Need to know

With the proliferation of business and media degrees in recent years, perhaps you have been repeatedly told to think twice before signing up to a Master’s in Science. The warning is that you might end up being overqualified for the private sector, but underqualified for academia. This won't happen if you have a good understanding of the various career options available to science graduates, as well as combine your degree focus with research and work experience in the same vein to bolster your CV.

With a Master's degree in Science, you can follow one of these three career paths:

  • Work in pure science or applied science using your specialist science knowledge: Professional scientists usually have a PhD, so you might find that a master’s degree is only a stepping-stone in your career. This is especially true if you’d like to work in research areas. However, an MSc will qualify you for a lot of occupations, including consultancy, quality control and product development. You can either work for academic institutions to conduct blue sky research, or join private industry to apply scientific knowledge in finding solutions for practical technical problems.
  • Work in jobs that require an understanding of science: Having a scientific background might be an advantage in many professions, such as teaching, law, human resources and journalism, to name only a few.
  • Start an alternative career using transferable skills you have acquired whilst studying: Skills developed in a science degree are very diverse, but science graduates likely have strong skills in data collection, data analysis and report writing. These skills are highly sought after by employers in any industry.

To sum up, the employment prospects of a science graduate are rather positive. So if you're passionate about science, we hope you're convinced that getting a Master's degree in Science abroad is a smart next move.

Why should I study science at postgraduate level?

Postgraduate study in science is all about gaining specialist knowledge. It's unlikely that you'll find any Master's degree programme titled "Master in Natural Sciences". Instead, science graduate schools usually offer courses in very specific areas, such as astronomy, mathematics, astrophysics and nanoscience. This means that as a Master student, you will be able to dedicate one or two years to gaining expertise and hence ready to work in a specialized area related to the focus of your degree.

If you're working for a science-related organisation or company but don’t have a first degree in science, earning an MSc can accelerate your career and even open the door to more senior-level job opportunities. For example, with a Master's degree in Science, you might be able to specialise in environmental law, sales of scientific or pharmaceutical products or science journalism.

Last but not least, postgraduate study involves a lot of independent research. By conducting research, you'll develop a wide range of skills, from analytical and problem solving skills to the ability to communicate complex ideas. Those skills are extremely helpful regardless of which sector you’ll enter in the future.

Does it make sense to study science abroad?

Science degrees are offered in English at most European universities. You will have far greater options than at undergraduate level. As cutting edge research published in English tends to have a greater impact, many university faculties have switched over to teaching and researching entirely in English at postgraduate level.

For example, University of Groningen, top 100 world ranked university, offers six MSc programmes in various areas of natural sciences, including mathematics, physic and chemistry. The MSc in Nanoscience programme at University of Groningen is rated the best Nanoscience programme in Europe and among the top 10 in the world.

Utrecht University is another promising study destination for those seeking science postgraduate courses in English. The university currently offers more than 10 science-related Master’s degrees, some of which are very unique in their fields. Those include Master in Nanomaterials Science, Master in Science and Business Management and Master in Science Education and Communication.

You will also find a large number of Master's degree programmes in science at German and Spanish universities.

One important thing to bear in mind when considering a European university for your postgraduate study is that science courses in Europe put more emphasis on applied sciences than theoretical science. If you aim to pursue a career in research, it’s important that you carefully check the course description to see how well it meets your academic needs.

Examples of postgraduate opportunities in sciences

The Netherlands

MSc in Applied Mathematics, University of Groningen

MSc in Applied Physics, University of Groningen

MSc in Astronomy, University of Groningen

MSc in Chemistry, University of Groningen

MSc in Mathematics, University of Groningen

MSc in Nanoscience, University of Groningen

MSc in Physics, University of Groningen

MSc in Climate Physics, Utrecht University

MSc in Science Education and Communication, Utrecht University

MSc in Experimental Physics, Utrecht University

MSc in Mathematical Science, Utrecht University


MSc in Advanced Mathematics, Universitat de Barcelona

MSc in Nuclear Physics, Universidad de Salamanca

MSc in Theoretical Chemistry and Computational Modelling, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

What grades do I need to get in?

Science is a very broad subject, so admission requirements vary from course to course. It doesn't really make sense to offer too much general advice in this respect. We suggest you contact universities directly. All we can say is that postgraduate programmes in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology tend to only accept students who completed a Bachelor's degree in the same subject. The grade you achieve in your Bachelor's degree will certainly determine the range and extent of your postgraduate options.

It's however very different for programmes which combine science and another discipline. You should be able to get in those courses without a first degree in natural sciences. In many cases, academic and professional background in life sciences, engineering or computing science is considered as relevant for admission. For example, the entry requirement for the MSc in Science Education and Communication at Utrecht University is a Bachelor's degree with a major emphasis on one of the natural sciences, mathematics or computer science.

It's always worth checking with your chosen university, even if you don't meet the entry requirements mentioned on its website. Admissions committees often consider applications on an individual basis and might take into account your motivation and career ambition. Mature applicants with relevant experience will often benefit from more flexible admissions criteria.