De bacheloropleiding Wiskunde aan de Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam is uniek in Nederland vanwege de sterke band tussen theoretische en toegepaste wiskunde. Deze studie biedt je echte fundamentele wiskunde, maar ook de manier waarop je deze in de maatschappij kunt inzetten is onderdeel van de bachelor. Vanaf september 2018 is de opleiding Wiskunde aan de VU Engelstalig.
If you opt for the Bachelor’s programme in Mathematics at VU Amsterdam, you will learn fundamental mathematics and discover the surprising way in which this is applied in our society. After all, mathematics is everywhere: the Google search algorithm uses algebra, debit cards are secured using prime numbers, we predict epidemics with the help of differential equations and statistics, and Einstein’s theory of relativity is described in terms of modern geometry. As a mathematician, you will come up with clear solutions for complex problems.
This programme is unique in the Netherlands because of the strong correlation between theoretical and applied mathematics. A thorough knowledge of fundamental mathematics is needed both for the new mathematical theories we develop and for their advanced application. Accordingly, we equip you with a very solid grounding in theoretical mathematics. Additionally, you will see it applied in practice in many ways.
With about 40 first-year students, VU Amsterdam has the smallest Mathematics programme in the Netherlands, allowing for a lot of personal contact and supervision. Our graduates are known for their ability to discern connections and to translate complex problems into mathematical principles.
Please note that this bachelor programme will be English-taught from september 2018.
Joblessness is a rarity among mathematicians: they find jobs in technology companies, banks, ministries, hospitals, consultancy, IT, scientific research and education. Your knowledge of fundamental and applied mathematics as a VU mathematician will suit you for a range of jobs. The Biomedical Mathematics track will make you especially appealing as an employee at pharmaceutical companies. Apart from your specific mathematical knowledge, most companies and institutions are also highly interested in the general analytical and problem-solving skills you will develop in the course of the Mathematics programme. This means mathematicians end up in an enormous diversity of jobs.
Your VU Bachelor’s degree certificate qualifies you straightaway for the VU Master’s programmes in Mathematics and Stochastic and Financial Mathematics. Depending on the chosen courses, there are various other Master’s programmes you can enroll in, including Business Analytics, Econometrics and Operations research, and Bioinformatics and Systems Biology.
‘Doing doctoral research is like studying’
You currently work as a doctoral researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology. How did you end up there?
‘Before graduating and doing my Master’s thesis I did a ten-month work placement at TNO. After that it was time to take a breather. I decided to take it easy for a few months to figure out what I wanted to do. In January I ended up at Eindhoven University of Technology and also moved to Eindhoven. It takes time to get used to a new city. Fortunately, I have a nice house for myself: in Amsterdam I had no fewer than twenty housemates.’
What is your research about?
‘Briefly put, it’s about how to optimise traffic flows using stochastic models. A stochastic model is a process in which a phenomenon takes place in time or space with stochastic variables as outcomes, i.e., random quantities.’
What did you have to get used to after graduating?
‘At the end of the day, doctoral research is not unlike studying. For instance, I still take subjects, I’m always learning new things and even the environment (a University!) is still the same. So for me, it wasn’t that big of a transition. It must be a different story if you take up a mega commercial company job.’
Why did you choose to study Mathematics at VU Amsterdam?
‘After secondary school I actually wanted to be an air traffic controller, but I was too young to enter into the selection process. So I decided to study maths because I was good at it and I always found it an interesting subject at school.’
What do you learn in practice that you do not learn from lectures?
‘I’m lucky to have a nice supervisor who helps me decide on the course for my doctoral research. Thanks to this, I haven’t really got stuck yet. I can imagine that without such supervision it would be hard to plot the course of your research.’
How is your study useful to you in practice?
‘Above all the Mathematics programme teaches you to think logically, to have a certain way of thinking. This enables you to apply new theories easily in your work and to solve things quickly. It’s really not the case that I can now rattle off certain formulas. But in my doctoral research I do still benefit a lot from my specific mathematical knowledge.’
What do you want to do after obtaining your PhD?
‘I do think I’ll want to make the switch from the academic setting to the commercial one. I sometimes miss working on really practical issues, even though the research I’m doing is quite practical and non-theoretical already. This is because we also work with a consultancy firm which offers advice in the field of traffic flows.’
What was your favourite hangout at VU Amsterdam?
‘The clubhouse of STORM, the study association of Mathematics among other studies. I often spent time there during breaks; it was the spot at university where I really felt at home. The good atmosphere at STORM was also a reason why I moved into a student house.’
‘The high-tech industry is highly knowledge-intensive and research-oriented’
What exactly is the role of a physical model designer at ASML?
