Mathematics

The language of science

Mathematics: The Language of Science

Mathematics is a vibrant, multifaceted and versatile field, in which the focus is on the study and development of techniques to tackle pure and applied mathematical questions. Often, the dividing line between theory and practice is merely an illusion. Mathematical theory, developed for a specific problem, often finds its way into unexpected  applications. This is the strength and beauty of mathematics, a discipline which is by definition infinite, and where new paths are always waiting to be explored. The Master’s programme in Mathematics at VU University Amsterdam provides you with an opportunity to specialize in one area while further deepening your mathematical knowledge in general.

Mathematics in Amsterdam

The Master’s programme in Mathematics is a two year programme, divided in four semesters. The last semester is dedicated to the Master’s project, which is either a research project or an external internship.

The Master’s programme in Mathematics consists of specialized courses, optional courses and a Master's project. Courses can be taken throughout, culminating in the Master’s project in your second year. This project can be carried out under the supervision of a staff member from the mathematics institute, or externally at a company or research facility. In the latter case, you will have an on-location advisor and a supervisor from the institute. The Master's project is completed by writing a thesis and presenting your results in a colloquium.

The collaboration with the University of Amsterdam on the entire Master’s programme and with all Dutch universities in MasterMath allows students to choose from a long and varied list of courses. Below a small selection:

  • Algebraic Geometry  
  • Asymptotic Statistics
  • Financial Stochastics 
  • Measure Theoretical Probability
  • Functional Analysis
  • Partial Differential Equations
  • Algebraic Topology
  • Mathematical Biology 
  • Modular Forms

Further information about the Master’s programme in Mathematics and course module descriptions can be found online in the study guide and at MasterMath.

Students in the Master’s programme in Mathematics can choose to follow the programme with an emphasis on research, on communication and education skills or on society-oriented skills. In the research and society-oriented profiles, the focus is on deepening your mathematical foundation, and includes an internship of Master’s project, lasting about six months. The communication and education profiles have, in comparison, less mathematical courses, but include a full year of courses on communication, science writing, teaching and/or an internship in a school.

The Master’s programme concludes with a research project or with an external project carried out at a business or research facility outside the Department of Mathematics. This final project will fill the last semester. Your mentor can help you to find a suitable project. The project culminates in writing your Master’s thesis and giving an oral presentation of the results. VU University Amsterdam maintains close contact with many financial businesses, yielding internship possibilities in plenty. For more information on internships and work placement opportunities, you can consult the website of the Internship Office for Mathematics and Computer Science.
Examples of research topics for a Master’s project are most likely chosen close to the areas in which the Department conducts most of its research: Stochastics, Mathematical Analysis, and Algebra and Geometry.

Stochastics
VU University Amsterdam has the largest group of mathematicians in the Netherlands working in the three main disciplines in stochastics, statistics, probability and operations research. Topics of active research vary from the truly theoretical to the very applied. 

  • Percolation theory
    How do forest fires spread, and can we predict the size of such fires to better control them? Modern probability theory allows us to better understand how small events may stochastically snowball and spread throughout a system.
  • Stochastic modeling and statistical analysis of biological processes
    How do we find mutant genes responsible for particular diseases? How does one use studies on twins to get better understanding of the biological processes causing a disease? The biomedical sciences are the great fronteer of statistics, and plenty of fascinating open problems remain.
  • Queuing theory
    How can one make sure waiting times in call centres or hospitals are minimized? There are still many open questions in Operations Research to deal with common problems in our everyday life.

Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems
The second major area of expertise at VU University Amsterdam is mathematical analysis. Researchers span a broad class of topics in differential equations and analysis.

  • Blowup phenomena in partial differential equations
    Can one predict when and at what speed gas balls ignite when lit? Functional analysis, perturbation methods and scaling techniques allow you to follow such fast-reacting systems.
  • Braids in dynamical systems
    Solutions of differential equations are often knotted or braided inside the state space. Understanding the toplogy of such braids often allows you to infer existence and structure of new solutions which are forced by old ones.
  • Mathematical Biology
    Next to the stochastic approaches to the life sciences, the department is involved in modelling biological systems using ordinary and partial differential equations. Examples include cell growth and collective behaviour in ants.

