Study Maths in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is an internationally oriented country that has always been used to deal with people from all over the world. It also was one of the first non-English-speaking countries to offer courses taught in English. The majority of Dutch people speak English, which makes it easy for foreign students to establish contacts.

Study Maths in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a long and outstanding tradition in mathematics, with famous names like Christiaan Huygens, Thomas Stieltjes and LEJ Brouwer. And this tradition persists till the present day. As the well known, contempory Dutch mathematician Lex Schrijver uses to say: “Mathematics is like oxygen. If it is available, you don’t notice it. If it’s not available, you notice that you can’t live without.”

The yearly number of students entering a Bachelor study in mathematics (almost all classes in Dutch) recently amounts to 230 in total, of which 160 at the general universities and 70 at the technical universities.

About 160 students, half of which come from abroad, enter the first year of the two-year Master program in mathematics. All Master education is being taught in English. In total nine Dutch universities offer these two-years Master programs. Six general universities − Amsterdam (2), Leiden, Groningen, Nijmegen and Utrecht − offer a pure and applied mathematics program and three universities of technology − Delft, Eindhoven and Twente − teach engineering and applied mathematics. The universities collaborate in the organisation of a joint Master program, which enhances the quality since the resulting program is richer than a single university could offer on its own.

The first year of the Master program establishes a solid mathematical basis in a chosen subfield of mathematics. Half of the first year program is centrally organised, at one location, so that students from all nine universities travel to one place, which depends on the specific field. The travel costs are reimbursed, and recent practice has taught that students like to travel once in a while to a another university. In the second year the Master students work on a larger project and also attend more individual classes, seminars and workshops.

The Dutch universities essentially cover all important subfields of mathematics in their education and research. On top of the university efforts, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research ( nwo) stimulates the mathematics research in the country. Partially because of the growing demands from other fields, like earth and life sciences, security and mathematical physics, three thematically oriented clusters of mathematical research have been established, based on the tradition of quality in these directions. These clusters collaborate with the Master- and PhD programs at the universities and participate in the joint master program.

The career perspectives for math masters are presently very positive. First, there is a high demand from companies for well trained mathematicians. Second, many students go into research either in pure or in applied mathematics or in other disciplines, starting with PhD research at one of the many universities or research centers in the Netherlands and abraod. On average the initial gross salary is about 2.300 euro per month, but this highly depends on the specific job.

Next to the nine Dutch universities, there is a national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands, the Centrum voor Wiskunde en Informatica (cwi) in Amsterdam. The center focuses on fundamental research problems with applications in society. Quite a number of its employees are part time professor at one of the Dutch universities, thereby also taking part in the NWO clusters. Moreover, the center offers excellent opportunities for PhD research.

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