An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers.
Graduates of this programme will be able to work in academic or non-academic research environments.
The programme provides a good foundation for PhD study, as well as for work in public research organisations and non-academic research institutions in the private sector. The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research offers PhD programmes in the field of social sciences.
Specific career examples from alumni are:
An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers. Below you can read about the career paths of a number of alumni in the Research Master's in Social Sciences.
I applied to the Research Master Social Sciences in the expectation that it would prepare me well for an academic career. For me, as well as for other students from my cohort, the Research Master has certainly lived up to that expectation. The course directly led to me being offered a PhD position at the University of Cambridge, as well as a number of other PhD positions at highly-ranked British, American, and Dutch universities. To the best of my knowledge all other students of my cohort interested in pursuing an academic career also got offered fully-funded PhD positions in the year directly following their graduation. Other students from my cohort got well-paying jobs in the private or public sector, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
In my view the core strength of the Research Master is its intense focus on advanced research methods. The methodological skills that I learned during the Research Master have proven absolutely invaluable to my day-to-day work as a researcher. Although this may be different for more qualitatively-oriented researchers, almost no day has passed by during my PhD research when I have not made use of a method, or a derivative of a method, that I got exposed to during the Research Master. As I have several colleagues that lacked this methodological training before they got into a PhD, I am quite aware of how fundamental these skills are for a successful academic career.
Another aspect of the Research Master which has been very important for my career is the close connection that the program encourages between faculty and students. In my case the second-year internship has led to a peer-reviewed publication with several professors of the University of Amsterdam. In addition, and unlike elsewhere, the program generally allows students to gain independent teaching experience already as a master student. In my case this led me to being appointed as junior lecturer in research methodology in the second year of the Bachelor’s programme, which is an important part of my CV. I know of several other Research Master students in my and other cohorts that had similar experiences in terms of publications and teaching experience.
For students interested in pursuing a career in academia, my advice would be to try to find out early-on whether you would really enjoy such a career, or not. In my experience the best way to do this is simply to talk, as much as possible, to the professors and PhD students of your Department. This will hopefully enable you to get an idea of what it is like to be a professional academic, and whether this is something you would enjoy. The earlier you know the better, because you need time to pursue the activities (e.g. research assistantships, extra courses) that will help you get the skills and knowledge that are important for being admitted to research-oriented master and PhD programs. Getting in contact with your lecturers will also enable them to write a good and personal reference letter for you, which is very important when applying for PhD positions and academic jobs.
Ever since I can remember I was interested in the news and wanted to keep up with what was going on in the world. I didn't have any clear idea about a career, besides maybe a vague notion of doing something in politics or journalism. So my decision to study sociology was made purely out of interest. Gradually though, I realised that I was so curious about the sociological questions that came up during my Bachelor's that the most attractive option was to stay in academia and become a researcher myself. That led me to the Research Master's, as a springboard to obtaining a position as a PhD. A position I am happy to fulfill.
My PhD research concerns the effects of how 9/11 is construed on political thinking in the United States, France and the Netherlands. Often, we assume it's ‘natural’ that major events trigger all sorts of changes. In the case of 9/11, for example, attitudes towards Muslims. But how natural is that really? What qualifies an event as major, and what makes it a catalyst for changes? I hope my research will provide answers to these kinds of questions, and in that way create a clearer picture of the role that events play in societal developments. The great thing about sociological research is to uncover patterns in a jumble of stories and data – those ‘eureka’ moments, when you put two and two together and suddenly understand a little bit better how society works.
As a student, I took the time to discover where my passions lie and how I could apply them. It may sound obvious, but it's really very important. And that's what I would advise new students, too. A job is so much more enjoyable if it's something you're passionate about. So if you have an interest in writing, try to do something with that – work on the editorial team of a student newspaper or look for a work placement in journalism. Or if you like organising, join the board of your study association and find out whether working at a ministry or a consultancy might be fun to do.
To support you in your career goals, the University offers a variety of resources:
Twice a year the GSSS hosts a Career Event, where you can meet organisation representatives and alumni, and receive helpful tips and feedback about searching for a job as a graduate.
The career advisers at the UvA Student Careers Centre can help students with information, workshops and individual vocational counselling to find out what you want, get insight into your capabilities and competencies, make choices and improve your application skills in order to achieve your goals.
With an increasing number of international students each year, the UvA is truly an international university. UvA graduates from all over the world find their way to interesting careers, whether in the Netherlands or abroad. The Student Careers Centre is specialised in advising international (non-Dutch) UvA graduates about job seeking in the international labour market.