Further thoughts on supervising MSc students in the Netherlands
Based on my PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer from January on supervising MSc students in the Netherlands, I received further insight on how this works at other universities, such as in Groningen, and I realized that how we do things in Delft is not representative of all MSc thesis projects in the Netherlands.
Based on the feedback from a kind colleague from Groningen, I wanted to share with you some important takeaways of what is also possible for MSc students at other universities, such as Groningen:
- Master students in science and engineering disciplines at Groningen do research projects of 40 or 60 ECTS.
- Master students work full time in the lab for a whole academic year and have an apprentice-master relationship with the professor, just like PhD students and professors.
- Most often, the master students get a PhD student as their daily supervisor and carry out a side project of the PhD project. The projects often result in publications where the master student and PhD student are co-authors. PhD students get a training for supervising bachelor and master students.
- A clear schedule and planning must be approved by the supervisor, examiner, and Exam Committee before the student can start. The supervisor and examiner cannot be from the same group. A midterm meeting evaluates the master student halfway through the project. The end date is fixed, but an extension can be granted by the Exam Committee due to illness or student-independent reasons. The Dutch law on higher education requires a re-exam possibility for each course unit, hence also for the research project. If a student fails again, they have to start all over in a different group.
- If the student fails certain criteria, a remediation trajectory is defined, and tasks must be completed.
- Students who do a master project abroad (for example, those who go to a Max Planck Institute) get paid and have their travel expenses reimbursed.
- PhD students get training for supervising bachelor and master students.
- TopMaster students (such as those in the TopMaster programme in Nanoscience) also write a proposal for a PhD project under the same supervisor of their research project. Students receive a separate mark for their PhD project proposal.
I hope this additional information gives a good overview of the variety in ways of supervising MSc students between Dutch universities!