine Biology. These courses cover topics including marine community ecology, marine modelling, applied marine biology or marine evolution whereas other courses are geographically oriented (polar ecosystems, Mediterranean rocky shores). Many of our courses are field oriented.

    Apart from specialized marine courses you can also choose skills oriented (analytical, statistical) courses. Courses will be taught by lecturers from various research institutes, as well as external experts (mainly NIOZ). After a series of compulsory and facultative courses (in total 40 ECTs max), students will start their first research project. The programme is strongly research oriented and students complete two research projects (typically 40 ECTs and 30 ECTs). The first project is executed at University of Groningen or NIOZ, whereas the second project can be executed anywhere in the world (but needs to be discussed and approved by the student's mentor!). In the final stage of their master, students write an essay and prepare a colloquium (both 5 ECTs).

  2. Science, Business, Policy                                                          

           Interested in the business side of science? You can combine this Master's programme with the Science Business & Policy profile. The SBP profile includes a six-month internship as a scientific advisor.

Programme schedule

2-year programme; credits per year: 60 ECTS; most courses are 5 ECTS.

For the complete curriculum, please see:

We offer students a series of introductory and specialised courses in Marine sciences (20-30 ECTS).

The courses will facilitate students from various backgrounds to successfully obtain a degree in Marine Biology. These courses will cover a large range of topics including chemical, physical and biological oceanography, marine conservation, marine community ecology, applied marine biology and marine evolution. Courses will be taught by lecturers from various research institutes, as well as external experts (mainly NIOZ). After a series of compulsory and facultative courses, the students will start their first research project.

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is recommended
  • For an average of 20 weeks
  • Maximum of 60 EC

Exchange: All our science and engineering programmes offer study abroad possibilities at a number of partner institutions. Our partners include top-100 universities in Europe (for example in Germany, UK, and Sweden) and in the USA, China, South-East Asia, and South America. Our exchange programmes have a typical duration of one semester and count toward your final degree.

Learning outcome:

Job prospects

  • About one third of the graduates continue in academic research with the pursuit of their PhD degree in The Netherlands or abroad.
  • About one third of the graduates continue in various kinds of research and management related to fisheries and coastal zone management.
  • About one third of the graduates work in the public sector, for example in journalism, teaching or communication.

Job examples

  • PhD research position
  • Research and Management related to marine biology
  • Work in the public sector
Contact Person: Maartje Giesbers (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0031 - Project management", "0312 - Policy and governance", "0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography


Venue: University of Groningen
Groningen, Netherlands



EU/EEA students​: 2083 €

non-EU/EEA students: 14600 €


Degree Requirements. An academic Bachelor's degree in any field of biological sciences. This includes, but is not restricted to, ecology, evolution, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, theoretical biology and behavior.

Interested candidates with a background in other fields such as chemistry, physics, engineering, economics, or other cross disciplines will be considered/evaluated on a case by case basis.Students entering with no specific marine biological background will need to follow the set of Introductory Core Courses.

This Master's programme is research-focused. Candidates are therefore encouraged to have a strong quantitative background in, for example, analytical statistics, data processing, programming or other hard skills.

Language Requirements 
Sufficient English proficiency is required. Language requirements include:

  • IELTS (academic): 6.5 - no less than 6.0 on each section
  • TOEFL IBT (internet-based test): 92 - no less than 21 on each section
  • TOEFL CBT (computer-based test): 237 - no less than 21 on each section
  • TOEFL PBT (paper-based test): 580 - no less than 55 on each section
  • Cambridge English: C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency (formerly known as CAE and CPE)
  • Language Centre English test - University of Groningen Language Centre: Minimum section scores C2 or C1 (one B2 score allowed)

Application Procedure:

For information on applying online for a Master's degree programme of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, please visit our Admissions Guide. Read the instructions on the different application steps carefully.

A summary:

1.        Apply through Studielink for the programme of your interest and submit your application
2.        Access your Online Application System (OAS) account using the log in detailsthat were automatically sent to you by email (make sure you check your spam folder)
3.        Follow all the steps within OAS , upload your documents and submit your application*
4.        Wait for the email with instructions on how to pay the application fee
5.        Pay the application fee

The Admissions Board will decide whether you can be admitted to the Master's degree programme. Applications are evaluated on a continuous basis. You do not have to wait until the application deadline to apply.

Contact Admissions office

If you have any further questions regarding admission after reading the information above and the Admissions Guide, please contact us at or call +31 50 363 8976.

Application deadline

1 May 2019

Grant Opportunities:

Holland scholarships (for non-EEA students)

Grant finder


Academic level: Master

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