Students participating in a lecture

Program and courses Research Master in Social and Behavioral Sciences

Study individual behavior in different social contexts from three social science perspectives: social psychology, sociology, and organization studies. These perspectives are studied both separately and combined. Throughout the program, you specialize by choosing one of four tracks: (1) Social Psychology, (2) Organization studies, (3) Sociology or (4) Methods and Statistics. Each track offers both internal and international traineeships, specialized content and research methods and statistics courses.

Program structure

This two-year program consists of 120 credits (ECTS):

  • 9 core courses (50 ECTS)
  • 9 track courses (46 ECTS) 
  • Master’s thesis (24 ECTS)

This program has one entry moment at the end of August.

Four tracks

To illustrate the focus of each track, consider these questions regarding the current COVID-19 crisis:

  • Social Psychology
    How does the crisis affect and/or change international stereotypes of countries? Do people with different personality traits react differently to the crisis? Are people with certain personality traits more resilient? 
  • Sociology
    Does the corona crisis increase in-group solidarity at the expense of out-group solidarity? Does the crisis increase socioeconomic inequalities? 
  • Organization Studies
    How does distance work influence team performance during the corona crisis ?
    How does government respond to pandemics? 
  • Methods and Statistics
    How to appropriately model the influence of the crisis? How to deal with nonresponse in longitudinal studies?

Program content

Core courses

During the first and second year you will take 9 core courses and three track-specific courses. You will write your Master's thesis during the second year. At the end of the first year, you will start your internal traineeship, which you will continue throughout the second year. You can use the summer holidays between the first and second year to do an international traineeship. 

Program content first year

  • Foundations of Social Psychology
  • Foundations of Sociology
  • Foundations of Organization Studies
  • Multivariate Analysis, including Multilevel Models
  • Experimental Research and Meta-Analysis
  • Programming
  • Survey Research and Psychometrics
  • First year Paper
  • Internal Traineeship
  • One track-specific course

Program content second year

  • Academic Writing and Presenting 
  • Internal traineeship
  • Structural Equation Modeling and Analysis of Longitudinal Data
  • Colloquia and Seminars
  • Master's thesis
  • Two track-specific courses

Track-specific courses
In addition to the core courses, you also take three track-specific courses, with which you specialize in your research area of interest.

You will find a detailed description of the core courses and required literature in our course catalog.


Go to the course descriptions

Social Psychology track courses

Year 1

During the first year, you will take all the core courses and one track-specific course in block 2. The track specific course for Social Psychology is:

  • Behavioral Decision-making
    Learn how people make decisions from the perspectives of psychology, consumer research, decision-making, and economics. In the course, you will mainly focus on how people make decisions in a context where the outcome of a decision is uncertain. 

Year 2

During your second year, you will take two track-specfic courses apart from the core courses, your Master's thesis, and traineeships. The track-specific courses for Social Psychology are:

  • Social Cognition
    Get an in-depth look at the field of social cognition, including the processes underlying perception, memory and judgment of social stimuli, the effects of social, cultural and affective factors on the processing of information, and behavioral and interpersonal consequences of cognitive processes.
  • Emotion and Motivation
    Get familiar with the different psychological perspectives on what emotions are, what triggers specific emotions and the various processes through which emotions shape people's interactions with their (social) environments.

You will find a detailed description of the courses and required literature in our course catalog.

Go to the course descriptions

Organization Studies track courses

Year 1

During the first year, you will take all the core courses and one track-specific course in block 2. The track specific course for Organization Studies is:

  • Organizational Networks
    Deepen your theoretical, methodological and empirical knowledge about the ways in which social actors create and maintain relationships, how networks form, and how social actors use their networks and relationships to foster the achievement of their goals.

Year 2

During your second year, you will take two track-specfic courses apart from the core courses, your Master's thesis, and traineeships. The track-specific courses for Organization Studies are:

  • Organizations and Groups
    Study organizations as a social system of interaction between individuals, teams, within and between organizations. 
  • Institutions and Intra-Organizational Teams
    Get an overview of institutional theory and the way in which social interaction, dissemination of norms and values, social capital and pratcices can be explained in a coherent way.

You will find a detailed description of the courses and required literature in our course catalog.

Go to the course descriptions

Sociology track courses

Year 1

During the first year, you will take all the core courses and one track-specific course in block 2. The track specific course for Sociology is:

  • Networks and Cohesion
    Study the concept of social capital, its sources and its consequences. 

