The language of science

De bacheloropleiding Wiskunde aan de Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam is uniek in Nederland vanwege de sterke band tussen theoretische en toegepaste wiskunde. Deze excellente 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. In je eerste jaar leg je een stevige wiskundige basis. Daarna kun je kiezen voor een major Pure Mathematics of een major Applied Mathematics. In beide majors kun je ook gaan voor een Education track en heb je een groot aanbod aan keuzevakken.


This challenging mathematics bachelor at VU Amsterdam offers you an excellent 3-year programme that provides unparalleled possibilities for specializing in both pure and applied mathematics. It gives you a head start for a career in research, industry, education, or consultancy. It also forms an excellent preparation for just about any quantitative Master’s degree programme.

Whether you’re driven by pure curiosity in mathematical structures or by modern applications of these, at VU Amsterdam you can learn all about the beauty and ubiquity of mathematics. You can learn for example about distribution of prime numbers and geometry of graphs, as well as applications of these in cryptography and big data. Our lecturers are world-leading researchers that use innovative teaching methods. Lectures are accompanied by exercise classes, in which you receive personal feedback from your tutors. Our study counsellors will make sure that you choose the study path that suits you best.

Main characteristics of this programme:

  • Strong mathematical basis laid in year one. Choice between majors Pure and Applied Mathematics from year two.
  • Both Majors structured into study tracks. Education track can be chosen in both Majors. Many optional courses to choose from.
  • Lecturers are also top researchers that can teach you all about the most recent developments in mathematics.
  • Personal feedback and attention from tutors and counsellors will help you succeed, and make you feel at home.
  • Graduates from this programme have obtained Master's degrees in Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Computational Science, Theoretical Physics, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Business Analytics, Econometrics and Operations Research, Stochastics and Financial Mathematics, Actuarial Science, Quantitative Risk Management, etc.
  • The vast majority of our graduates easily obtained interesting and well-payed jobs.


Please note that this bachelor programme will be English-taught from september 2018.

Overview Mathematics programme:

Programma Mathematics overview


Scientists at VU Amsterdam collaborate with colleagues from several other disciplines, for instance within the VU themes Connected World and Human Health & Life Sciences. As a trainee mathematics expert you will thus be given the opportunity to look beyond the boundaries of your discipline and, by doing theoretical and practical research, to contribute to complex technological, social and economic questions.


Are you good at mathematics and do you take an interest in the field? Are you not daunted by new formulas? Are you inquisitive and keen to get to the bottom of things? If so, we would like to meet you during a taster session on our VU campus on Amsterdam’s Zuidas.

Study programme

The first year consists of a well-balanced programme that you follow together with all your fellow freshmen Mathematics students. This gives you a firm mathematical basis for the rest of your studies. In year two you decide to continue with a major in either Pure or Applied Mathematics. Various study tracks and numerous optional courses allow you to pursue your personal interests. During your minor in the first half of year three, you focus entirely on your favourite topic. The programme finishes with a research project in which everything you learnt is combined.

Within the major Pure Mathematics, you can choose between the following tracks:

  • Algebra and Geometry: If you’re into abstract algebraic structures or geometric constructions, this is the right track for you. In this track, you follow courses like Number Theory, Galois Theory, Differential Geometry, and Representation Theory.
  • Analysis and Dynamical Systems: This track evolves around mathematical models for many physical and societal processes. These models are necessary to predict for example the weather, the outbreak of diseases, and the spread of information over the internet. Courses include Chaotic Dynamical Systems, Partial Differential Equations, and Functional Analysis.
  • Probability and Statistics: in this track you study the fundamentals of probability theory and mathematical statistics. You will learn about powerful statistical methods and surprising probabilistic paradoxes in courses like Statistical Data Analysis, Measure Theory, Markov Chains, and Bayesian Statistics.

Within the major Applied Mathematics, you can choose between the following tracks:

  • Biomedical science: in this track, which is unique in the Netherlands, you follow courses in Mathematics, Biology, and Medicine; and obtain all the necessary tools for solving quantitative problems in the life sciences. You will learn how to Calculate Life! Examples include the analysis of the human genome, the search for new medicine, and the understanding of the brain. Courses include Biochemistry, Mathematical Biology, Bioinformatics, and Neuroscience.
  • Computer science: This is the right track for you if you want to become an expert mathematical programmer, or theoretical computer scientist. You follow courses like Programming in Java, Data Structures and Algorithms, and Advanced Programming.
  • Econometrics: This track prepares you for quantitative jobs in business, economics, or banking. Mathematicians from this track find jobs as risk analyst, financial analyst, actuary, and even as option trader. Courses in this track include Mathematical Economics, Operations Research, and Financial Mathematics.
  • Data science: Be part of the data revolution and follow courses like Statistical Data Analysis, Databases, etc. This track is under construction.

Finally, within both majors, you can choose the track Education, whose specific courses will be in Dutch. After completing the Education track, you receive a qualification ("2e graadsbevoegdheid") for teaching in Dutch high schools. To follow this track, you must choose the Education minor, which includes courses (in Dutch) like Vakdidactiek, Algemene didactiek, and Schoolstage.

More information on the courses

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.

VU Wiskunde alumnus Rick Boere

Rick Boere
‘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.’

