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Cracking the code of living systems

Do you want to use machine learning, sequence analysis, computational models and/or systematic experiments to unravel the mysteries of molecules?

Want to model complex biological systems to discover the key components of health and disease? Then the Master Bioinformatics and Systems Biology is definitely for you. Read all about the admission requirements.


Academic year 2021-2022
VU and UvA Amsterdam expect all students to be able to attend classes on campus again as of September. We look forward to meeting you on campus.

If you live abroad and are unable to come to the VU Amsterdam campus due to strict travel restrictions, we will try to find an online alternative for lectures and exams for this study programme during the first semester (September 2021 - January 2022). Nevertheless, it will be compulsory to attend several online teaching sessions between 9:00-17:30 Amsterdam time if you cannot come to the campus. In the second semester (February 2022- July 2022) and in optional courses in the first semester, there will be compulsory elements of teaching that require you to be physically present on the campus of the VU or UvA.

Check whether you meet the programme requirements and apply

  • Coronavirus: additional information admission

    IMPORTANT: CORONA VIRUS UPDATE

    Generally speaking, students must complete their Bachelor’s or pre-Master’s before starting on their Master’s programme. This is known as the ‘BSc-before-MSc rule’. Due to the corona crisis, however, some students have had to partially stop their studies, resulting in an unfortunate delay.

    There has been examined how an exception to this BSc-before-MSc rule can be made possible for Master’s programmes at VU Amsterdam. This means that, under certain conditions, students who are lacking credits for no more than a few courses including their bachelor project, will still be able to start their Master’s at VU Amsterdam next year. This is a one-off measure. The missing credits must be completed during the 2021-2022 academic year, in other words no later than August 31 2022. Please read carefully below which rules apply for admission into this Master’s programme.

    The following rules apply this year for admission into this Master’s programme:

    Target group

    Number of EC at least achieved / % EC achieved


    Bachelor students at a Dutch University (incl. VU)150 EC
    Current premaster students24 EC
    HBO bachelor students210 EC

    You are required to have obtained your Bachelor degree before you are able to start the Major Bioinformatics Research Project or the Major Systems Biology Research Project

    Please note that, apart from the rules above, the following passages are still applicable and must be met to be considered for admission into the Master’s programme:

    • Admission criteria / requirements that are not EC related
    • English language proficiency requirements

    Do you meet these conditions or do you expect to meet these conditions by 31 August at the latest? If so, you can request exceptional admission no later than 1 August. You can do this by completing and submitting the form. 

  • I have a Dutch university level (WO) Bachelor’s degree (VU Bachelor’s degree, VU premaster or Bachelor’s degree at another university)

    For admission to the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Master’s programme it is required to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university, with at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent. The programme is aimed at science bachelor graduates (chemistry, biology, biotechnology, biomedical sciences, artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, physics or similar) with a strong interest in biological research topics and computational (quantitative) methods. The master requires proficiency in three key subjects: Mathematics, Programming, and (Molecular) Biology. If you have received training in  all three key subjects you are directly admissible.  If you have had training in two of the three key subjects, your GPA should be at least 6.5; if you only received training in one of the three key subjects, your GPA needs to be at least 7.0.

    Minor knowledge gaps in either biology, programming or mathematics will be cared for as an integral part of the master curriculum during the first two compulsory courses (“Fundamentals of Bioinformatics” and “Introduction to Systems Biology”). However, it is strongly advised to select introductory courses during your (current) Bachelor for an optimal transition to the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Master programme. Depending on your background, take one or several of:

    • Introductory course programming (preferably in Python)
    • Introductory course calculus (and optionally linear algebra; most important are differential equations and matrices)
    • Molecular cell biology, e.g. a book like 'Essential Cell Biology' (Alberts)
    • Introductory course Bioinformatics, like Principles of Bioinformatics
    • Introductory course Systems Biology, like Principles of Systems Biology

    Bring your own device
    All students enrolled in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology are requested to bring their own laptop, due to the nature of the programme. More information on specific system requirements can be found here.

