Universiteit Leiden

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European Union Studies (MA)

Career prospects

Create a world of opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University.

What our graduates do

For graduates of European Union Studies at Leiden University there are a variety of career options available within the Brussels-based EU organisations, as well as the myriad non-governmental organisations, research institutes, and businesses which are operational within the inner-circle of the EU institutions. Our graduates end up working in a diverse range of positions, examples include:

  • Communications manager and project assistant at an NGO promoting reconciliation and peace
  • PhD student
  • Policy advisor for the European Parliament
  • unior advisor on public affairs at a communications and consultancy firm
  • Research assistant at a legal institute
  • Junior advisor on PR at a consultancy firm
  • Programme assistant at an NGO promoting Eastern European interests and development
  • Research analyst at a consultancy firm
  • Project officer at an embassy in the Netherlands
  • Project manager at a company specialising in geo-services, international development and project management

Career options in EU organisations

After your graduation you will have a solid grounding in the main issues of the European Union, you will be highly employable both in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Joint research programmes and EU-administered regulations are ensuring that both employers’ and employees’ organisations are in regular need of qualified graduates in this field.

Lisa Schafer

Graduated in European Union Studies

Lisa Schafer

"After graduating and finishing a seven month internship with the EEAS (European External Action Service) in South Korea, I got hired by the Boston Consulting Group in London within their Data and Research Services team. Hence, I am now living in London (UK) since July 2016 where I work as an associate analyst."

Monitoring the Brexit negotiations

"The nature of my job now entails handling busy consultants and supporting them in their analysis with quantitative and qualitative research approaches through databases such as Bloomberg, Datastream and Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. I am now aiming to work more within the area of financial regulations and I am monitoring the Brexit negotiations and strategies with much fascination."

A unique practical perspective on EU politics

"The toughest challenge for my education was to specialise. With a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, my undergraduate education was very broad and I wanted to focus on a more specific policy area. The Master’s programme in European Union Studies at Leiden University offered a unique practical perspective on EU politics which is the major reason why I decided to complete this master."


Jacob Cloo

Graduated in European Union Studies (MA International Relations)

Jacob Cloo

“After graduating European Union Studies I started with a graduate-traineeship in Brussels with the Benelux Union. European Union Studies is a really good start if you want to work in Brussels. Everyone here is expected to have a high level of EU knowledge, something that you will be taught in Leiden.”

My training in EU law at Leiden was very helpful “My first job was doing research on the implications of two pieces of EU-legislation on cross border healthcare in Europe, and specifically within the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. My training in EU law at Leiden was actually very helpful because I knew instantly where to look for information, official documents and probably even more important, how to read all these documents without getting lost. “

Advising on risks and opportunities that arise from EU-decisions “After that I got a job with Harwood Levitt Consulting, a Brussels based public affairs and political risk strategy consultancy. Here I work for and with clients in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector, advising them on risks and opportunities that arise from EU-decisions, as well as their messaging and other communications with EU-institutions, trade associations etc. “

A high level of EU knowledge “It helped me to have knowledge on EU law and EU institutions, because I deal with this in my work every day.  All the other courses are perhaps less relevant for my current job, but especially important if you get in touch with others in Brussels and talk about what’s going on, you need to have a broad knowledge of what is happening. That is why networking, reading the news papers and getting the latest rumours is a must in the Brussels bubble.”

Beaudine Verhoek

Graduated in MA European Union Studies, now works at NATO

Beaudine Verhoek

"The MA European Union Studies prepared me to launch my career outside the Netherlands. I developed my interest in international relations, with a special focus on Russia relations, foreign security policy and multilateralism. It helped me to understand how policies constitute endless dialogues between powers of continuity and powers of change."

Cultural diversity "In addition, working side-by-side with international students in a political context taught me to cope with minds shaped by cultural diversity. As an Officer at NATO, this is an invaluable skill when negotiating and shaping policies with 28 Allies and partners to project stability in the Transatlantic area and beyond."

A Leiden University degree

Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

In which sector do students find jobs?

The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA European Union Studies 2016-2020.


  • 54 % Government and semi-government organisations
  • 15 % Non-profit (e.g. at an idealistic organisation)
  • 10 % Communication and marketing
  • 5 % Financial institutions
  • 4 % IT
  • 4 % Education
  • 4 % Consulting
  • 4 % Media and journalism

How successful are they in finding a job?

  • 70 % found a job within two months
  • 92 % found their first job at academic level

Career preparation

Find out how this programme exactly prepares you for your future career and check our career preparation activities.

The master’s programme in International Relations at Leiden University aims to equip you with a range of important transferable skills and knowledge that will help you stand out in your future career. Your specialised knowledge is complemented by a broad and contextual understanding as well as critical-thinking skills that can be applied to complex conceptual problems. In class, we encourage every student to participate in discussions to develop their ability to clearly and confidently articulate their ideas as well as fine-tune their logic and reasoning abilities. Other skills you may encounter in the various International Relations courses are:

  • Collaboration
  • Persuasion
  • Research
  • Self-directed learning
  • Creative thinking

You will have the opportunity to gain experience working an as intern in an organisation in the Netherlands or abroad. This experience is highly valued within international organisations, as are strong communication skills. Organisations where students from the MA International Relations programme may find an internship include:

  • Security Policy Department (DVB) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Dutch Ministry of Defense
  • NGOs, for example Gender Concerns International or NGO’s focused on humanitarian aid
  • Think tanks, such as the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’, the International Centre for Counterterrorism and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies around the world (Latvia, Washington, USA, South Africa, etc)
  • European institutions - examples include Estonian presidency of the European Union, internships for members of the European Parliament
  • Media outlets such as Een Vandaag in Hilversum.
  • Netherlands Permanent Mission to the United Nations

Please note that you will need to find your own internship, follow an internship procedure for approval, and that pursuing an internship may have consequences for the date of your graduation.

Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.

The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities

The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.

Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!

Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network

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