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Further Thoughts On Supervising MSc Students In The Netherlands

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!

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