  • I have a Dutch higher vocational education (HBO) Bachelor’s degree (premaster)

    If you hold a certificate of University of Applied Sciences (HBO) or an equivalent of a VU BSc degree your your GPA should be at least 7.0 when you have proficiency in two subjects,  and at least 7.5 if you have proficiency in only one subject. In all other cases, you will be directed to our pre-Master's programme Bioinformatics and Systems Biology which consists of a selection of the courses that are listed below, depending on your prior training and background.

    For your admission you are requested to provide:

    • Your Curriculum Vitae
    • A motivation letter of at most one A4. This letter should contain one paragraph on why you would like to enrol into this programme. Most importantly, for each of the three key subjects Mathematics, Programming and Molecular Biology state your proficiency. Please clearly indicate which courses, programs or other activities prove sufficient training and background in these subjects. Also indicate on which of the three key subjects you will still need to follow training during the MSc.
    • An official transcript of your academic grades, including your GPA

    Minor knowledge gaps in either biology, programming or mathematics will be cared for as an integral part of the master curriculum during the first two compulsory courses (“Fundamentals of Bioinformatics” and “Introduction to Systems Biology”). However, it is strongly advised to select introductory courses during your (current) Bachelor for an optimal transition to the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Master programme. Depending on your background, take one or several of:

    • Introductory course programming (preferably in Python)
    • Introductory course calculus (and optionally linear algebra; most important are differential equations and matrices)
    • Molecular cell biology, e.g. a book like 'Essential Cell Biology' (Alberts)
    • Introductory course Bioinformatics, like Principles of Bioinformatics
    • Introductory course Systems Biology, like Principles of Systems Biology


    Bring your own device
    All students enrolled in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology are requested to bring their own laptop, due to the nature of the programme. More information on specific system requirements can be found here.

  • Application with a Dutch degree

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

    If you want to apply for a Master's programme at VU Amsterdam, the application procedure depends on your previous degree(s) and whether you obtained your diploma in the Netherlands or abroad. You find all information about the application procedure with a Dutch degree on the application page.

    Required documents 

    This Master’s programme requires students with a Dutch bachelor's degree to upload the following documents in VUweb:

    • Letter of Motivation of at most one A4. This letter should contain one paragraph on why you would like to enrol into this programme. Most importantly, for each of the three key subjects Mathematics, Programming and Molecular Biology state your proficiency. Please clearly indicate which courses, programs or other activities prove sufficient training and background in these subjects. Also indicate on which of the three key subjects you will still need to follow training during the MSc.
    • An official transcript of your academic grades, including your GPA

    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

  • I have an international degree

    The Bioinformatics and Systems Biology 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.

    For admission to the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Master’s programme it is required to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university, with at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.

    The programme is aimed at science Bachelor's graduates (chemistry, biology, biotechnology, biomedical sciences, artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, physics or similar) with a strong interest in biological research topics and computational (quantitative) methods. 

    The Master's requires proficiency in three key subjects: Mathematics, Programming, and (Molecular) Biology. If you have had prior training in all three key subjects you are directly admissible, if in two of the three key subjects, your GPA should be at least 6.5 on the dutch 10 point scale (the VU international office will translate your grades to this scale); if only in one key subject, your GPA needs to be at least 7.0. In all other cases, you will be directed to our pre-master programme, which depending on your prior training and background, consists of a selection of the courses that are listed below.

    Minor knowledge gaps in either biology, programming or mathematics will be cared for as an integral part of the master curriculum during the first two compulsory courses (“Fundamentals of Bioinformatics” and “Introduction to Systems Biology”). However, it is strongly advised to select introductory courses during your (current) Bachelor for an optimal transition to the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Master programme. Depending on your background, take one or several of:

    • Introductory course programming (preferably in Python)
    • Introductory course calculus (and optionally linear algebra; most important are differential equations and matrices)
    • Molecular cell biology, e.g. a book like 'Essential Cell Biology' (Alberts)
    • Introductory course Bioinformatics, like Principles of Bioinformatics
    • Introductory course Systems Biology, like Principles of Systems Biology


    Bring your own device
    All students enrolled in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology are requested to bring their own laptop, due to the nature of the programme. More information on specific system requirements can be found here.

    Please check here which documents you need to submit for this programme.