Year 2

During your second year, you will take two track-specfic courses apart from the core courses, your Master's thesis, and traineeships. The track-specific courses for Sociology are:

  • Intergenerational Relations and Reproduction
    Examine several aspects of the parent-child relationship, such as the way in which parents transfer lifestyles and values to their children, intergenerational reproduction of educational and occupational opportunities, mutual support between parents and their children and the way in which support patterns change over time, and how family composition affect children's outcomes, like wellbeing and educational success.
  • Relations between Ethnic Groups 
    Examine the phenomenon of ethnic relations with a focus on prejudice, racism and discrimination and its manifestations in the United States and Europe. 

You will find a detailed description of the courses and required literature in our course catalog.

Go to the course descriptions

Methods and Statistics track courses

Year 1

During the first year, you will take all the core courses and one track-specific course in block 2. The track specific course for Methods and Statistics is:

  • Mathematical Methods
    Study differential and integral calculus, matrix algebra and probability and statistical inference.

Year 2

During your second year, you will take two track-specfic courses apart from the core courses, your Master's thesis, and traineeships. The track-specific courses for Methods and Statistics are:

  • Categorical Data Analysis
    Study regression models belonging to the generalized linear modelling family, technical aspects of maximum likelihood estimation, likelihood-based statistical inference, and class analysis. 
  • Bayesian Statistics
    Study the concept of subjective probability, prior knowledge, prior specification, Bayesian estimation, Bayesian hypothesis testing using the Bayes factor, posterior predictive checking, and Bayesian computation using Gibbs sampling.

You will find a detailed description of the courses and required literature in our course catalog.

Go to the course descriptions

Master’s thesis

In your second year, you will write your Master’s thesis (24 ECTS), in English, under supervision of a knowledgeable staff member who will supervise you during both the research and thesis-writing processes. You write your thesis within your track. Your thesis should have a track related subject.

  • You will choose your own research topic and supervisor.
  • You will learn how to conduct all aspects of the research process: creating hypotheses, collecting data, analyzing data, and writing a scientific article.
  • Prior to writing the thesis, you will write an individual research proposal (IRP) based on an original idea, which your supervisor must approve.
  • You will conduct the research and work on your Master's thesis independently, for most of the time. However, you will be in constant and close contact with your supervisor.
  • The Master’s thesis should be written as a manuscript that could be submitted for publication in an ISI journal.

Examples of thesis subjects:

  • Trust behavior and dispositional greed 
  • On shame-proneness, public exposure and bribe acceptance 
  • Flat Earth and scientific boundary construction on Twitter 
  • Statistical reporting inconsistencies in Psychology 
  • Transgenders’ experiences stigma and its effect on mental health 
  • A thermal imaging approach to detect deception 
  • Karmic belief, karmic investment and emotions 
  • Malicious and benign envy 
  • Bayesian hierarchical models 

Please note: programs are subject to change. We advise you to look up the current program in OSIRIS Student at the start of the year.


Do you want to know more about this Master’s program?

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Short overview of the Research Master in Social and Behavioral Sciences

Delve into the individual’s behavior in different social contexts (e.g., peers, family, groups, social networks) and specialize within a research area of your interest. Acquire a thorough methodological and statistical education and write two scientific papers as part of the curriculum.

  • The only Research Master’s program in the Netherlands, which trains you in both social and behavioral sciences, and has a strong analytical and quantitative focus.
  • Personalize your educational experience by choosing a specialization in your area of interest with a track in Social Psychology, Organization Studies, Sociology or Methods and Statistics.
  • Participate in 4 in-house research traineeships and 1 international research traineeship, and work together with renowned national and international academics. In this way, you acquire, improve, and effectively use knowledge and skills required for performing scientific research.
  • You will receive excellent personal guidance from renowned scholars and researchers. You get small-scale and interactive education. There are more full-time professors than students, with classes of no more than 30 students from different academic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Head start on the labor market: your comprehensive research skills and methodological knowledge, together with your interdisciplinary knowledge of social and behavioral sciences and track specialization, will give you a competitive advantage on a wide range of applied or fundamental (research) positions at universities (PhD), research and development departments, or private companies and organizations.
  • Non-EU/EEA students can make use of the tuition fee waiver, which reduces the institutional fee to the statutory fee.

Interested in the Research Master in Social and Behavioral Sciences?

Do you have:

  • the ambitions for an intellectual challenge

  • strong critical and analytical abilities

  • an interest in and experience with doing research

Then check your eligibility and the deadlines for application.