Research Master in Public Administration and Organisational Science


Read more about this programme on the institution's website

Programme Description

This challenging two-year Research Master's programme focuses on key issues of Public Administration and Organisation Theory.

Erasmus University

During the programme, you will gain in-depth knowledge about societal problems and challenges of public organisations. You will combine theories of public administration, organisational science, and management with in-depth training in research methods. There is a focus on the challenges that governments nowadays face, such as mediatization, ageing, declining trust in the government and societal fragmentation. Challenges within public organisations are analysed, such as management professional conflicts and the role of risk when innovating. After obtaining this research master you are one step ahead of other job seekers when applying for positions in research, consultancy or policy advice.


The programme takes 24 months to complete (120 ECTS) and starts in September each year. A two-year programme is necessary in order to meet the requirements of the Research Master's Programme in the field of Public Administration and Organisational Science, theoretical competence and methodological expertise leading up to a research project, and a master's thesis that complies with the standards of an international publication.

The classes will take place at all campuses, but most of the classes are given at the Utrecht University School of Governance (USG), located in the heart of Utrecht. All courses will be taught in English. Please find an overview of the courses of the master programme below. For a description of the courses visit the website of Utrecht University.

The curriculum is subject to change. No rights can be derived from this information.

Young Innovators

Are you curious, entrepreneurial, intellectually versatile, socially responsible? Do you want to get more out of your Master's programme, and learn to work across disciplinary boundaries to both research and actively (co-)create innovative initiatives that will make the world a slightly better place? Then the Young Innovators honours programme (15 ECTS) might be of interest to you!

Three core areas of research and innovation

The programme will focus on exploring and designing innovations in three areas:

  • Sustainable innovations in health
  • Sustainable innovations in the economy
  • Sustainable innovations in urban living

Think outside your discipline

These multifaceted themes demand the joint efforts of experts from the sciences and humanities alike. They require knowledge of energy, climate dynamics, food, technology, and health. But insights into the dynamics of societies, law and economics, languages and cultures, or history and philosophy are just as essential.

The issues transcend national and cultural borders. Therefore the programme aims at substantial participation of international students and is taught in English.

Year 1

Period 1

  • Core themes and modern classics 1: Public Administration
  • Philosophy of science

Period 2

  • Core themes and modern classics 2: Public organisations and professionals
  • Designing research in social sciences

Period 3

  • Tutorial
  • Method workshop 1: High control design
  • Workshop survey designs or workshop experimental design

Period 4

  • Craft of research workshop I: Contexts, roles and strategies
  • Applied research track

Year 2

Period 1

  • Core themes and modern classics 3: Transforming public governance

Period 2

  • Methods workshop 2: Low control design. Workshop: Interpretative research or comparative and case study research
  • Craft of research workshop 2: Analysis and persuasion
  • Electives

Period 3

  • Research and master thesis track

Period 4

  • Craft of research workshop I: Contexts, roles and strategies
  • Applied research track

Why study Research Master Public Administration and Organisational Science

Explore societal problems and critical challenges in the Master’s programme Public Administration and Organisational Science.

A changing climate, porous borders, the knowledge economy, the internet of things or robotics. The world is changing at an unprecedented pace, throwing up tantalizing opportunities as well as wicked problems for the way in which we govern our societies. Private organisations, civil society groups and the public sector share the responsibility to tackle these modern challenges.

Public administrators respond to these challenges in a variety of ways. They initiate reforms to make public management less bureaucratic and more accountable, they activate and enable citizens, they help businesses become more competitive while enhancing social responsibility, and they support civil society initiatives to provide voluntary community services. You will analyse how such initiatives help governments cope with the challenges of modernity. As a student of this research master, you will analyse how such initiatives can be beneficial.

Why study a Research Master in Public Administration in Rotterdam?

This Master's degree is a joint programme offered by six Dutch universities: Utrecht University, Tilburg University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Twente, Radboud University and the Free University of Amsterdam. The participating institutes belong to the best Public Administration and Organisation Science research groups in Europe. Their multidisciplinary, international faculties offer state-of-the-art insights into public sector governance, management and policy. All courses are taught in English.

Unique about this two-year Master’s programme is the intensive interaction between professors and students and the personal attention and the international study climate. In previous years, we have had students from all over the world.

About the programme Research Master Public Administration and Organisational Science

The research Master in Public Administration and Organisational Science comprises three pillars.

The first pillar contains the core theoretical themes in the fields of Public Administration and Organisation Science, such as public policy, public management, bureaucracy and public service, and human resource management. These courses connect classic theories to cutting-edge research. Students both develop knowledge about theories and learn to apply them in research. It offers room to develop your personal interests through a tailor-made tutorial.

The second pillar consists of a broad range of philosophy of science and research methods courses. These courses will focus both on high control designs such as experimental and survey research as on low control designs such as case studies and field research. The programme will provide you with a broad basis that is needed for researchers in this field. We offer various choices in this pillar so that you can choose the modules that are most valuable to you.

The third pillar consists of both applied and fundamental research projects, resulting in a (smaller) group thesis at the end of the first year and a (larger) individual thesis at the end of the second year. A policy-oriented research project typically involves a specific organisation or policy problem. The aim of the project is to offer advice on a current issue, and this requires you to conduct research in a real-life setting. A theory-oriented research project involves the writing of an academic article or the formulation of a detailed PhD proposal, which can serve as the basis for a future PhD project. (Please note that completing this Master's programme does not automatically guarantee you a PhD position).

Educational Methods

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Individual and small group assignments and presentations
  • Visits to knowledge institutes with leading researchers
  • Research thesis traject with seminars, group work (including peer feedback), virtual discussion boards, and individual supervision

Career opportunities for Research Master Public Administration and Organisational Science

This Master’s programme prepares you for a range of careers in which theoretically informed analysis and critical assessment of research findings are essential requirements. You may continue with a PhD programme starting an academic career. But you are also well-positioned for roles at research institutes, think tanks, government agencies and non-profit organisations. Also, a significant number of our graduates go on to careers in consulting firms.

Towards an academic career

This programme provides students with thorough preparation for an academic career by facilitating research within the context of university research programmes and facilitating internships and research for external parties.

Towards a professional career

After finishing this programme, you can become a(n):

  • Academic researcher
  • Consultant
  • Applied researcher

Factsheet summary

  • Programme name: Public Administration and Organisational Science
  • Instruction language: English
  • Type: Research Master
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Location: Campus Woudestein, Rotterdam
  • Tuition fees (2021-2022):
  • €2,168 (Statutory fee: Dutch / EEA students)
  • €12,300 (Institutional fee: Dutch / EEA students)
  • €15,500 (Institutional fee: non-EEA students)
Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

ESSB is home to a vast diversity of study programmes and scientific disciplines: Public Administration, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology and Sociology. In addition, the Erasmus University College, IHS ... Read More

ESSB is home to a vast diversity of study programmes and scientific disciplines: Public Administration, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology and Sociology. In addition, the Erasmus University College, IHS, and two research institutes RISBO and DRIFT are linked to the faculty. Our education is small-scale and based around Problem Based Learning (PBL). Being connected to the professional field is another characteristic of our study programmes. Read Less
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