Algebra and Geometry
The department has a strong and active group in algebra and geometry, two important subjects in modern mathematics. Research is done in a wide spread of topics.

  • Algebraic K-theory
    This is a far-reaching generalisation of the notion of a dimension of a vector space. It has connections with number theory, algebraic geometry, and even theoretical physics.
  • Number theory
    Finding all integer solutions to polynomial equations is an important research topic. A crucial role is played by prime numbers and associated number systems such as p-adic numbers. Besides their theoretical importance, these p-adic numbers also have applications in modern cryptography.
  • Toric topology
    Toric topology lies on the borders between topology, algebraic and symplectic geometry, and combinatorics. Spaces with "nice" torus actions are studied, which can be described by purely combinatorial means. Main examples come from algebraic and symplectic geometry.
  • Classifying spaces
    For any group there exists an associated topological space, the so-called "classifying space", which, in several cases, contains a lot of information about the underlying group. The goal of this subject is the study of these spaces from a homotopy theoretic point of view.

Further information on our research, follow this link.

Mathematics courses in study guide.

Mathematicians are to be found in industry, banking, technology, consultancy, service organizations and many other segments of the labour market. Your analytical training and your problem-solving skills will give you a head start in many work situations, even those in which your specialist knowledge may initially seem less relevant.

Mathematics is not a vocational course: it is so broad that your opportunities are almost limitless. One of our graduates now works in financial modelling at ABN AMRO and is in charge of an entire department. Another is employed in the Cryptography Section of the Dutch Ministry of Defence. Other potential careers include:

  • Quantitative analyst 
  • Risk analyst 
  • Consultant 
  • corporate or institutional researcher, usually in a technical or financial environment 
  • lecturer

Two other careers are written down at the student experiences section.

Graduates with excellent grades are invited to apply for one of our PhD student positions. This is normally awarded for four years, during which the student is expected to complete a research project. The main task of a PhD student is to conduct research resulting in a dissertation.

Interactive relationships
VU University Amsterdam has an interactive relationship with the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science. In addition, VU University Amsterdam maintains close ties with companies in the financial epicentre of the Netherlands, located at a stone’s throw from the university campus. The university’s programmes in other fields of science provide excellent opportunities for combining mathematics with key areas of application, such as economics and the modern natural and life sciences.

Excellent reputation
The Department of Mathematics at VU University Amsterdam has an excellent reputation as a training and research institute. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) regularly awards prestigious VENI-VIDI-VICI grants to VU University Amsterdam researchers.

Reputation
The Deparment of Mathematics at VU University Amsterdam has a first class reputation as a training and research institute. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) regularly awards prestigious VENI-VIDI-VICI grants to mathematicians at VU University Amsterdam.

Close to where mathematics is applied
The mathematical department at VU University Amsterdam maintains close ties with companies in the financial epicentre of The Netherlands, located at a stone’s throw from the university campus. The campus also houses the VUmc academic hospital, and mathematical research is conducted in a variety of biomedical collaborations. In addition, the university programmes in other fields of science provide opportunities for combining mathematics with key areas of application, such as economics and the modern natural and life sciences.

Mathematics in the Netherlands: nationwide courses
The Departments of Mathematics at the Dutch universities have combined their efforts by offering courses open to all Master's students in Mathematics. This MasterMath initiative offers students the highest quality of instruction and opens opportunities for interaction with student of other institutes of mathematics. The joint courses widen the options for students who intend to pursue a PhD programme after completing thier Master's programme. All Master's students in Mathematics are required to follow at least 30 EC of MasterMath courses.

Information about courses, registrion for these courses and exams can be found at MasterMath.

