Utrecht University

Theoretical Physics, M.Sc.

  • Application Deadline
  • 24 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English
The research Masters degree programme in Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University is your gateway to understanding the fascinating world of physics, ranging from the unimaginably small scales of elementary particles to the vast dimensions of our universe. Our highly rated research programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills to desbribe space-time and elementary particles as well as macroscopic and microscopic phenomena in quantum and soft matter.


Programme objective

The MSc programme in Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University provides students with a broad overview of methods and topics in theoretical physics and teaches them to work independently in a specific sub-discipline of the field. Students also learn to present and discuss their work both orally and in writing, and to take a critical attitude towards the existing literature.

Our programme offers excellent preparation for further research studies in physics or careers in the international job market. Two-thirds of our graduates continue on to conduct PhD-level research either at Utrecht University or at other prestigious institutions around the world.


Accredited by: NVAO

Programme Structure

The first year consists of two required courses and six elective courses. In the second year, you will conduct a thesis research project, participate in a student seminar, and take additional advanced courses related to your research interests.


Two required courses, Quantum Field Theory and Statistical Field Theory, run in parallel in the fall semester and form the basis of several courses taught during the Spring semester. Students are strongly advised to start the programme in September in order to take these courses.

The remainder of the first year consists of elective courses, with at least three primary electives from theoretical physics, one from mathematics, and two secondary electives from the natural sciences (including theoretical physics, experimental physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, etc.).

In the fall semester of the second year, students participate in the Student Seminar, where they sharpen soft skills such as literature searches, discussion, oral and written presentation, etc., in a theoretical physics context. Students devote most of their time during their second year to the thesis research project, possibly while taking additional (advanced) lecture courses.

Educational methods

Most courses are full-semester lecture courses consisting of a weekly lecture (two 45-minute sessions) presented by a staff member, combined with a weekly problem class session (3-4 hours of problem solving) supervised by teaching assistants.

The course Theory for Technology is a special mini research project on a topic of choice supervised by theoretical physicists from the Technical University of Eindhoven.

The Student Seminar is highly interactive through discussions, presentations, literature searches, projects in small groups, writing, etc., all on a specific topic of theoretical physics. The sessions are supervised by a staff member and teaching assistants. The thesis research project is an individual one-year project supervised by a staff member.

Group size

Utrecht University typically admits 25-35 students to the programme each year. The required courses generally have 40-50 participants (this includes students from other disciplines, e.g. mathematics and experimental physics), and the elective courses typically have 15-30 students.

Exmination methods

Most courses have a midterm and a final written exam, and some require students to complete assignments throughout the course. The Modelling and Simulation course concludes with a final computer project, and the Theory for Technology course concludes with a final written report. The thesis project is graded based on content, originality of the research, the students degree of independence, and the quality of the written thesis and the final oral presentation to the Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Interdisciplary profiles

A profile is a coherent set of courses totaling 30 EC and can be chosen to expand the thematic range of your Master's programme. The courses are on a single theme that is usually not a standard part of the programme.

Educational profile teacher degree

If you are passionate about sharing your knowledge, and you would consider a career as a teacher in secondary education, this profile might be right for you. The emphasis of the Educational Profile is on practitioner skills and school-based activities. Throughout the profile, learning theories and teaching methods will be taught closely linked to your day to day work in the classroom. The profile is tailored to meet the professional development needs of teachers in the early stages of their careers. More information.

Complex sytems profile

Complex Systems is an interdisciplinary profile for ambitious students from different Masters programmes, who want to work on modelling solutions within the field of Complex Systems. The profile gives you the opportunity to broaden your view and knowledge from an interdisciplinary angle and widens your opportunities for further development. It prepares you for a career in interdisciplinary fields at, for instance, financial companies. You will receive a Complex Systems certificate.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity

    You can choose to do this programme part-time or full-time.

    • Duration 24 months
  • Credits
    120 ECTS
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus
  • More information Go To The Course Website

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Take IELTS test
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

Academic Requirements

  • You have a University bachelors degree (Equivalent to a Dutch Bachelors Degree) in: Physics, Physics and Astronomy, A BSc degree with a major in physics, A major in science with a strong component in physics
  • You are able to demonstrate basic knowledge of classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics and thermal physics, as well as of the mathematics required for the study of such topics at an advanced level. Students typically qualify for admission if they have successfully completed advanced courses in quantum mechanics, statistical physics, and electrodynamics (typically the second courses on these topics in a physics curriculum), and preferably also a course on solid-sate or condensed-matter physics.
  • Proof of your proficiency in English (CAE- Level B, CPC- Grade C).

Tuition Fee Per Year

  • EUR 18201 International
  • EUR 2006 EU/EEA


Scholarships, fellowships, and grants offered by Utrecht University, the Dutch government, and other organisations can help fund your studies at the university. Please note that the scholarship options for programmes starting in February are limited.

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.