Humanities Research Masters

Connecting Humanities for Imaginative Research

Humanities research master

The Humanities Research Master is a unique programme that provides extensive training in research design, within the context of an inspiring and sustainable interdisciplinary research environment. The VU Humanities Research Master offers an excellent route to prepare yourself for an internationally oriented, scientific career, or for other research related positions. During the intensive curriculum you will develop in depth knowledge of the theories, methods and techniques of your research field, learn to connect with other science fields, develop your research skills and your talent to pose innovative questions, and learn to relate your research with societal issues. To support highly motivated and excellent students, we offer various scholarships.

Humanities connected
The Humanities can boast on a century long, dynamic tradition, with a large variety in themes, methods and connections between its knowledge fields: arts, culture, history, literature, linguistics, and philosophy. At this moment, the Humanities are in transition: world wide, scholars are challenged to re-establish and communicate the value of humanities research. VU Humanities Research Master takes up this challenge. We aim to educate humanities researchers who know how to design innovative, imaginative research across disciplines. In close collaboration with highly acclaimed research groups you will develop techniques to connect your research with current societal challenges, and to communicate the results to a broad audience. You will be able to profit from the extensive network our teams have built up with heritage institutions, research institutes, NGO’s and business partners, for internships and embedded research projects.

Students enroll for the humanities research master through one of the specializations.

The Humanities Research Master offers five specializations:

Humanities Research: Global History
Critical Studies in Art and Culture
Humanities Research: Critical Studies in Art and Culture
Humanities Research: Literature & Contested Spaces
Linguistics afbeelding klein
Humanities Research: Linguistics

Humanities Research: Philosophy


Cross-cutting themes: Digital & Environmental Humanities

The two cross-cutting themes:

  • Digital Humanities
  • Environmental Humanities

Digital Humanities is a cross-cutting theme of the Humanities Research Master. The track designed to train humanities students as data analysts of the future. In our globalizing and increasingly digital world of big data, urge is growing for analysts who are trained in comparing complex and long term sets of quantitative and qualitative data. The sources and objects studied in history, media, literature, and linguistics are increasingly becoming available digitally. We need digitally trained students who are able to track news reports and social debates, who master “distant reading techniques” to trace and understand the changing impact of ideas, individuals, and institutions over time.

The Digital Humanities track offers you the opportunity to develop computational competence relevant for your discipline. Students will learn how to create, interpret and analyse different types of data collections using computational tools. To become a Digital Humanities expert, you will follow an introductory course in Digital Humanities, several Human Language Technology courses offered by the internationally acclaimed Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab (CLTL), and courses offered by your specialization. Through a combination of courses, internships and electives you will be trained to redesign traditional hermeneutic and empirical humanities methods into computational techniques and to evaluate the differences between the methods used in (digital) research projects. You will learn to investigate and apply forms of data analysis that look critically at big data from multiple sources and perspectives.

The track prepares students for a (research) career in the fast growing area of digital humanities, or in career in science journalism, data analytics, digital collection management, etc.

Digital Humanities Scholarship
In 2017 NETWORK INSTITUTE OF VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT AMSTERDAM offers a Digital Humanities Scholarship for an excellent and highly motivated student. Please see our scholarship page for more information.

Download flyer Digital Humanities

One of the most pressing concerns in our present world is the environmental crisis. The threat of major climate change has made us aware that we live in a connected world: humans exist not in a vacuum, but always in relation to their surroundings, to others, to socio-political and cultural structures. This principle of interconnectedness is the focal point of the Environmental Humanities theme.
Relations between humans and their environment have long been central to various disciplinary courses and research projects within the Faculty of Humanities at the VU, especially in the departments of History, Art and Culture, and Literature. The History department, for example, is a key institute in Dutch environmental humanities: it published a seminal survey on the environmental history of the Netherlands (Groene geschiedenis van Nederland, 1993) and hosted the first global conference of the European Society for Environmental History in 2008. Environmental Humanities brings these disciplinary interests into conversation with each other to create new connections both within and outside the humanities.

Students who choose this theme are encouraged to connect questions, issues and methodologies to probe pressing environmental concerns from the basis of their disciplinary track. In the second semester of their first year, they begin their specialisation with a core course in the Environmental Humanities. Building on the knowledge of the field’s key concepts, debates and methodologies they acquired in that course, they specialize further in the environmental humanities in courses and tutorials, combining their disciplinary training and knowledge with the interdisciplinary perspective of their specialisation. The environmental humanities specialisation thus teaches students not only to apply their disciplinary methodologies and perspectives to environmental issues, but also to make creative connections to other humanities disciplines. Moreover, it trains a generation of students aware of the value of the humanities in exploring pressing environmental concerns.

