The right discipline
The first step in choosing a Master is figuring out in what field you want to specialize. After you finished your Liberal Arts & Sciences bachelor where you were encouraged to combine different fields of study and obtain a broad perspective, it might seem rather difficult to narrow down your interest and choose a specific field of study. However, there might be a broader range of master fields than you would imagine at first. The amount of interdisciplinary master’s is hugely increasing in the last couple of year. In the process of finding the right program for you, it useful to keep an eye on your interests, your skills and the direction you want to go in.
When looking at what your main interests are, it is important to distinguish between your short-term and your continuous interests. Your continuous interests might be those that already fascinated you during childhood and have directed you while choosing your major here at University College Utrecht. The short term, more emergent, interests, on the other hand, are those that gradually fascinate you later in life and might be highly influenced by your surroundings, the media and/or peers. The latter might appear to be quite strong, while the long term interests may come across as weaker.
To figure out what your long term interests are, it could help to look at in which field of study you took most of your courses. Without realizing it, this is probably the field that fascinates you most and that you would like to learn more about. Furthermore, it is helpful to think about what kind of topic you would want to learn more about and, especially, on what kind of topics you would like to do research. It is important to distinguish your general interest from temporary curiosity, since a Master’s program will most likely entail doing research in a field for a longer period of time rather than writing a short essay on the topic. A more informal indication of your interests might be to talk to your family or peers. Although these two groups might know you best personally, they can also be highly biased and could influence your choice by convincing you that what they are doing is very interesting. Therefore, always be critical when asking for informal advice.
It goes without saying that your academic strengths in a certain field will highly determine your success while studying this field. The academic indicator that can clarify your skills is the grades you received for specific courses. Usually, you obtain higher grades in the classes that align well with your academic interests and skills. An example of such a skill might be a specific kind of research that you liked best so far. Therefore, think about your research projects and determine what style of research goes best with your abilities and your interests.
Academic indicators are rather formal. More informal indications might come from your teachers or other experts in the field. Your teachers could tell you what your strengths are in class or in your work and experts might advise you even more on whether your skills align with a certain field of study.
You might not be sure about a certain field of study that interests you most or that you excel in, but you might be more aware of the direction that you would like to take. Finding out what this direction is for you, can be done by asking yourself the questions “Where do I see myself in 5 (or 10) years?” To answer this question, you can focus on a geographical location, a financial situation, a certain (academic) status, a certain work environment or a certain job direction. Especially the last two might give you a strong reflection of both your interests and your skills applied to a practical situation.