Marjolein (Netherlands) and Jenna (USA) share their experiences as DASCA students

Maartje van den Essenburg studied Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence

Why I chose DaSCA

"I started my academic career at a University of Applied Sciences (hbo) with a major in pedagogy and completed multiple internships as a social worker. As a minor, I chose to start the pre-Master’s orthopedagogics, which introduced me to statistics. I finished my Bachelor’s degree, took some time off from studying and entered the labour market. After a while, I felt that I could use another challenge. Then I received a letter from Utrecht University that I was considered a good candidate for the Master’s Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence based on my statistics grades. I figured, ‘why not’, and applied.

A mixed group of students

One of the things I liked about this Master’s programme is the mixed group of students with different backgrounds. Undergraduate students from sociology and psychology, but also international students and people with a practical degree like me.

Challenging, but very rewarding

The Master’s is definitely challenging, but the professors and staff put a lot of time and energy into the students. The classes are quite small, so you get a lot of personal attention and you get really close with your fellow students. It felt like we were all in it together. Next to learning about youth development in the broadest way possible, I developed skills like critical thinking, presenting, writing and of course, various research skills. Even though the Master’s has quite a busy schedule, it is possible to follow your interests. For example, during my internship and thesis, I focused on a clinical population with personality disorders.


I now work as a project manager for research, implementation and innovation projects

I work at Trimbos Institute. All my projects focus on the wellbeing of youth and prevention of psychological vulnerabilities in school and society as a whole. This combination of research and practice is exactly what I wanted. The fact that the youth programme coordinator at Trimbos is Marloes Kleinjan, who is also a professor at Utrecht University, illustrates the connection between research and practice. I think there is a misconception about the idea that if you do a research Master’s, you should continue your work in academics, for example through a PhD position. That is an option that some of my fellow students chose, but I made the conscious choice to be more involved in policy making in practice, next to research. The skills you develop during a research Master’s are appreciated in many more places than in academics alone and add to your position in the labour market. It really is an investment in yourself."

Ana Okorn studied Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence

Ana Okorn

"After finishing my Bachelor’s in Slovenia, where I’m from, I was looking for a highly challenging Master’s programme, designed as a preparation for a PhD position. Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence was definitely the right choice. In joining this programme, you not only gain a strong and broad expertise in developmental psychology and advanced statistical and methodological knowledge, but you also learn how to think critically and how to communicate your ideas to others.

Being an international student in this Master’s was not a problem at all. Everything is designed to fit within the international structure of the programme, so all the tasks, literature and communication are in English. What I especially appreciated is that I was able to do part of my internship in my home country, which further emphasizes the international focus of the programme.

I did my research internship at the department of Clinical Child and Family Studies at UU. The internship was part of the research project Parenting around the World. The goal of the project is to disseminate the recognition and usage of a multi-dimensional parenting questionnaire (CECPAQ) around the world, to be able to compare parenting practices from diverse cultures and environments. The main focus of my internship was to set-up and coordinate a study which examined the upbringing of young children in Slovenia, and which considered whether the CECPAQ is suitable for Slovenian parents.

The internship turned out to be of extreme value for my future research career, and I gained much more knowledge and confidence than I had previously imagined I could. After finishing DaSCA I feel more than prepared to continue with my studies as a PhD student in the field of developmental psychology!"

Dom Weinberg studied Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence

Dom Weinberg

"I did my Bachelor’s in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University in the UK, where I’m from. After graduating, I felt I was done with academia for the time being, so I found a job with a small NGO, The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services. I really enjoyed my work, which combined politics, social issues and youth development, which I had always been interested in. Once I felt ready to return to academia to pursue a Master’s, I was therefore certain that I wanted to look for a programme which focused on the lives of young people. Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence very much fitted with these interests.

I wanted to do a Master’s abroad in order to broaden my horizons, and chose to come to the Netherlands in large part because there are a lot of very good universities here. Utrecht University was my top choice based on its real strength in research on adolescent health and development. Another important reason why I chose the Netherlands is that this country has the highest level of child wellbeing in Europe; I figured that even on top of studying youth issues, being part of this society would help me further understand what makes young people happy and healthy.

DaSCA was challenging and the first few months especially were hard work, but overall it was definitely the right decision for me. Utrecht is a lovely city to live in, it was easy to build a social life during the Master’s, and I really felt like I learnt a lot from the programme. I even enjoyed it enough that I wanted to continue with a PhD, so when my thesis supervisor offered me a position I didn’t take long to decide. I am now working as a PhD candidate at UU, and am part of the projects which drew me here in the first place!"

Leanthe van Harten studied Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence

Leanthe van Harten

"After finishing my Bachelor’s at University College Utrecht, I was looking for the most challenging Master’s programme in the field of Developmental Psychology. I found Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence. The group of students is small and the seminars are intense. The main focus lies on critically evaluating studies dealing with children and adolescents, acquiring the methodological and statistical skills to answer research questions, and placing knowledge in a theoretical context.

Students have the opportunity to do research in their own field of interest (e.g. Adolescents, Social and Personality Development, Psychosocial Problems and Cognition). Even though the assignments can be hard work, most students find the time for a job and an active social life. The skills taught in this programme can be seen as preparatory for taking up a PhD."