Environmental Humanities Scholarship 
In 2017 CLUE+, the Research Institute of Culture, History and Heritage of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers an Environmental Humanities Scholarship for an excellent and highly motivated student. Please see our scholarship page for more information.

Download flyer Environmental Humanities


Scholarships (EU students)

The Graduate School of Humanities offers three scholarships for three excellent students from the Netherlands and other EU countries:  
1. Humanities Connected Scholarship
Offered by the VU Graduate School of Humanities
2. Digital Humanities Scholarship
Offered by VU Network Institute
3. Environmental Humanities Scholarship
Offered by VU CLUE+ Research Institute for Culture, History and Heritage 

The Humanities scholarship consists of a tuition fee waiver for one year of your Humanities Research Master programme. These scholarships do not provide any additional allowance towards study or living costs. Application date: before June 25, 2017 (please note that the deadline for the master application has been extended to July 15 2017).
The Graduate School of Humanities Scholarship Programme (GSH-­‐SP) offers talented prospective Dutch and European Union students unique support to pursue a Research Master’s degree at the Faculty of Humanities of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. All applications received by 25 June 2017
will be reviewed by the Graduate School of Humanities, and members of CLUE and Network Institute. The award is based on a motivation letter, the quality of previous education and the student's academic performance therein. A scholarship offer will be made to successful candidates.
Eligible candidates 
The VU Humanities Research Master scholarships are for strongly motivated students with excellent study results. Eligible candidates must be able to prove their academic excellence, and they must have enrolled for the Humanities Research Master programme of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Students from outside the EU are not eligible for admission: they can apply for the VU Fellowship programme. 
The GSH scholarship is a tuition fee waiver. GSH scholarship does not provide any additional
allowance towards study or living costs.

Application procedure

1. Register for Master’s programme
Students register for the Humanities Research Master's programme. Enrollment is done through one of the four specializations: 

Humanities Research: Global History
Humanities Research: Critical Studies in Art and Culture 
Humanities Research: Literature & Contested Spaces 
Humanities Research: Linguistics

Please follow the guidelines for enrollment on these specialization websites.

2. Submit application for the GSH Scholarship:
For GSH Scholarship application 3 documents are required:
A.    Transcript of records: a certified list of the academic results obtained to date
(qualifications and lists of grades).
B.     Motivation Letter
Write a strong motivation letter in which you explain your motivation for the application.
Please indicate:
•       What scholarship you apply for: Humanities, Digital Humanities, Environmental
•       Why do you want to study this specific programme / topic? Please also integrate your first
ideas about how you envision your study programme.
•       What do you aspire after your degree?
•       Why do you deserve the scholarship?
Do not hesitate to mention other motivations as well, we like own initiative!
C.     Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Send in the documents to the VU Graduate School of Humanities:

3. Decision
The Committee decides which students will be offered a scholarship. The Committee makes a merit
based selection.

4. Results
All students will receive a notification that their application has been received and, 4 weeks
after the deadline, an e-­‐mail informing them of the scholarships Committee's decision concerning
their application. Expected date of final decision: July 10, 2017.

5. Acceptance of GSH scholarship
Selected candidates accept/decline the scholarship offer through email before July 15, 2017. For
pressing questions regarding the GSH scholarship, please send an email to:


Please check the specializations/tracks for information on the programme, admission, and scholarships. If you have any questions about the Humanities Research Master, please contact the Graduate School of Humanities. For questions about the specializations, please contact the specialization coordinators (see the specialization webpages).

For International students
Questions about studying at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam as an international student? Please contact Stipo Jelec at our International Office (

For regular updates on current activities see the Facebook page of the VU Graduate School of Humanities. Or visit the pages of the specializations: 

  • ART AND CULTURE: blog. 
  • HISTORY: Global History and Heritage in a Post-Colonial World 
  • LITERATURE: Facebook

To find out about the research environment of history research at VU, visit the pages of our research centers:

  • ClUE+ Research Institute for Culture, History and Heritage
  • Network Institute
  • Global History and Heritage in a Post-Colonial World
  • Amsterdam Centre for Religious History
  • Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotion and Sensory Studies
  • Stevin Center for History of Science and Humanities.

Logo Graduate School