Arno Weber

Graduate in Mathematics

Arno Weber_Mathematics_VU University Amsterdam

''In 2007, I earned my degree in Mathematics at VU University Amsterdam. I did my final internship at ORTEC Finance. After graduation, I continued at ORTEC as a consultant. Currently I am working on a software system called PEARL, which our clients (financial institutions such as pension funds) can use to analyse the results of their investment portfolio. I regularly visit clients to help them learn to use the system. In addition to this job, I also am involved in developing PEARL. It’s stimulating work that makes good use of my mathematics background.''

Overview Mathematics

Language of instruction

English

Duration

2 years

Tuition fee

Application deadline

1 June for Dutch students. 1 April for EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students.* * EU/EEA students with an international degree who do not need housing services through Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam University Amsterdam can still apply until 1 June.

Start date

1 September
1 February

Study type

Part-time, Full-time

Specializations

Stochastics / Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems / Topology and Geometry

Admission requirements

Field of Interest

Computer Science, Mathematics and Business

Kirsten Valkenburg

Master’s student from the Netherlands

Kirsten

''Regardless of how deeply you want to immerse yourself in pure mathematics, it is always interesting to see what mathematicians are working on. You do that in subjects like Philosophy of Mathematics. The classes for this and other subjects are relatively small. That gives you a good bond with your fellow students and with the teaching staff, who are happy to answer all your questions about maths and other topics. And you can ask your favourite tutors to supervise your thesis. But believe me, that doesn't make the choice easy!''

Can you handle million phone calls?
Our society is becoming more complex every day. Modern mathematics is needed to tackle ever more demanding problems, from routing millions of mobile phone calls to managing the next outbreak of disease. Learn to deal with complex situations from the modern world.

Can you reconstruct a spatial image?
A medical scanner reconstructs an image of brain activity from measurements taken outside the brain. Bayesian statistical methods are used to solve inverse problems if this type and other problems involving highly complex and noisy data.

How can we understand the true essence of dynamical systems? 
It is important to know what type of solutions a given dynamical system admits. How many steady states are there; can the system exhibit chaos? Solutions to dynamical systems arising in physical applications are often minimizers of an energy functional, which reflects the economics of nature. The geometric or topological structure of the energy surface may be exploited to infer the existence of periodic, knotted or braided orbits. Sometimes, the existence of chaos can be concluded simply by knowing that particular periodic orbits exist. You will get to the core of the world of dynamical systems using a fascinating mix of analysis, geometry, variational methods, functional analysis and topology.

The second year of the master is largely devoted to advanced mathematics and culminates in a Master’s project. The subject of the project should be chosen at the end of the first or at the beginning of the second year. The student chooses his Master’s project with the help of the coordinator and the preliminary supervisor, and possibly the internship office at VU University Amsterdam.

We offer a special programme in Mathematics for outstanding students from our partner universities. The short track programme consists of one full year of study. You should be able to obtain at least 66 ECTS in courses (30 ECTS) and a Master’s project (36 ECTS) in this one year. Application for this programme is possible if you have finished courses at Master's level at one of our partner universities for at least 60 ECTS that entitles you to exemptions for master's courses at VU University Amsterdam.

Partner universities

Students from our partner universities are encouraged to opt for this programme through their respective contact persons:

Partner universityContact person
Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary)Prof. G. Michaletzky
University of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)Prof. A. Bojanowska
Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland)Prof. K. Ciesielski
Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic)please contact admissonsfs@vu.nl
University of Silesia (Katowice, Poland)Dr Michał Baczyński
Comenius University (Bratislava, Slovakia)Prof. Marek Fila

Courses

More information about the courses can be found at the study guide.

Admission and application

The Examination Board of the Faculty of Sciences will decide which applicants will be admitted to the Short Track Master's programme in Mathematics. Requests for courses exemptions will be evaluated as well. Applicants will be notified by May 2012 the result of their application, and if applicable, scholarship.