‘ASML produces lithography machines for the largest electronics companies in the world. Our customers use these machines to make chips. Stronger and more durable chips require ever more precise machines. As a physical model designer, I’m working every day to improve the software and algorithms. I’m working on the software for YieldStar, a metrology machine. With this machine you can measure what has been created on a “wafer” (a disc on which chips are made) after certain production steps. Algorithms can be thought of as mathematical recipes: they tell you how to use certain “ingredients” to achieve a result. We work on subproblems, pieces of a larger puzzle, in multidisciplinary teams that include physicists and others. My work is highly exploratory and there’s a lot of mathematics and physics to it.’
How did you end up at ASML?
‘After my doctoral research I worked in Bonn as a postdoc. I had a temporary contract and the subjects I was really interested in were not the subjects that would earn you grants. That’s when I reached a tipping point; I wanted to have some hands-on experience again. The high-tech industry is highly knowledge-intensive and research-oriented, so I knew which sector it had to be. ASML has attractive programmes and gives a lot of attention to your personal development, for instance by developing your management expertise.’
What do you like most about your work and what do you like least?
‘Putting the puzzle together, problem-solving, is immensely enjoyable. Working together on one team with people from entirely different disciplines is very instructive. The time-pressure is not so enjoyable. Sometimes it prevents you from achieving the perfect solution, as you don’t want to keep customers waiting for days. I’m a perfectionist and I prefer to keep fiddling until I’m completely satisfied myself.’
You did doctoral research first; why didn’t you start in a company straightaway?
‘The decision wasn’t obvious to me from the start. After graduating I hesitated for a while about starting in a company. The freedom to investigate problems you find interesting is what attracted me to the academic world. I was lucky: after my Master’s research I was immediately offered a doctoral position. So I didn’t take long to decide.’
What are you most proud of in your career?
‘Before I started on my doctoral programme, my supervisor was sceptical about what I wanted to do research on. Apparently, my subject was very out-of-the-box. I was working on a simple mathematical model for the swelling of a cell because of osmosis. The novelty about the research was that I used a so-called “gradient flow” to describe the problem. In the end I managed to prove the central thesis. When I talk about my research people are still amazed that I managed it, and I’m proud of that.’
Why did you choose to study Mathematics?
‘When I was sixteen I wanted to be a judge. This dream was shattered when I attended a case study during a taster session of the Faculty of Law; I was bored stiff. In secondary school I was good at maths, so I started on the Bachelor’s programmes in Mathematics and Econometrics, and I saw them both through. ’
Is there someone or something at VU Amsterdam you look back on especially fondly?
‘Riekus Kok, now an emeritus professor, has a gift to make difficult course material understandable. On top of that his lectures were fun; this man is an icon. He also encouraged me to continue doing two Bachelor’s programmes and to obtain higher marks.’
What would you say to current or prospective mathematics students?
‘Do something beside your study. It’s great if it’s related to what you are studying, but that’s not essential. Look beyond your specialisation from time to time. I myself taught support classes and contributed to planning software during my student days. Doing extracurricular activities teaches you interdisciplinary skills, gives you a feeling for applied science and will allow you to stand out in the job market.’
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"In my final preparatory year I was undecided about whether to study Physics or Mathematics. Attending several open days finally made me decide for Mathematics. Once at VU Amsterdam, I found that the track Biomedical Mathematics was being offered within the programme. I applied for it out of curiosity: it proved a great move!"
As a prospective Mathematics student at VU Amsterdam you will be part of the VU Matching programme.
Pre-university (vwo) diploma
You can study Mathematics at VU Amsterdam if you have the following pre-university profiles:
If Mathematics B is part of your profile, you can start immediately on the Bachelor’s programme in Mathematics as well as the Biomedical Mathematics study track.
Higher professional education (hbo) (propaedeutic year/programme)
Transferring to the Bachelor’s programme in Health and Life on the basis of an hbo propaedeutic year/programme? This is possible if you have additionally obtained a modular certificate for the subject of Mathematics B on 6 vwo level.
Higher professional education (hbo) / research university education (wo) (completed programmes)
Transferring to the Bachelor’s programme in Mathematics on the basis of a completed hbo or wo programme (while not having a pre-university, vwo diploma)? This is possible if you have additionally obtained a modular certificate for the subject of Mathematics B on 6 vwo level.
Aged 21 or over?
If you do not meet one of the above-mentioned admission requirements and are 21 or over, you may be admitted by way of the university admissions test (colloquium doctum). This requires obtaining the following modular certificates:
You can obtain your certificates from various institutions.
Yes, up for it?
Great! Apply today.
VU Amsterdam requires all applicants to take an English language proficiency test and to submit their scores before 31 August. Applicants who have completed their education in Canada, the USA, the UK, New Zealand or Australia are exempt from this requirement, as are those who have obtained an International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma (English-taught programs only).
We accept the following tests and minimum scores:
If you are already in the Netherlands, you can also register for a TOEFL test at Taalcentrum VU. We only accept scores that are at most two years old on the first day of your study.
3 jaar (voltijd)
Bindend studie advies
NT / NG met Wiskunde B / EM met Wiskunde B / CM met Wiskunde B
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