    English language requirements

    VU Amsterdam requires all applicants to take an English test. You can, however, begin your application without having the test results. Exceptions are made for students who have completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia.

    The minimum English language proficiency requirements for admission to the programme in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology are:

    IELTS: 6.5 overall
    TOEFL Internet-based test: 92 overall
    Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): A, B, C
    Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): A, B, C

    Please note that students who need a study visa must submit their English test results before 1 June. All other students have to submit the test certificate before 31 August (preferably sooner).

    TOEFL and IELTS tests must have been completed no more than two years before 1 September of the year in which your course starts. Note that MyBestScore is not accepted. Our institution's code is 7947.

    A copy of your English test result can be sent to the following email (for non-Dutch degree holders): masters.fs@vu.
    The general requirements regarding language proficiency are found here.

    Contact & information days 

    For further information about admission to the programme you can send an e-mail to: BETA Info-msc-bsb. We will contact you as soon as possible.

  • Application with an international degree

    If you want to apply for a Master's programme at VU Amsterdam, the application procedure depends on your previous degree(s) and whether you obtained your diploma in the Netherlands or abroad. You find all information about the application procedure with a Dutch or international degree on the application page. Once you have completed the application, our International Student Advisors will contact you via email. 

    The Bioinformatics and Systems Biology programme is open to both Dutch and International Students with a background in the Biological and/or Computer Sciences. If you have read the admission criteria below and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.  

    Step 1: Meet the admission criteria

    Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online

    For your admission you are requested to provide:

    • Your Curriculum Vitae
    • A motivation letter of at most one A4. This letter should contain one paragraph on why you would like to enrol into this programme. Most importantly, for each of the three key subjects Mathematics, Programming and Molecular Biology state your proficiency. Please clearly indicate which courses, programs or other activities prove sufficient training and background in these subjects. Also indicate on which of the three key subjects you will still need to follow training during the MSc.
    • An official transcript of your academic grades, including your GPA.
    • Proof of English proficiency (can also be provided after conditional admission).
    • A description in English of the relevant courses followed in the three key subjects mentioned above and literature used during your previous higher education.

    Detailed descriptions of the required documents can be found here.

    Step 3: Await decision on admission

    The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!

    Step 4: Finalise your registration and move to Amsterdam!

    Make sure to finalise your registration as a student before the start of the programme. The conditions include sending a certified copy of your diploma and submitting the results of your English language test. Also, arrange payment of the tuition fees or authorize VU Amsterdam to withdraw the fees (you need to have a European bank account for this option). Here you can find an explanation of the registration procedure and the relevant deadlines. When all conditions are met you will receive a confirmation of your registration and you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!

    Application fee & deadlines

    All students seeking admission to an international Bachelor’s or Master’s programme with an international degree are required to pay a non-refundable €100 application fee. Only after you have paid this fee will we be able to start the evaluation of your application file. If you are applying for more than one programme, you will only need to pay the application fee once. Your application fee payment is valid for two years.

    Information on how to apply with an international university degree and deadlines can be found here.
    For more information, international students may also contact the International Student Advisor: 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.

    Student Ambassadors

    Some International students are happy to tell you about their experience with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various Bachelor's and Master's programmes.

    Our Student Ambassadors are listed here on this webpage: vu.nl/ambassadors. Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam.

  • Additional costs

    Master students Bioinformatics and Systems Biology will have to spend approximately 200 euro per year for buying books. Students are expected to possess a laptop computer, running either Windows 10 or mac OSX, for participating in educational activities (which comes down to approx. 300 euro per academic year).

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

Are you applying with a non-Dutch diploma? You can contact the International Student Advisors of the Faculty of Science - Marija Bosnić, Sandra van Daalen and Jasper Oosterveld: masters.fs@vu.nl

International students are also welcome to call the International Student Advisors of the Faculty of Science: Marija: +31 20 598 5409, Sandra: +31 20 598 7459 and Jasper: +31 20 598 6104

Do you have any other questions?

For questions about the programme, please send an email to info-msc-bsb.beta@vu.nl. For more general questions, please send an email to contact@vu.nl

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

Or send a Whatsapp message to +31682548367