Martijn Zaal

Martijn Zaal
‘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.’

Tisiana Henricus
"Mathematics is a real challenge – you have to be up for that. The lecturers are very interactive. What I like about VU is that all the programmes are located on the same site, making it very easy to take subsidiary subjects. There are also lots of international students, which creates a very diverse and fun atmosphere."

Britt van Leeuwen
"The Mathematics programme is a great challenge, as you can solve all of the assignments in your own way. I'm still not sure what I want to do with my Mathematics degree in the future, although an assistant professorship or a career as a researcher would be nice."

David Koetsier
"I took the three-year Bachelor's programme in Mathematics at VU Amsterdam and now I'm taking the Master's degree in Mathematics here as well. Specifically, I'm taking the Algebra and Geometry track, which focuses on pure mathematics. It's often difficult to visualise exactly what you are doing. The problems are often more like puzzles than straightforward sums – these are my favourite types of assignments."

Judith Naomi Schermer
"The atmosphere within the Mathematics programme is jovial and very informal. The lecturers are very approachable, and you can visit them in their rooms at any time if you have questions. I like applying mathematics in practice, which is why I took a number of courses in Econometrics and Computer Science. I like how easy it is to take courses within different faculties, and my knowledge of maths is very useful for these subjects. Next year, I plan to take a Master's programme in Applied Mathematics, Business Analytics or Econometrics."

Nikolai Zaki
"My time in the Mathematics programme was extremely useful for my Physics programme, as well as stoking my interest in science in general. By familiarising myself with the underlying theories of calculus, dynamic systems and statistics, I laid the foundations for a huge number of disciplines. During my Master's programme, I want to combine mathematics with neuroscience."

Nikos Galatis
"Within the Mathematics programme, you can choose courses from three broad fields of study: Statistics & Probability, Algebra, and Analysis. You are therefore free to immerse yourself in the type of maths you enjoy the most. I chose to focus on both Algebra and Analysis, more specifically partial differential equations. The lecturers really know their stuff. Joost Hulshof is one of the most highly renowned academics in the Netherlands in the field of partial differential equations. It's a real privilege to be taught by him."

As a prospective Mathematics student at VU Amsterdam you will be part of the VU Matching programme. VU Matching is part of the application procedure for all bachelor degree programmes at VU. It consists of two steps, a digital questionnaire on VUnet and a matching activity related to the study programme. The matching activity aims to give you a realistic idea of the content of the study to help you determine if the study matches the ideas and expectations you have and if you have chosen the right programme.

Dutch nationals are expected to participate in the matching activity on campus. The date for this programme is set for Tuesday June 5, 2018 (afternoon). Keep this time slot free in your agenda. Those that applied before May 1st in the Studielink portal and next logged into the VUnet portal will automatically receive an invitation to participate by the end of april.

International students are expected to particitipate in an alternative matching option once they are conditionally admitted. Invitations will be send starting March.

Note: Participation in the matching activity is obligatory for this study for all students!

If you have questions about the matching activity, please contact the matching coordinator for the Faculty of Sciences: For general information about matching check out the website VU Matching [Dutch] or VU Matching [English].

It is possible to take mathematics as a part-time programme. The content of the part-time programme is no different in itself: you take the course together with full-time students, but you simply take fewer courses each year. Your programme is therefore stretched out over a longer period. As such, it does not involve evening classes or classes on fixed days. With an average workload of 50% (20 hours per week), the programme will take six years, although every now and then a full-time project will be conducted.

Together with the study advisor, you will agree a concrete study path with regard to the order in which the subjects can best be taken, taking into account the required prior knowledge and your availability. We advise coming to the VU several days per week and to make your availability to come to the VU as flexible as possible due to the changing timetables.

What's your question about?Where to get your answers
Questions about the content of the programme
Ilona van den Brink (student ambassador)
Studieadvisor Corrie Quant
Admission and application
Working days from 10.30 till 12.30 h and 14.00 till 17.00 h at 020-5985020.
Information days, taster days
Communication & Marketing dept.



Thierry Mondeel


Thierry Mondeel

"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!"

Dutch pre-university (VWO) diploma
You can study Mathematics at VU Amsterdam if you have the following VWO profiles:

  • Nature and Health, supplemented with Mathematics B
  • Nature and Technology
  • Economics and Society, supplemented with Mathematics B
  • Culture and Society, supplemented with Mathematics B

Higher professional education (hbo) (propaedeutic year/programme) 
You will be eligible for admission to this bachelor programme if you obtain additional modular certificate on 6 VWO level in the following subjects: English and Mathematics B. 

Higher professional education (hbo) / research university education (wo) (completed programmes) 
You will be eligible for admission to this bachelor programme if you obtain additional modular certificate on 6 VWO level in the following subjects: English and Mathematics B.

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:

  • English
  • Mathematics B

Meeting prerequisites?
You can obtain your certificates from various institutions.

Yes, up for it?
Great! Apply today.

Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our student ambassadors are listed here on this webpage:

Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!

Samenvatting Mathematics




3 jaar (voltijd)


1 mei


1 september


Deeltijd, Voltijd


42 EC

Admission Requirements

VWO Profile

NT / NG met Wiskunde B / EM met Wiskunde B / CM met Wiskunde B


Informatica, Wiskunde en Bedrijf