  • Please note that you can only apply for the Short Track Master's programme if you are a student from one of the above mentioned partner universities.
  • Contact your coordinator to discuss your study plans. You will need a formal approval from your coordinator stating that you are selected for the Short track Master. We will be informed by your coordinator if you have been selected.
  • Apply online as described here. Please note that you will not find the option 'Short track master' in Studielink, so just select the regular master programme of your choice. Application deadline is 1st of April, however if you also would like to apply for VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP), you should send in both applications before 1st of March.
  • You will have to upload a set of documents for your online application. In case of any questions about the requested documents, please contact International Office. Please start your application, even if you cannot provide all documents. 
  • Send the following documents (also) by regular mail to:

    VU University Amsterdam 
    International Office/Degree Mobility Unit
    De Boelelaan 1105
    1081 HV Amsterdam
    The Netherlands

    1. A completed application form signed by a senior faculty representative at your home university; please mention your VU student number (which you will receive once you have started your online application)
    2. Your CV / Resume in English;
    3. A form with list of completed courses (transcript of records) taken at your home university and a list of courses that you still intend to take at your home university. Please have these lists signed by a faculty representative from your home university;
    4. Recommendation letters from a senior member of your faculty (professor at your department).

Financial aid

Information on possibilities of financial aid can be found here.

More information

For practical matters, like accommodation, living costs, financial aid, work, etc., please contact our International Office.

Lillian van Zanten

Mathematics graduate

Mathematics graduate

''I obtained my Master’s degree in Mathematics in August 2007. For my final student placement I studied the size of the nursing units at VU University Medical Center. I then started working at VUmc as an advisor/researcher in patient logistics for mother and child care. Since November 2008, I have been working at REAAL Insurance in Alkmaar as a trainee Insurance Specialist. It’s a three-year traineeship with plenty of opportunity to take workshops and training courses, both in-company and external. In September 2009, I started on the first phase of a two-year actuarial training course in Amsterdam. The sessions are once a week and there are nine modules. My background in maths is sure to stand me in good stead.''

Dutch students

The requirements are split up into Masters’ specialization specific requirements and general requirements.

Specific requirements master’s programme

  • Direct admission to the Master's programme in Mathematics is possible with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics or Engineering Mathematics from a university in the Netherlands. If you have a Bachelor's degree in another subject from a university or institute of higher education in The Netherlands or elsewhere, you require the approval of the Examination Board. The main admission criteria are:
    - A Bachelor of Science.
    - 90 EC (european credit points) or equivalent of Mathematics courses at the BSc level, including some advanced courses.
    - English language skills at the level of TOEFL score 580 or above.
  • Entrants from higher vocational education (HBO)
    Holders of an HBO certificate generally have to follow a large part of the Bachelor's programme before they can be admitted to the Master's programme in Mathematics. Students who hold a teacher's degree mathematics ('tweedegraads bevoegdheid wiskunde') will likely be admitted to a premaster's programme. For specific question, please contact the programme coordinator.

General language proficiency requirements
VU University Amsterdam requires international applicants to take an English 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.

Fellowships

The Faculty of Sciences offers fellowships, the FSF programme, to promising students. There is a vast number of fellowships available for the academic year 2017/2018. Recipients will be awarded an amount of 5,500 euros per year. This amount could cover tuition fee, rent and living expenses. The faculty may also decide to award selected recipients a 2-year fellowship, providing added security for students who are doing a 2 year master’s programme.

Conditions:

  • Outstanding students who have been admitted to the Faculty of Sciences master’s programmes will be selected as candidates by the faculty at its own discretion. There is no need to apply.
  • The fellowship will be awarded on the basis of academic merit, i.e. based on excellent grades obtained at your home university.
  • The fellowship is applicable for all nationalities, except for Dutch citizens and for those receiving another type of fellowship.
  • Candidates are obliged to inform the faculty if another type of fellowship has already been awarded.


Tuition loans for EU-students

If you are from an EU member state, pay tuition fees and do not receive other funds from Dutch sourcves based on your study, you may be entitled to a loan provided by the Dutch government. Please apply well in advance. For information please contact the Informatie Beheer Groep by telephone (+31 505 997755) or on the internet: www.ib-groep.nl.

