What you need to know about masters

Are you looking at master’s degree programmes during the RUG’s Masters week? It’s possible that you have to meet certain requirements if you want to attend the degree programme of your choice. Below are five questions and their answers on master’s programmes and selection.
By Thereza Langeler

Why would I have to meet extra requirements? Surely my bachelor’s degree means I can get in?

Not always. Some master’s programmes are small and only have a limited number of spots. Other programmes only want students who have specific skills. And sometimes you have to meet extra requirements because your bachelor’s degree doesn’t quite match your master’s programme of choice.

Thanks to a legislative change in 2015, universities are allowed to be stricter in their selection procedures. Before this change, bachelor students had to be allowed into at least one master’s programme at their own faculty, but that’s no longer required. However, educational institutes aren’t just allowed to reject students: they need at least two reasons why.

What exactly is master selection?

It’s more complicated than it seems. In the Keuzegids Masters, the Centre for Information on Higher Education (CHOI) says there is actually very little information available on how educational institutes implement the admission requirements. Not even a special task force set up by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), student unions, and the schools inspectorate have been able to come up with an unequivocal definition of ‘selection’.

To that end, the Keuzegids has included its own key to understanding the various master requirements in its guide. Here is a small selection of the things you may face: an assessment, a language test, an interview, a committee that will decide whether your previous training and experience match the master’s programme, a drawing of lots based on your average grade, or a pre-master.

If I do poorly in these tests and interviews, will I be rejected?

You might. But the CHOI found out that things aren’t as scary as they look. Some universities might label a master’s programme as being ‘selective’, when the only requirements they ask for are a matching bachelor’s degree or ‘motivation and talent’. Other universities might list an English language test as a standard requirement, but when it comes down to it, study advisers say that high school English is enough.

The CHOI researchers say that the RUG is fairly unclear on their admissions as well. Several programmes list both ‘no additional requirements’ and ‘additional requirements needed’, and it can be tricky to figure out what’s what. The RUG’s Admissions department was unaware of this issue, a spokesperson says. ‘But we’ll definitely work on it.’

Are there many RUG programmes that need special requirements?

Not that much. For every educational institute, the Keuzegids Masters 2018 lists how many of their master’s degree programmes make use of some kind of selective admission. At the RUG, this is 28 percent of the master’s programmes. The most selective university, in Wageningen, applies selective admission in 57 percent of its masters.

The RUG says it is currently only applying selective admission to research masters and ‘a very small group of specific top master’s programmes, such as nanoscience’. The number might increase in the future, due to ‘the increasing amount of selection procedures elsewhere in the country’. However, don’t worry about Groningen turning into Wageningen any time soon: the RUG is currently fairly restrained when it comes to selection procedures.

What if I’m rejected for every single master’s programme in my field?

Thanks to the abovementioned restraint, you don’t need to worry about that. The RUG feels that every single bachelor student should have access to a master’s programme that matches their previous training.

In the unlikely case that there isn’t a single RUG master that matches your RUG bachelor’s degree, there are people to help you out. A special protocol from the university states that in that case, your faculty has to help you find an alternative outside the RUG.

 

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