Other fellowship programmes


Working alongside your studies
Dutch students generally have no problem finding a part-time job to help finance their studies. EEA-students are allowed to work under EU regulations. EU-students with a valid residence permit with the aim to study, can work alongside their studies. Please note that for non-EU students, Dutch employers do need a work permit. Your employer must apply for the work permit at the Centre for Work and Income (CWI) in Zoetermeer.
For general information on working in the Netherlands: www.nuffic.nl.

More job links:
www.labourmobility.com: knowledge provider on international work issues
www.werk.nl: website on working in the Netherlands
www.undutchables.nl: website of recruitment agency for internationals

Information about the programme

For further information about admission to the programme you can contact the master coordinator:

VU University Amsterdam
Faculty of Sciences
Dr. C.M. Quant 
De Boelelaan 1083a, R-319
1081 HV Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 598 7831
E c.m.quant@vu.nl

Practical information for international students
empty

Would you like to know more about our courses, scholarships and application & registration procedure? Please contact our International Office.

Email: admissionsfs@vu.nl

General information about VU University Amsterdam
empty

Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 10:00 to 12:00). You may also email us at study@vu.nl.

Would you like to read the key points of the Master's programme? Order the brochure. Or find out more about the Master's programmes and visit our information days.

International students

The requirements are split up into Masters’ specialization specific requirements and general requirements.

Specific requirements master’s programme

  • Direct admission to the Master's programme in Mathematics is possible with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics or Engineering Mathematics from a university in the Netherlands. If you have a Bachelor's degree in another subject from a university or institute of higher education in The Netherlands or elsewhere, you require the approval of the Examination Board. The main admission criteria are:
    - A Bachelor of Science.
    - 90 EC (european credit points) or equivalent of Mathematics courses at the BSc level, including some advanced courses.
    - English language skills at the level of TOEFL score 580 or above.
  • Entrants from higher vocational education (HBO)
    Holders of an HBO certificate generally have to follow a large part of the Bachelor's programme before they can be admitted to the Master's programme in Mathematics. Students who hold a teacher's degree mathematics ('tweedegraads bevoegdheid wiskunde') will likely be admitted to a premaster's programme. For specific question, please contact the programme coordinator.

General language proficiency requirements
VU University Amsterdam requires international applicants to take an English 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.

There are several possibilities for obtaining funding. VU University Amsterdam, the Dutch governement and other organisations offer scholarships, fellowships and grants.

Information about the programme

For further information about admission to the programme you can contact the master coordinator:

VU University Amsterdam
Faculty of Sciences
Dr. C.M. Quant 
De Boelelaan 1083a, R-319
1081 HV Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 598 7831
E c.m.quant@vu.nl

Practical information for international students
empty

Would you like to know more about our courses, scholarships and application & registration procedure? Please contact our International Office.

Email: admissionsfs@vu.nl

General information about VU University Amsterdam
empty

Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 10:00 to 12:00). You may also email us at study@vu.nl.

Would you like to read the key points of the Master's programme? Order the brochure. Or find out more about the Master's programmes and visit our information days.

Pawel Zareba

Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland

Pawel_Mathematics_VU University Amsterdam

''My adventure with VU University Amsterdam started in 2002 when I decided to come to Amsterdam for a one year Short Track Master's programme. The initially intended one year stay extended to five years which were crowned with a Ph.D. title in 2007. The VU's math department offers a variety of interesting master courses to choose from. I was particularly interested in stochastic finance and statistics and found many relevant courses which covered those topics from various perspectives and offered both theoretical and practical approach. I cannot omit the excellent cooperation with the supervisors of my both master and Ph.D. theses, and superior facilities offered by the university.''

Swi Yin Cheung

Master’s student from the Netherlands

SwiYin 

''The Master in Mathematics at VU University Amsterdam seemed the ideal choice for me, since it offered me the opportunity to specialise in Mathematical Biology in a programme called Mathematics in the Life Sciences. During my Bachelor's and Master's, I decided to follow all kinds of courses, covering both this specialisation and other branches of mathematics. As my thesis project, I have focused more on the life sciences again: modelling the dynamics of HIV within human populations. Most of all, I am very happy that I could combine the broad programme that the VU offers with my interests in the life sciences!''